The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) latest study on the importance of air transport and tourism to Ethiopia has projected that the sustained prioritisation of air transport, connectivity and tourism as a strategic asset will support an additional 900,000 jobs and at least $9.3 billion of GDP by 2037 to the country.
IATA’s economic report, which was presented in Addis Ababa Wednesday, identified air transport and tourism as significant economic enablers, noting that air transport and foreign tourists arriving by air currently support 5.7 per cent of the nation’s GDP valued at $4.2 billion and about 1.1 million jobs.
The world body said if current trends persist, Ethiopia’s air transport market would expand by 226 per cent over the next 20 years, with annual passenger journeys increasing from 7.2 million in 2017 to 23.5 million a year by 2037.
IATA identified four areas where Ethiopian government action could further promote aviation’s growth and bring even more value to the country: These include implement of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), noting that SAATM would open Africa’s skies. Ethiopia’s commitment to SAATM is positive for African aviation.
It noted that the government’s ongoing efforts to increase SAATM adoption among other Africa States would provide a significant boost for aviation in Ethiopia and throughout the continent.
The second area is to ensure future infrastructure investments maximise the economic and social benefits of connectivity.
“Much needed infrastructure capacity for Ethiopia was provided by the opening of the second terminal at Addis Ababa Bole International airport. For the country to retain its competitive position, future infrastructure investments should align with industry growth, be demand driven, fit for purpose and deliver required service levels at acceptable costs for users,” IATA said.
In the area of blocked funds, IATA said airline funds blocked from repatriation in Ethiopia stood at $70 million, noting that the government should continue working with the industry on ways to make these withheld funds available.
It stressed that airlines need to have confidence that they would be able to repatriate their revenues to allow the full benefits of aviation to be realised.
The fourth area was on improvement of air cargo facilitation in which IATA said Ethiopia’s facilitation of air cargo through its customs and borders regulations ranks 86th out of 124 countries in terms of the worldwide Air Trade Facilitation Index (ATFI) and 42nd out of 135 countries in terms of the eFreight Friendliness Index (EFFI) globally.
It noted that by implementing policies facilitating the frictionless movement of air cargo the country would be able to strengthen its position as a leading cargo hub for East Africa.