Overall, international air traffic to and from the continent has been growing at about 6 percent a year over the last decade, while domestic traffic has been growing at 12 percent, driven largely by an explosion of activity in Nigeria. In southern and eastern Africa, air traffic is growing strongly around hubs in Johannesburg, Addis Ababa, and Nairobi. But in central and western Africa, the market is stagnant, and the vacuum created by the tensions in Côte d’Ivoire and the demise of several regional airlines (notably Air Afrique) remains unfilled. No clear hub has emerged on the west side of the continent. Lagos would be an obvious choice, but it is not currently in a position to play the role.
Regional disparities are evident from a map of Sub-Saharan Africa’s 60 top international routes (see figure). Despite the overall growth in traffic, the number of city pairs served in Sub-Saharan Africa dropped by 229 between 2001 and 2007 as routes were consolidated, spelling a large reduction in air connectivity for many smaller countries. Excluding South Africa, Nigeria, and Mozambique, there was an average annual decline of 1 percent a year and a loss of 137 routes between 2004 and 2007.
The top 60 international air routes in Sub-Saharan Africa