By Michael Karanja www.capitalfm.co.ke
Emirates Airlines is banking on the economic vibrancy of its African destinations to boost its cargo business.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Air Cargo Africa Conference, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President-Cargo Ram Menen said the volumes of cargo shipped to and from Africa has the capacity to put the global air cargo business to new levels of profitability.
“These are great times for us. Trade in Africa is diverse and it is proving to be a major hub for air cargo with all the developments taking off here,” Mr Menen said.
Emirates operates a freighter four times a week into Nairobi as well as serving 15 other countries with flights to Lilongwe, Entebbe, Lagos and Dakar.
To South Africa, Emirates runs freighters on an ad hoc basis owing to its regular daily passenger flights. South Africa is a major exporter of gold and diamonds, with Mr Menen saying it has been a good source of business.
It is estimated that the global air cargo industry represents almost 100 billion revenue ton-miles of transportation, translating to $52 billion (Sh4.2 trillion) in direct revenue and substantially more revenues in related trucking and logistics services.
The major challenge for the industry is the on ground transport and logistics, which has been a hurdle in increasing turnaround time.
“The transport infrastructure is still a challenge for us but we are seeing African governments addressing this and it should help us a lot,” he said.
Kenya’s horticultural sector currently ranks as one of the economy’s fastest growing industries and largely depends on air cargo to get products to markets in Europe.
With all the development and investment in the telecommunications industry, the Emirates-Cargo VP highlighted that most of its inbound cargo was telecoms equipment.
“Telecommunication equipment are very huge purely because of the upgrading by operators of their telecommunication technology,” Mr Menen said adding the same was also being witnessed in Uganda.
He said that as part of its global strategy, Emirates would be building linkages between both importers and exporters to improve the quality if service offered as well as boost economic growth.