Pressure grows on African leaders to liberalise aviation sectors
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African aviation experts have been calling for leaders across the continent to enact a previously agreed arrangement to liberalise the African aviation industry under what has become known as the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD).
The agreement to fully liberalise African airspace was brokered in 1999 but since then only 11 countries have started implementing the steps for the initiative to come into place by 2017.
According to those in favour of the move, liberalisation will enable African airline operators to expand their coverage across the region and compete with the large international airliners that currently account for up to 80 percent of air traffic across the continent.
It was also noted that international airlines only employ a very small percentage of Africans in their operations, despite their dominance of the continent’s market. It has therefore been rightly argued that if local African airlines are allowed to develop their operations, they will surely be able to provide employment and training to thousands, directly and indirectly.
CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Tewolde Gebremariam said: “Twenty years ago the combined African airlines market was more than 60 per cent of the intercontinental traffic between Africa and the rest of the world. Back then there were airlines as big as Air Afrique, Ghana Airways, Nigeria Airways, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) owned airline. The DRC today doesn’t have an airline, but the DRC then had an airline operating more than 30 jet airplanes.”
He added: “They all died because there is no support from their governments. They were not able to fly to their neighbouring countries as much as they did at that time.20 years later we are not able to fly freely to a neighbouring country.”
There have been fears about the nature of the competition that could arise within the proposed African aviation industry. It has been suggested that one or two larger African airlines could come to dominate the market in the same way that the international companies do today. Whatever happens, companies should never lose focus on providing affordable, well-connected services for their customers.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.