The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) this Monday hosted the fifth Africa Business Forum on the margins of the 35th ordinary session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
The virtual event which was attended by Sierra Leone President, Julius Maada Bio, as well as Botswana President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, was held under the theme: “Investing in multi-modal transport infrastructure to optimize the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area: a focus on air transport and tourism”.
The Forum focused on the implications of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on the air transport and tourism sectors, which are recovering from a financial crisis induced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, related new market developments, technological advancements, and the huge business and investments opportunities in these industries to accelerate economic growth.
In 2019, air transport accounted for only 0.9% of the total intra-African freight transport demand. According to the transport demand forecasting results, with the implementation of AfCFTA the number of tons transported by aircraft would almost double from almost 2.3 million tons to 4.5 million tons.
Speaking ahead of the forum, on behalf of UNECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe, UNECA Director: Regional Integration and Trade Division, Stephen Karingi said: “These forums are to not only make the dialogues between government and private sector easier but to also turn our ideas into actions.”
Previous forums were held on energy and health. “This has been a five-year journey and we are proud to be able to show the results from some of the previous forums that we had”, said Karingi.
The forum on transportation was graced by Chief Executive Officers of African airline companies, government ministries and policymakers in the transport, infrastructure and trade sectors, private sector investors, young entrepreneurs and innovators, among others.
By Amanda Matshaka for African View News