Safety is the biggest concern facing the aviation industry in Africa, according to Iata.

The continent’s airline safety record is nine times worse than the global average with one accident for every 305,000 flights.

Iata director general and chief executive Tony Tyler (pictured), speaking at a conference in Dakar, Senegal, said: “The most pressing problem for African aviation today is safety. It should be as safe to travel by air in Africa as it is in any other part of the world.”

The organisation is working towards creating an Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan aimed at addressing safety deficiencies in three years time.

“The goal of the Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan is to achieve world-class safety levels across Africa by 2015,” said Tyler.

“Africa faces many common challenges. In addition to safety, these include inadequate infrastructure, ‘brain drain’ and skills building, finding sources for capital, fleet modernisation, building competitiveness and much more.”

Tyler conceded that aviation is not the top priority for many of Africa’s governments.

“Eliminating poverty, improving health, raising living standards, and generating jobs rank much higher,” he said. “My message is not to shift priorities, but to ask governments to see aviation as an economic driver and develop policies to support that important role.”