Africa’s airline systems were branded “colonial and cold war remnants” stunting the continent’s progress by a development specialist who called on African governments to urge international donors to actively support Africa’s airline industry.
Speaking to the African Travel Association Congress, which drew ministers and some 300 delegates to the capital of The Gambia, Lelei LeLaulu, co-chairman of Innovation for Sustainable Development Centre, said the current airline route systems “were designed by former colonial powers to fly Africa’s riches and ex-patriots to their colonial capitals - and were further exacerbated by the East-West divisions of the Cold War.”
“These route systems have rarely served Africa’s real needs - and as a result, going from West to East on the continent often requires transiting through a European capital,” he observed.
“Africa will not develop its full potential until these remnants of colonialism and the Cold War are sorted out,” added LeLaulu, who is also an advisor to CDC Development Solutions.
LeLaulu, who was involved in setting up sustainable tourism projects in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, urged that “airline transport systems in Africa be recognized as integral parts of infastructure - just like terrestrial highways, causeways and bridges.”
“Infrastructure is essentially a means of sharing the wealth - and that is precisely why airlines should be treated as Aerial Highways sharing the burgeoning global tourism receipts with the continent,” he asserted.
Furthermore, cautioned LeLaulu, “without aerial highways transporting Africa’s goods and services to global markets, many of our economies will wallow in the backwaters of the world economy.”
LeLaulu, also chairman of the Leadership Council of George Washington University’s Tourism and Hospitality Management Department in the School of Business, urged African governments to proactively support airlines serving the continent with subsidies, “and by buying large blocks of airplane seats for government travelers, in advance.”
“International donors like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and bi-lateral supporters understand, and respond to, infrastructural needs and there is none more in need than aerial highways,” opined LeLaulu, who also is vice president of the Caribbean Media Exchange.