Improving Africa’s infrastructure is key to future air cargo growth

  • David Harris
  • August 30, 2013
  • 0

Air cargo charter is an effective way of moving freight that is of high-value, outsize or of a time-sensitive nature – making it an integral part of the global logistics network to support manufacturing, trade and investment.

Nowhere in the world is the potential for aviation greater than on the African continent – home to over a billion people spread across 20 per cent of the world’s land mass.

Aviation has aided linking the continent to the world and plays a powerful role in integrating the 54 national economies of Africa. Aviation allows even the most remote destinations to be a part of the global economy.

However, there are challenges to overcome before the potential of Africa can be fully realised. In areas such as Central Africa, for example, airport and road infrastructure has to improve before we can expect further growth in air cargo movements.

Governments need to be committed to solve these issues – the African economies have shown solid growth, with the fastest progress coming from resource-rich countries, but with inadequate infrastructure it will impede further development in Africa.

Infrastructure always has a substantial effect on productivity. Africa’s road density is sparse in comparison with the vastness of the continent. Connectivity within Africa requires a cargo transport network that would link all capital cities.

Investment in improving the condition of runways is also a must, allowing for more cargo aircraft to land on extended runways in major cities within Africa.

In recent years there has been a marked increase in cargo charter requests to destinations in countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, as well as West Africa.  Air cargo charter is often viewed as the most reliable, safest and quickest solution when looking to move commodities to these markets.

The air cargo industry has also been instrumental in opening up new routes to new emerging markets in Africa – particularly in support of sectors such as mining.

Earlier this year, Chapman Freeborn launched new scheduled air cargo services to key mining locations in Africa.

A regular freighter service on a DC8-27F now operates from Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport, non-stop to Lubumbashi International Airport in the south-eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and to N’Djili International Airport located in the DRC’s capital city of Kinshasa, which has proven very successful.

The company also operates a Fokker F27 aircraft which is based at the Entebbe International Airport, Uganda, and available for all regional cargo charter requirements.

Oil equipment charter from Entebbe (EBB) to Glasgow (PIK)

Iain Clark, Chapman Freeborn’s regional director for Africa, says:

“Introducing new air cargo services is an effective way to unlock the potential of Africa for international trade and investment.

“Uganda is just one example of a key location for flying spares, exploration equipment and core samples – mostly using the Fokker F27, as well as AN-26’s, DC9, 747 and L100-30 cargo aircraft.”

However, perhaps more so than other parts of the world, Clark views local market knowledge as crucial to managing successful air cargo operations in Africa. It is important for international  freight forwarders and cargo clients to limit their risk when moving cargo across the continent.

“Unfortunately there is no one set of rules that apply to all countries within Africa, so using a cargo charter provider that has a proven track record is vitally important.

“The continent’s limited infrastructure is a key challenge – but there are also a myriad of operational considerations ranging from flight permit procedures to trade sanctions – so it’s not simply case of checking if the airport has a long enough runway or a high-loader.”

Chapman Freeborn was the first international aircraft charter company to establish a presence in Africa. The company has offices in South Africa and Uganda.

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