Analysts and experts in the aviation industry have projected an increased interest in tourism and commercial opportunities by investors from various economic and other spheres, and therefore an escalation in the travel market.
However, to benefit from the reported opportunities, Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Aviation companies, leaders and ministries responsible for air transport from African countries have been cautioned against the dangers of brain drain in the aviation industry.
Dr. Sheryl Walters-Malcolm, President of Omni Consulting Services , United States of America(US), made the point┬á that the air transport as the most efficient mode of transportation in the, Transport industry played a critical role in the increasingly globalised world.
“It therefore follows that to benefit from┬á opportunities arising from tourism, commercial activities┬á as well as the expanding air transport market, there is need for a safe and efficient air transport system to be in place,” said Walter-Malcolm.
The US based, Miami based consultant was speaking at the 16th International Aviation and Allied Businesses Leadership Conference which was held in Gaborone.
She posited that one of the critical components of a safe and efficient air transport system in Africa was the availability of skilled personnel.
“To make matters worse aggressive recruiting practices of aviation companies and, the phenomenal growth of the aviation industry in the Middle East and Asia has resulted in the poaching of aviation personnel,” Walters-Malcolm explained.
Patrick Dlamini, CEO of Air Traffic & Navigation Services (ATNS), concurred with Walters-Malcolm.
“Given the stimulus effect on the economy by the growth of air traffic, African countries still depend entirely on expertise from foreign countries, with the ultimate result that they have very minimal control over the movement of such personnel,” said Dlamini.
Yet, interestingly, the air transport growth rate continues to be higher than air navigation system capacity with negative consequences to the aviation industry and national economies.
Against that background, Dlamini argued that for any aviation system, in particular African aviation industry to succeed it requires a visionary leadership who are able to appreciate the full extent of the challenges presented by both lack of adequate qualified personnel and their migration to well paying countries.
On that score, the CEO of Botswana’s Civil Aviation Authority, Meshesha Belayneh, indicated that over and above exploring ways that allowed for maximization of countries’ revenue potential, African countries should consider cooperative arrangements with aviation organizations in other countries for cost saving, and proactive interventions.
“As for us at the ATNS, we resolved to stop poaching in neighbouring countries and focus on developing our own skill base, a training and retention strategy, which I can proudly say really worked for us, ” Dlamini told the Telegraph.
He added that one of the strategies for stabilizing the industry may be to standardize remuneration, and invest resources in training locals and create attractive working conditions for employees, so that there is a sense of ownership.
In addition, Air Traffic Management systems need to keep in step with technological advance to improve safety, efficiency, capability and environmental input.