Integration between African states necessary to promote intra-Africa tourism

Africa may need to take a leaf out of Europe’s book when it comes to integration between states for ease of travel if it is to win in its quest to tap into the intra-Africa tourism market. That is according to Insights Expert and Market Data Analyst, George Shingai.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 5th Africa Tourism Leadership Forum currently underway at the Grand Palm Hotel Convention Centre in Gaborone, Shingai says travel between African states has for a long time been handicapped by protectionism within African states.

“In the past, there has been a lot of protectionism that has existed among African states because all the African states were trying to protect their local carriers. However, with the implementation of Satam, which is a single African air transport market that aims to unify all the African countries into one umbrella and a single aviation market, I think we will start to see all these barriers do down.”


Shingai says although Europe has not perfected this, there’s more that they are doing right which has made travelling among European countries a lot easier – something he says Africa can learn from.

“The primary difference is that the European Union, as an example, there’s a closer regional economic integration among states. So, it’s all treated as a single market, whether you go to France, whether you go to Spain, Germany, Denmark, or Austria. It’s all treated as the same market. So, if those borders are gone, it is essentially borderless travel. So, if you are travelling from one point to the other it’s almost as if you are flying domestic,” explains Shingai.

But it is a different story, he says, in Africa.

“It’s different when you travel within Africa whereby you go from country to country and you have to stamp your passport each and every time you are in a different country or in the worst case you might need a Visa for each and every country that you may have to visit. So, I think that is the primary difference. That integration between states has to be the first step and then I think everything else will follow; the ease of travel, the access to air travel, the lower airfares we’re all craving for.”

Shying from engaging deep in politics, Shingai has, however, warned that for the integration to happen there would need to be political will. But he is optimistic Africa is ready to move into that space.


he African Union has previously announced its aspirations of Africans seeing themselves as one people united under the ideals of pan-Africanism, the physical and invisible barriers that have prevented the integration of Africa’s people removed.

Aspiration 2 of Agenda 2063 envisions “An integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance” and Aspiration 5 envisions “An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics.”

According to the AU, the Agenda 2063 flagship project ‘The African Passport and Free Movement of People’ aims to remove restrictions on Africans’ ability to travel, work and live within their own continent.

The AU hopes this will boost intra-Africa trade, commerce and tourism; improve trans-border infrastructure and shared development; facilitate labour mobility, intra-Africa knowledge and skills transfer, among others.

Shingai says looking at the data African tourism is recovering from the COVID-19 impact in spite of the war in Ukraine.

“I think we are on the right path so far. It is looking very, very promising. However, there is still work that needs to be done. The leisure market is not yet fully developed. I think we need more diversity in the types of carriers. At least 95% of Africa travel is dominated by legacy carriers, so there’s plenty of room for local carriers. And it is not like the market is not there. The market is there. It just has to be tapped into and I think once it is tapped into I think the future is bright.”


Data Analyst George Shingai during the 5th Africa Tourism Leadership Forum in Gaborone.

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