I am pleased to welcome you to Rwanda, for the 6th Aviation Africa Summit and Exhibition, taking place together with the first-ever World Airports Infrastructure, Equipment, and Services Exhibition.

I thank the organizers, Times Aerospace, for bringing this event back to Rwanda, for the third time.

I would like to acknowledge all the sponsors and exhibitors, for making this gathering possible.

We are very happy to host you.

The last time we met in Kigali, was three years ago.

That meeting highlighted the importance of Africa’s aviation market, for our continent’s ambition to become a single economic bloc.

Aviation was growing rapidly, and the future was bright.

Since then, the Covid pandemic severely affected the aviation industry worldwide, and Africa was no exception.

Airlines and airports around the world faced massive layoffs.

Now, travel and tourism are getting back to normal. But the industry is not yet back to where it was.

The further liberalization of air transport in Africa can act as a catalyst to speed up the industry’s recovery, by increasing connectivity, stimulating demand, and creating jobs.

In the wider context of the African Continental Free Trade Area, open skies help to link our businesses to regional and global supply chains, boosting trade and investment.

This is why the full implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market must remain a top priority.

Rwanda continues to do its part.

Currently, RwandAir, our national carrier, serves 24 routes, 19 of which are in Africa.

We intend to continue expanding within the continent, and abroad.

We are working together with our partner, Qatar Airways, to grow RwandAir, and build Kigali’s new international airport, currently under construction, into a regional hub for passengers and cargo.

To accelerate the growth of our aviation industry, we must also address the shortage of skills across the aviation value chain.

After all, aviation is a hugely attractive career for young people in Africa.

As a meeting point for the public and private sectors, this summit is the right platform to drive the employment and skills conversation.

Lastly, let’s prioritize the use of data and digital technologies, to make African aviation safer, more reliable, and more affordable.

The aviation industry has a role to play, in reaching our global climate adaptation goals, and the use of sustainable fuels can help us get there, faster.

Once again, you are most welcome to Rwanda, and I wish you productive discussions, and an enjoyable stay in our country.

I thank you for your kind attention.