Africa remains one of the greatest potential markets for air transport on the globe and this year's annual Aviation Africa summit and exhibition will explore even further afield with the show organisers promising speakers that are both down to earth and out of this world. The event takes place in Kigali, Rwanda (27-28 Feb 2019).
Headline presenters include one of the top names among airline CEOs, the current chairman of the International Air Transport Organisation (IATA) and the CEO of the successful Middle Eastern carrier Qatar Airways, H.E. Akbar Al Baker; and stretching destinations even further is globally recognised inspirational speaker Dr Adriana Marais, the South African set to become Africa's first extra-terrestrial when she completes her one-way mission to Mars.
The event - which is run by Times Aerospace- began in Dubai four years ago. The UAE was selected because of its hub status and ease of visa rulings. This is a philosophy shared by Rwanda, which offers a visa-free entry to African countries and entry on arrival to others, said Times Aerospace managing director Mark Brown. "The beauty of this means that we have visitors, speakers, exhibitors and key government delegations coming from all over Africa," he said.
Akbar Al Baker, will be centre stage for the air transport segment of the summit.
"Qatar is one of the airlines that has been expanding into Africa in recent years," Brown said. "There has often been concern expressed by African airlines about the growth of non-African airlines, but I think many of them may not have heard Mr Al Baker share his views. I know they are in for a treat." Mr Al Baker will be on stage for a one-on-one interview with summit chairman Alan Peaford MBE.
Airline leaders from across Africa - both from English-speaking and Francophone countries - will be also talking at or visiting the summit, which will be addressing issues such as protectionism, search and rescue, infrastructure, airline finance, aviation services, regulation and innovation.
Stepping into the unknown will be key to the presentation by Dr Marais - a quantum biologist, a theoretical physicist, the director of the South Africa Space Foundation and head of innovation for SAP Africa. She is part of the Mars One project which is currently going through its selection process to take 24 astronauts to move to the Red Planet and begin building a society there.
"She is an incredible speaker and has been inspiring school children and adults to look up to the skies and think about the new horizons - and what value space exploration can bring to earth. She genuinely changes the way people think about our planet and it is fantastic that she will be sharing her incredible story here on her own continent."