Uche Usim, Abuja
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Tuesday said the Federal government was working closely with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the International Airport Transport Association (IATA) and other stakeholders along the aviation sector value chain to evolve a strategic approach to tackling the perennial infrastructural rot plaguing the aviation sector in Nigeria and in Africa in general.
Speaking at the opening of the 2019 ICAO workshop on infrastructure gap analysis, Sirika said the event provided a perfect platform for stakeholders to exhaustively discuss infrastructure financing openings that can be explored to grow the aviation sector in Africa.
According to him, the aviation sector in Africa holds great potential but has been terribly blighted by a dilapidated infrastructure, resulting in backwardness.
He said: “We need to do a gap analysis to know where the funds are needed and in what proportions. ICAO, IATA, etc are with us here.
“We carried out a survey to arrive at where we are. Infrastructure deficit in Nigeria and Africa is enormous.
“Africa is one of the fastest growing air transport markets in the world; this is due to an emerging industrial sector and increasing population. These amongst many other reasons created a tremendous opportunity for progress. Aviation already supports almost Seven Million jobs and 72.5 billion dollars in GDP.
“However, in terms of infrastructure requirements to support future capacity; aviation in Africa and other regions faces some serious constraints due to inadequate airport capacity, and air traffic management technologies and a dearth of aviation personnel.
“Africa aviation requires significant upgrade and expansion to meet the requirements of the projected growth but has to overcome the problem of insufficient access to financial resources for aviation development and modernisation.
“In November, 2017, the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AFDB) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) hosted the Third ICAO Word Aviation Forum (IWAF3) with the theme “Financing the Development of Aviation Infrastructure”. IWAF3 resulted in the adoption of a Declaration and Framework for a plan of Action for Aviation Infrastructure Development in Africa.
“The declaration called upon ICAO and partners, consistent with their respective mandates, to provide technical expertise, resources and support for the implementation of identified actions for the development of aviation infrastructure in Africa. This is to be determined through appropriate gap analysis”, Sirika explained.
He said ICAO decided that the declaration and framework for a Plan of Action for Development of Aviation Infrastructure in Africa should be implemented under existing arrangements, more specifically under ICAO Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa (AFI Plan).
“Consequently, as part of the 2019 AFI Plan Work Programme, this workshop is to provide the basis for the formulation of aviation infrastructure programmes and Master Plans for Africa at State and regional levels. It follows the conduct of a preliminary survey on aviation infrastructure in Africa covering Airports, Air Navigation. Services and Aircraft fleet capacity and equipage.
“There is the need for Africa’s Civil aviation infrastructure to be as efficient, effective and sustainable as their counterparts in terms of reliability and versatility of their operations,” he added.