Poor connectivity of air routes in African countries has been cited as a key challenge affecting aviation on the continent denying the region opportunity to reap maximum benefits from the highly valuable untapped opportunities that exist within. International Air Transport Association (IATA) vice president for Africa Raphael Kuuchi, said for some travels within Africa, passengers are forced to fly out of the continent to connect to their destination. Opportunities \u201cRoutes development is a critical component of air transport industry,\u201d said Kuuchi on the sidelines of the 12th edition of the Routes Africa forum at a Mombasa hotel yesterday. Kuuchi said movement between African cities is in itself a challenge either because there are fewer flights or because there are no airlines with the right equipment to provide the services. \u201cThis is why we need a forum like this to bring together airlines and airports to deliberate on the opportunities that exist around the continent and which they can all tap into to develop their business,\u201d he said. Because of connectivity challenges and trade barriers, Kuuchi said, Seychelles is forced to import rice from the UK instead of buying the product from its neighbour Madagascar, which produces the product in plenty. He said opportunities for growth and development of routes exist on the continental free trade agreement and the Single African Airport Transport Market, a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063.