Zuma demands direct African flights

2010-10-20 07:01

Cairo - Africa needs better road, air and sea transport to realise the dream of a Cape-to-Cairo free trade zone and reduce dependence on European markets, officials from the continent's two biggest economies said on Tuesday.

Hundreds of Egyptian and South African businessmen were meeting in Cairo as part of a high-level state visit that included President Jacob Zuma, aimed at bolstering currently weak trade ties between the two countries.

More robust regional trade could help Africa unlock its economic potential, but while many trade arrangments already exist, infrastucture has lagged the continent's needs and complicated trade between its countries.

Air travel between some parts of Africa, for instance, can still require a layover overseas.

"If you wanted to reach some countries on the continent, you'd have to go to Europe first, then sleep on the way, wake up in the morning, wait until sunset and then fly back to Africa. That must come to an end," Zuma said at the conference.

"And nobody else can do it except ourselves."

The two countries are trying to seal a free trade deal that would encompass the 19-country Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the 15-country Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African common market.

Such a pact could cover 700 million people in the world's poorest continent and help African countries keep pace with economies like China and India, which benefit from large domestic consumer bases.

But this will take more than just deals on paper.

"We have to have the access by land, by sea, by air. We need to increase the access dramatically," Egyptian Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid on the sidelines of the conference.

"So far it's been taking forever, I hope that things will start to move," he told Reuters, adding politics and the difficulty of crossing 12 to 15 countries' borders could also be a hurdle to getting the trade zone going.


Africa now has some 30 regional trade arrangements, but receives less than 4% of global foreign direct investment, partly because copious red tape and corruption tend to discourage foreign business.

South Africa exported just R1.2bn worth of goods to Egypt and imported R231.3m worth from the Arab country in 2009.

Egyptian and South African officials and businessmen said they saw a chance to improve these figures by encouraging investment and trade in fields such as automotives, energy, agro-processing, tourism and technology.

Tuesday's meeting was the biggest state visit between the two African countries since at least 1994.

A delegation of Egyptian officials and businessmen is expected to visit South Africa in February. Continuing talks on the Cape-to-Cairo free trade zone will also be on the agenda.

  • Solo - 2010-10-20 07:38

    Airlines that fly into and land in EU airspace have to meet certain standards. That at least keeps the sky's safe and certain African airlines upto standard.

  • Pale Darkie - 2010-10-20 07:44

    Dear Prez Zumagabe If you want to demand direct flights please put YOUR money where your big mouth is. In most cases airlines doe not operate like SAA on government handouts. MY money is not available for yet another display of utter incompetence Yours disappointed

  • John - 2010-10-20 08:00

    FINALLY, something positive for a change..... I normally disagree with anything Zuma says out of principal, but I have to admit, he is right here. ZumiZuma!

  • SHAZZA - 2010-10-20 08:02

    He never says anything noteworthy to a true cause of Africa, then he says something about Flight- how about saying something about the Sewage issues, or Public hospital affairs and rroads. JOBS..seriously- flights? Why doesnt Zuma demand better service of public workers?

  • monica - 2010-10-20 08:04

    Corruption is endemic in government circles and everywhere else - this will eventually kill our beloved country! How can we DEMAND when our own country is rotting!

  • BadWes - 2010-10-20 08:05

    Have you ever asked the question why Africa is behind, why Africa has some of the poorest countries in the world, why Africa's infrastructure is non-existent. Africa keeps on demanding and waiting for handouts from the stronger economies, wait for other countries to assist and help them, why can Africa not help itself? Africa has the richest agricultural land in the world, yet they cannot provide the basic food needs of its people, the richest mineral deposits in the world, yet the poorest countries, the largest and most diverse nature and wildlife areas, yet plunder it to the ground, some of the most effective and cheapest labour in the world, yet cannot build infrastructure. Stand up at the podium during one of these conferences and ask these questions, or are you afraid of what the answer's might be.

  • Johnathan - 2010-10-20 08:17

    Only thing I'm wondering about is whether European countries require certain safety checks that some African countries don't? If it is the case, won't these checks be neglected if flights are direct? I'd rather fly to Europe first on a proper plane than fly direct on a plane that falls out of the sky...

  • Cherrie - 2010-10-20 08:27

    Now we have heard it all !!!! Zuma can't even bring the crime in SA to an end...but now wants to bring an end to fights haveing to go via Europe to get to Egypt.

  • Mo - 2010-10-20 08:42

    I like the idea, If this philosophy can continue will encourage Afican countries to have same mentality and realised the capability of being independent from the europian countries in a sense that will use our own idea to develope our own welth, economy and encourage interpreneurship

  • Magda - 2010-10-20 09:03

    I think this will be wonderful. Having to travel to Africa regularly it can only help. @Shazza. Maye this could be an opurtunity for work as we can offer to build the road and rail system to from Cape to Cairo. Just think, this will keep out the Chinese and givwe at least five years of work to the Africans

  • Clive - 2010-10-20 09:06

    Not sure the comment is true. I used to travel extensively through Africa and never had to route through Europe. And all my flights were with reliable airlines

  • Daleen - 2010-10-20 09:13

    "AMEN" to BadWes' comments.....Pres.Zuma's government cannot even MAINTAIN the most basic standards in his OWN country like water quality, roads etc. because our taxpayers money gets waisted by CORRUPT officials!! Clean up your OWN house first Zuma, maybe then we can join the rest of the world in economic trade.....

  • Motswanagape - 2010-10-20 09:14

    Some of you people are just complaining for the sake of complaining .There is a big opportunity for businessmen from both countries to take advantage of .You might hate Zuma but stop moaning about things which you have no knowledge of.Even capitalists are happy as such deals will open up demand for South African companies to supply products and services to countries like Egypt.

  • C to C is Ujamaa - 2010-10-20 09:26

    Those elected to lead also want the lifestyle that goes with being a leader as defined by western standards and the comunnal spirit of Ujamaa and the honesty of Thomas Sankara and self sacrifice of Patrice Lumumba are no loger appreciated, Our elected leaders all want to drive Range Rovers and Cayennes. THE JSE as well has not found an equitable way of redistributing the wealth as measured by share prices what we see is directors exercising share options and wonder what do they do with the millions they get from this process. Surely it gets to a level were the money is so much they will not need it anymore. Africa is cursed by our doings, those who inhabit her seek to loot rather than serve(leaders) and those blessed with wealth grasp onto it and are unwilling to share,(JSE)

  • Roger - 2010-10-20 09:27

    South Africa should study how Egypt has almost zero crime in their populated country, we need to follow suite!!

  • Dave - 2010-10-20 09:31

    Africa is beautiful,would love to do business in Africa.Lets start the process.Bring it on

  • Franco - 2010-10-20 09:57

    I'm fully behind Zuma's idea about depending on EU. Hope ppl can stop critisism and help him build this continent. Look what support Thabo Mbeki got when he & others started african union. Africans must support each other & stop this infighting. Unite, Work hard and let there be peace.

  • Mas - 2010-10-20 10:07


  • VR - 2010-10-20 10:22

    Whether you fly Internationally or Regionally only, all commercial airlines need to comply with safety regulations from ICAO, International Civil Aviation Organization.African aircrafts would not fall from the sky.Recently we have had a few African accidents, however African airlines are not unique to air disasters.

  • Anon - 2010-10-20 10:44

    Egyptians lock away your camels 'cos we will hijack them.

  • Gawie Botha @Bad Wes - 2010-10-20 11:05

    Beacause they dont practise what they preach!

  • D @ C to C is Unjama - 2010-10-20 13:39

    Why do you feel that those with money should be forced to share it? I by no means have lots of money and getting through the month each month is a struggle but I appreciate the fact that people who have worked hard for their money deserve it. I took a student loan and put myself through UNISA to obtain a degree while working the way through. I now am studying further and often work through until past midnight when its required. Last night I finished after 11 and tonight will be the same, with exams in a few weeks I have to fit that in as well. I dont judge successful people, I am inspired by successful people and hope that through continued hard work and studying I too will be successful. There is a saying that is very appropriate in Africa: You cannot create wealth by dividing it. When the people and the leaders realise that and begin to 'create wealth'. You cannot take what is and just try thin it out amongst more people. Cant anyone see that DOESNT WORK. R10 between one person and R10 between 10 people is still R10. Its just now no-one can do anything with that R10.

  • chris - 2010-10-20 19:35

    Oh dear, here we go again! I can see SAA (by government decree) proceeding headlong into another disastrous foray of providing links to all and sundry on the continent when the economic demand does not exist. The poor taxpayer.....

  • nananatakemehome - 2012-06-13 17:54

    Thank you, Mr. President, for stating the obvious. Now, let SAA stop losing money by doing direct flights, there are people who can pay in hard dollars and SAA can stop losing money in one to five years. It's about time.We need commitment and we need action. It's about time.

  • nananatakemehome - 2012-06-13 18:01

    Thanks goodness. Now let's get commitment from African heads of state, and timeliness for SAA. IF, SAA watched what KQ has been doing in the past five years, they would be the most profitable airline in Africa. And given their service and quality, they would have no competition. Money!!

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