On 3 October 2012, The United Arab Emirates (represented by Mr. Omar Bin Ghaleb, Deputy Director General of the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA)) signed an air services Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Air Services Agreement (ASA) with the Government of Zimbabwe (represented by Mr. Munesushe Munodawafa, Secretary for Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development).
The agreements which are effectively ‘open skies’ agreements allow for full route access, capacity, number of frequencies and types of aircraft in either a passenger or cargo capacity between the two countries. Also present at the event were various interested parties which included representatives from Emirates, Etihad and RAK Airways. Given that Air Zimbabwe’s international operations are currently grounded, the aforementioned (with Emirates in particular) would be particularly interested in the agreements going through since they face no competition on the route and stand to profit from it.
As already mentioned, the route will facilitate for increases in freight and passenger services between the two nations and will make trade much easier. But, you can’t help wonder why the push to secure such trading links with Zimbabwe and other Sub-Saharan countries?
Middle Eastern countries like the UAE have been increasing their investments in Africa and have also been eyeing and buying land in various African nations to ensure a steady supply of food for it’s people. Having open skies agreements with Zimbabwe and other African nations further cements their foothold in Africa with investments that may not necessarily benefit Africans.
The question is, where will this coupled with Chinese investment leave us in years to come?