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Lessons For Africa and Initiatives to Link Countries to Regional Markets

An Ethiopian Airbus A350-900XWB. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

2020 changed everything, raising questions of whether things ever return to normal or if will there be a whole new normal.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing global shutdown has crippled economies, closed businesses and brought emotional devastation to millions.

But aviation is an important engine to our world and will play an important role in lifting the world to recovery from COVID-19. It also remains by far the most efficient mode for international travel, accounting for around 40% of the market share of all modes of transportation.

The economic contribution of air transport in Africa was valued at $63 billion before the COVID-19 pandemic. Without a doubt, the continent will have to focus on air transport as one of the main forces driving recovery and socioeconomic development after the pandemic.

One challenge that remains is consolidating the continent into one trade area that will provide great opportunities for trading enterprises, businesses and consumers across Africa and the chance to support sustainable development in the world’s least-developed region.

The launch of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which covers a market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion across all 55 member states of the African Union, envisions an enhanced inter-African trade as well as enhanced development within African countries. In terms of numbers of participating countries, AfCFTA becomes the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) also estimates that AfCFTA has the potential both to boost intra-African trade by 52.3% by eliminating import duties, and to double this trade if non-tariff barriers are also reduced.

One notable airline that has been strategic in navigating the global slowdown and is looking to tap into this market is the Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest airline.

Ethiopian Airlines-DHL and African Electronic Trade Group have partnered to transport historical parcels in the African Continental Free Trade Area. The partnership is meant to invoke the start of trading of the African Continental Free Trade Area market and the operations of the African E-Commerce Platform in the continent with the first batch of the goods already arrived at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport on Jan. 1, 2021.

Tewolde GebreMariam, Group CEO Ethiopian Airlines, said, “The link between an integrated African marketplace, free movement of persons and the single air market in Africa cannot be underestimated as it serves as a catalyst for unlocking immense opportunities in Africa for the benefit of Africans and all stakeholders. I would like to commend the African Union leaders for their strategic focus on the legal instruments that will make it easier for Africans to travel across the continent peacefully and do business with each other.

“I believe that the partnership with The African Electronic Trade Group and DHL is crucial, as Ethiopian is a key player in African cargo and passenger transportation. While fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to work to boost intra-African trade to pave the way for a brighter future,” continued the group’s CEO.

This will be in collaboration with African Union Commission and the African business community with a vision to enhance intra-and inter-African trade.

Victor Shalton


  • Victor Shalton

    Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Victor’s love for aviation goes way back to when he was 11-years-old. Living close to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he developed a love for planes and he even recalls aspiring to be a future airline executive for Kenya Airways. He also has a passion in the arts and loves writing and had his own aviation blog prior to joining AirlineGeeks. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at DeKUT and aspiring to make a career in a more aviation-related course.

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