The African Business Aviation Association, which is celebrating its second birthday this month, has made extraordinary progress since launch under the leadership of its founder and chairman Tarek Ragheb.

Show News caught up with Ragheb in Cairo just before EBACE. Apart from AfBAA’s never-ending job of liaising and lobbying with committees from the 54 African Union countries, he is concentrating on widening the nucleus of successful business aviation clusters within countries that are already performing well.

“Nigeria for example is recognized as the biggest and richest economy in Africa and has the continent’s largest fleet of business aircraft,” Ragheb says. “We want to focus on Nigeria to make sure best practices are in place here as we expand our mission.”

According to one AfBAA board member, more new and pre-owned business aircraft were delivered to Nigeria than to South Africa last year.

Aviation authorities from Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda and Mali have already signed up with the AfBAA, and the association is courting South Africa, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Expanding AfBAA’s membership, currently about 60 after just two years, continues as a priority.

“One of the most important things we need to do now is establish a very robust link between us and the EBAA,” Ragheb says. “That’s very clearly in our best interests and I would think, although I can’t speak for the EBAA, it would also be in their best interests.”

AfBAA is working with the Republic of San Marino and Dalia Air of Morocco to establish the Moroccan company as the first African business jet operator to hold a European AOC. “This should speak volumes about the quality, the safety record and service levels that Dalia Air supplies in Africa,” Ragheb says. “This is a big plus and will build a bridge between Africa and Europe.” Dalia Air operates Embraer Legacy 600 and Lineage 1000 aircraft.

“One of the biggest obstacles in Africa right now is the difficulty of obtaining finance for African business aviation companies,” Ragheb says. “One of the things we’re working on is to make sure that we put finance in place so that African companies can purchase foreign-manufactured aircraft using extra guarantees from overseas and administered by African banks.

“We hope to name the bank, the country and the export guarantee agency as well as the aircraft manufacturer very soon,” said Ragheb.