Air transport could create six million African jobs over next two decades

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Air transport could generate as much as six million jobs in Africa over the next 20 years if current growth projections hold true.

The industry currently directly employs over 5.5 million people world wide and contributes US$425 billion to global GDP, which is more than several members of the G20. Aviation currently generates US$10 billion of Africa`s GDP.

A new report about the economic and social impact of aviation entitled “Aviation: The Real World Wide Web” says the air transport industry`s GDP contribution is around one and a half times the size of the pharmaceutical industry (US$270 billion GDP) or the textile industry (US$286 billion GDP) and a third bigger than the motor production industry (US$322 billion GDP).

An estimated 35% of all trade (by value) in manufactured goods travel by air. This is worth some US$3.5 trillion, the study notes.

The report by researchers Oxford Economics adds that when combined with its supply chain and dependent industries, including its contribution to tourism, aviation supports over 33 million jobs and US$1.5 trillion GDP. As a country this would rank aviation in eighth position, between Italy and Spain.

This should increase to 50 million jobs and US$3.6 trillion of the world`s GDP by 2026, the study adds.

The report also makes a cogent argument for research-and-development, noting that every US$100 million invested in aerospace R&D generates an additional US$70 million of GDP year-after-year.

Oxford Economics managing director Adrian Cooper says while the study was commissioned by Airbus with support from British Airways and easyJet, “the results are independent and unbiased.”

Cooper adds that the “more deeply our analysis went on the role of aviation in different industries and regions around the world, the more we understood the central role it played.

“The growth of many business sectors in the developed and developing world, and of many different industries has for some time been intertwined with the growth of aviation itself. It does appear that global economic growth is correlated with and dependent on growth in aviation,” he says.

“While sophisticated econometric modelling produces the facts that support this view, there are many additional advantages that are more difficult to quantify precisely, but which the world now takes for granted, such as the benefits of being able to travel quickly from one continent to the other. We have reached the conclusion that aviation has a special role in raising living standards.”

Beyond multiple economic benefits, air transport has also radically changed how economies and societies operate and interact by opening trade opportunities that benefit poorer countries; making it easier to share knowledge gained through research, development and innovation; giving workers in developing countries access to higher, more stable incomes while maintaining ties to their homelands and helping to increase awareness of preservation initiatives and sustainable ecotourism in emerging economies.

“The conclusions and data in the report are a result of widely accepted economic modelling and Oxford Economics` extensive knowledge of the aviation industry. We examined areas such as efficiency, productivity, trade, connectivity, investment, tourism and standard of living,” Cooper continues.

“Most importantly, the numbers have been combined with a series of case studies to illustrate what the theory actually means for the lives of real people around the world. We`ve put faces behind the numbers.”