Connecting Africa: Business aviation’s role in promoting intra-African trade

Philippe Scalabrini, President – Europe & Afrique, VistaJet

Press Office: VistaJet

By Philippe Scalabrini, President – Europe & Afrique, VistaJet

Intra-African trade is receiving more attention than ever, as trade between African countries can boost development, promote regional integration, and bolster the continent’s position in the global market.

The current economic dynamics indicate that African countries struggle to fully benefit from increased continental trade, particularly in trade relations with their neighbouring countries. According to the AfrieximBank 2022 African Trade Report, Africa accounted for only 20.5% of intra-African trade in 2021, starkly contrasting the intra-regional trade figures in Europe (70%) and Asia (60%). The ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has been seen as an opportunity to accelerate regional economic growth. Once fully implemented, the AfCFTA will lower tariffs, streamline customs procedures, and improve infrastructure. This will create a unified African market with over a billion consumers and a combined GDP exceeding $3 trillion. As a result, Africa will become the largest free trade area globally.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) aims to boost trade within the continent. However, significant transportation and communication infrastructure challenges must be addressed. The African Development Bank’s flagship report, the African Economic Outlook, highlights that intra-African transportation and communication infrastructure are less developed than connections with the rest of the world. While communication between African countries has improved dramatically in recent years, transportation still faces significant challenges. More travel options exist from Africa to Europe, Asia, and the Americas than between African countries. For example, it’s easier for a Nigerian business executive to arrange a flight from Lagos to London than to destinations within Africa like Brazzaville or Mbabane.

As a fundamental driver of connectivity in the continent, business aviation must take a more prominent position to boost intra-African trade. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the European Union (EU) could be notable examples for Africa. Transportation, especially by air, has continued to propel economic growth in those regions – North America and Europe. With more efficient transport systems in place, intra-African trade is estimated to increase by 40% to over 50% by 2040. Efforts to address challenges faced by the transportation sector, especially the business aviation industry, have been quite consistent. This is evident in projects like the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) launched by the African Union, which created significant opportunities for the business aviation sector.

VistaJet, with its unparalleled blend of reliability, flexibility, efficiency, anonymity, and safety, is a game-changer for African corporations, governments and private clients grappling with connectivity challenges. By providing enhanced connectivity, VistaJet plays a pivotal role in promoting intra-African trade. The Vista Members’ fleet offers direct routes and flexible schedules, significantly reducing travel time. This aligns perfectly with the AfCFTA mandate to eliminate trade barriers and promote intra-Africa trade. With VistaJet, industry leaders no longer must endure lengthy travel itineraries to attend crucial meetings across the continent, boosting productivity and facilitating quicker decision-making processes contributing to the region’s economic development. For example, a Ghanaian cocoa executive who, thanks to VistaJet and its dedicated aircraft in the region and beyond, can now manage cocoa farms in Abidjan and attend trade negotiations in Nairobi in one day. Achieving such efficiency with typical commercial flight schedules would be almost impossible due to logistical constraints.

Aside from policy direction, the most crucial factor in boosting intra-African trade is logistics – specifically, the movement of goods and people across the continent. Supply chains are often closely associated with the maritime industry, but air cargo solutions also offer a viable alternative, especially for the 16 landlocked countries on the continent. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, VistaJet played an important role in delivering essential medical supplies across various African countries. This logistical support not only helped in the fight against the pandemic but also highlighted the importance of reliable air transport in sustaining critical supply chains.

VistaJet’s unwavering dedication to promoting intra-African trade and bolstering connectivity across the continent is a testament to its commitment. VistaJet has been a reliable partner in developing trade connections in Africa for over a decade developing trade connections in Africa. With the continued implementation of the AfCFTA, businesses, and economies throughout Africa will persist in seeking growth prospects, with business aviation becoming increasingly essential. VistaJet is committed to continuing its role in linking African capital to opportunities within Africa, further solidifying its position as a key player in the region’s economic growth.