JOHANNESBURG, The 4th edition of Air Cargo Africa conference and trade expo being held here this week is discussing the challenges facing the continent's air cargo industry and finding solutions to these challenges.

This is the first time since the inauguration of the conference that shippers and forwarders are participating. Africa's freight market is less than 3.0 per cent% of the global market and the continent needs to catch up with the rest of the world as it has a growing consumer market.

Experts say the sector remains weakened by red tape and lack of proper policies even as the continent's growing population becomes more demanding and many consumers are now using air freight for the delivery of their goods across borders.

"In recent times, the profitability of the sector has been affected by the downward pressure on yields. This has to be arrested somehow, otherwise the case for investment becomes harder," says the chief executive of South African Airways (SAA), Musa Zwane.

"We have to re-engineer our processes to make it easier for customers to contract with us and for us to deliver more. It is important therefore that the industry commits more to the e-freight initiative."

Rainer Mueller, the vice-president of Commercial at Saudia Cargo, says Africa should improve its ground transport infrastructure to better facilitate air cargo.

"The situation at the airports when it comes to handling the import and export shipments there is an infrastructure in place that is okay but we can do better. One of the biggest challenge I see is on the ground, ground transport meaning several areas of the world we can combine cargo with ground transport and this in my point of view is lacking and it cannot be difficult to set up and we can set up tracking services within one country."

Air Cargo Africa is the continent's most important trade show for everyone involved in the air cargo business. In 2015, the trade expo attracted a record 80 international exhibiting companies and more than 500 global industry players from 32 countries.


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