The fact that Sub-Saharan African region recorded zero passenger fatalities and zero jet hull losses in 2016, making it the best performance in the last decade is encouraging. Data released by International Air Transport Association, which represents 83 percent of all airlines worldwide, reveals that the rate of accidents dropped to 2.30 per one million departures, compared to 9.73 for the previous five years. There was also continued improvement in turboprop safety, with a turboprop hull loss rate of 1.56 marking an 85 percent drop than its 2011-2015 yearly average.
Africa’s air passenger traffic is projected to account for 294 million passengers or 4% of global air passengers by 2034. This growth, encompassing travel to, from and within Africa, is dismal, especially when compared with traffic for Asia Pacific with an overall market size of 2.9 billion or 40%. Admittedly, Asia has 59.94% of the global population. Nevertheless, Africa with 15.96% and being the second most populated continent, should account for more than 4% of global air traffic.
The performance is an indicator that upholding best practices such as the ones enacted by global standards like the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) make a difference. The continent should sustain this strong momentum by making IOSA and the IATA Standard Safety Assessment (for those carriers that are not eligible for IOSA) a part of their airline certification process. Africa needs to grow well and integrate with itself. The air transport sector provides an opportunity for growth and integration to occur and must be spurred on.