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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

JK: Boost Africa`s airline industry

1st June 2012
President Jakaya Kikwete delivers an opening speech at African Development Bank (AfDB)`s annual meeting in Arusha City yesterday. (Photo: Correspondent Woinde Shizzah)

President Jakaya Kikwete has called on Africa to improve airline industry, in order to attract more tourists from the developed world.

Addressing the 47th Annual meeting of the African Development Bank and the 38th Annual meeting of AfDB here, Kikwete said: “It is astonishing to see that there are limited direct flights landing in Africa from developed countries like the US, European countries and as far as Asia, despite of our thrilling tourist destinations.”

He said in the past, major international airline companies like Lufthansa used to land in Africa but today there are very few and some of them no longer land in Africa.

“This is a very serious threat to Africa’s tourism, which if well developed could employ millions of people,” Kikwete said, adding that US-based airline — Delta now lands only in South Africa.

“High airfare in Africa’s airlines is a challenge that thwarts development of tourism industry in the continent,” Kikwete said, calling for the continent’s policy makers to work on the matter. “We need to create better environment to attract major international airlines, to initiate direct flights to African countries, so that tourists from abroad land directly in the tourist destinations they want.

“If well developed, tourism will have a big share in providing employment to our people, which in recent days, has become a big challenge,” he said citing increasing youth unemployment in Africa and warning that it could trigger political turmoil.

“What happened in the Arab springs, will likely to affect other African countries. Unemployed youths is a challenge that needs to be worked on as they can destabilise even the democratically elected governments,” he said, urging AfDB to play its role in industrialisation of Africa, through supporting growth of manufacturing and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the private sector.

“What are required are the financial mechanisms to assist entrepreneurs in Africa to invest in manufacturing. They need finance but also support to develop into effective private sector.”

On agriculture, Kikwete asked AfDB to help African countries including Tanzania to transform their agriculture so as to enable the continent to feed itself and the world while at the same time lifting millions of people out of poverty through increased production and incomes.

He also stated that Africa is in dire need of financial and technical support to upgrade and advance, adding that the financing gap to upgrade and advance Africa’s infrastructure is a major constraint to the continent’s development.

Citing the Tanzanian example, the President said, the country has a road network of about 85,000km but only 6000km are paved.

“We expect to reach 11,000km of tarmac roads by 2015. So, we’ve a long-way to go,” he said, noting that Africa needs more roads, railways, ports and airports and ICT to open-up and increase market access in Africa. He stressed the need for African governments to take bold decisions to address the situation, by investing heavily in vocational training education, whereby youth will be fully-empowered with a wide-range of technical skills.

“It is also time for Africa to start investing in industrialisation, taking the advantage of having large amounts of raw materials,” he said, adding that Africa is well-placed and endowed with huge resources, which need to be processed for the betterment of its people.

In his remarks, Cote d’Ivoire President, Allassane Ouattara called for collective efforts in addressing climate, which has been contributing to poor harvests of agro-related products in the continent. He said climate change is a threat towards ensuring the continent feeds its own people as of now there are millions of people who are starving in the region.

Ouattara also stated that peace had returned to his country and it was time for potential investors to go and invest in different sectors.

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