Air Cargo focus Africa: Taking off towards a brighter continent

Air Cargo focus Africa: Taking off towards a brighter continent



Africa, a mosaic of cultures teeming with resources and home to a dynamic populace, stands poised for unprecedented economic advancement. However, realising this potential hinges upon one pivotal factor: establishing efficient and dependable air cargo networks. Acknowledging this crucial requirement, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) embarked on the Air Cargo Focus Africa Initiative in 2023. This visionary endeavour sets out to unleash the latent potential of African air cargo, catalysing it into a formidable force for economic prosperity throughout the continent.


Challenges and Opportunities:


Africa’s air cargo market is setting its sights on long-term growth; despite its vast potential, Africa’s air cargo industry faces several hurdles. The African air cargo market has been operating manually, putting data leakage and manual errors at risk.:


  • Limited infrastructure: Many African airports have yet to develop infrastructure to handle large cargo volumes efficiently.


  • High costs: Operating costs for airlines and logistics providers are often higher in the region due to various factors like fuel prices, ground handling charges, and regulatory inefficiencies.


  • Unstable global markets: The continent continues to suffer from the strength of the US dollar and the impact of inflation on export markets.


  • Lack of access to finance: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often struggle to access financing for their air cargo operations.


Despite these challenges, the continent presents exciting opportunities:


  • Rapid economic growth: Africa’s GDP is expected to grow 4.3% in 2024, significantly exceeding the global average. This economic expansion will inevitably drive demand for air cargo services.


  • Growing working class: The rise of a burgeoning young working class with increasing disposable income will create new markets for air-freighted goods.


  • e-Commerce boom: The rapid adoption of e-commerce across Africa is fuelling demand for fast and reliable air cargo services.


  • Improved infrastructure: Governments and private investors are increasingly upgrading airport infrastructure and logistics facilities. Daily operational magnitude in hubs like Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Cairo, Johannesburg, and Accra are comparable to operations in European airports.


Focus Africa Initiative: A Digital Transformation Agenda


The Focus Africa Initiative identifies six key digital-centric thrusts to address challenges and unlock opportunities:


1. Infrastructure development: Collaborative investments in modern cargo handling facilities and digital infrastructure for streamlined operations.


2. Harmonisation of regulations: Advocating for streamlined and digitalised regulations across African countries for seamless cargo movement.


3. Skill development: Building the digital skills and expertise in the air cargo workforce.


4. Financing solutions: Facilitating access to finance for SMEs through digital lending platforms and innovative financial models.


5. Trade facilitation: Simplifying customs clearance procedures and promoting the adoption of digital trade solutions like e-certificates and blockchain technology.


6. Technology adoption: Making technology available at affordable and easily accessible is the key to this region.


The Focus Africa Initiative aims to unlock Africa’s air cargo potential by embracing digitalisation. This is where the Air Cargo Community System (ACS) can be a game-changer. It is specifically designed to address the challenges faced by the African air cargo industry.


By collaborating with stakeholders and embracing digitalisation, the Air Cargo Focus Africa Initiative has the potential to transform Africa’s air cargo landscape, propelling the continent towards a brighter and more prosperous future.