Feb 26, 2016: The sixth edition of AIR CARGO INDIA saw the entire air cargo community gather under one roof throughout the three day extravaganza that consisted of an exhibition, conferences and a glittering award ceremony organized by STAT Media Group which identified and awarded the finest from the global air cargo industry.
However, the highlight of the third day was a dedicated panel session on the Indo-Africa trade link which had some of the best minds from the air cargo industry discuss and deliberate on issues that are crucial in the expansion of the Indo-African bilateral trade.
Hosted by Liege Airport, the session was moderated by Steven Verhasselt, Director, Liege Airport and included panelists like Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO, Astral Aviation; Tom Crabtree, Regional Director, Airline Market Analysis, Marketing & Business Development, Boeing, Christa Soltau, Group Manager, Cargo, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), Peter Scholten, CEO, Fast Logistics Solutions Group, Rainer Muller, VP, Commercial, Saudia Cargo; Dawit W Michael Gebre-AB, Senior Director-Strategic Planning, Air Djibouti and Conrad Aaranha, Cargo Manager-India, Ethiopian Airlines.
The session titled “Indo-Africa Trade Link – Value Waiting to be Unlocked,” majorly focused on the growing trade and investment relationship between India and Africa.
“In the last few years we have actually seen a lot of shipments coming in from India and we’re very optimistic that the growth of trade between India and Africa is to increase, with the statistics clearly indicating the same. However, we still feel that there is room for growth,” said Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO of Astral Aviation, an all cargo airline in Kenya. Astral Aviation sees a lot of shipments coming in from India like pharmaceuticals, e- commerce products and automotive parts into its Nairobi hub
“We are also seeing a lot of political initiatives like the Indo-Africa Summit held last October in India, where African heads of state were invited to look at the opportunity of trading investments. It’s only a matter of time that India and China will be at the same level when it comes to investment and trading into Africa,” continued Gadhia with a ray of hope.
Air Djibouti, the flag carrier of Djibouti, is building the biggest free trade zone this year which will provide countries like India with an easy access to the African market. “One of the first places that we plan to fly is to Mumbai because we understand the trade between India and Africa is on the rise, though there is quite a big gap to be filled with the Indo-Africa trade being currently valued at $70 billion a year as opposed to $200 billion between Africa & China,” said Dawit W Michael Gebre-AB, senior director-Strategic Planning, Air Djibouti. The airline has successfully launched cargo operations in August 2015 and is soon going to launch passenger services in July this year.
Africa plays a crucial role in India’s growth, this is reflected in the fact that bilateral trade has multiplied manifold in the last decade, while Indian companies are displaying rising interest in investing in Africa.
“India is a very strong trading partner with South Africa. When talking about exports from South Africa, India is at number four and imports from India to South Africa stands at number nine. We are talking numbers with a value of $5 billion,” said Christa Soltau, Group Manager, Airports Company South Africa.