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Aviation sector pivotal for economic growth, jobs - Zikalala

Oct 13 2017 11:43
Carin Smith

Margate – The aviation sector is pivotally important to drive economic growth and job creation, Sihle Zikalala, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs of KwaZulu-Natal, said on Friday.

"We have to continue to look at the value chain...  to develop the tourism and aviation industry to enable more people to take part in it," he said.

Zikalala delivered the opening address at the 47th annual general meeting of the Airline Association of Southern Africa (AASA).

He believes it is important to develop skills in the industry. That is why KwaZulu-Natal is attempting to address this matter, and is also envisioning an "aerotropolis" around the King Shaka International Airport.

"We have to distribute the economy to as many people as possible. Government cannot succeed if it goes it alone. We must all work together to grow the aviation industry as a key industry in our economy," he said.

"We need a will to cooperate in this regard."

Scarcity of skills, especially in technical areas, is a challenge in the African aviation industry and must be addressed with training in order to ensure the safety of African skies.

This was the message of AASA acting chair Advocate Mandi Samson at the AGM.

"People require training to ensure the safety of African skies. We need buy-in from governments and stakeholders," she said.

She expressed the hope that delegates at the AGM will take away best practices from the event.

In an address delivered on behalf of the National Department of Transport, it was pointed out that only 11% of African trade takes place among African countries.

Delegates were told that globally, the aviation industry supports 57 million jobs. It is one of the most crucial and fastest-growing industries in the world.

"For a single African sky, we need the will to create that. Africa needs to consolidate itself. Air transport contributes to economic growth and the creation of jobs," was the message from the Department of Transport.

"We have to also ensure transformation of the aviation industry. We are also working on security issues. We will also develop SA’s air cargo strategy for job creation. We rely on the airline industry for support."

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