The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has stated that deficit in aviation infrastructure had been a major setback for the development of efficient air transport sector in Africa.
Sirika stated this at the opening of a two-day workshop on Aviation Infrastructure For Africa Gap Analysis organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said that Africa had become one of the fastest growing air transport markets in the world due to an emerging industrial sector and increasing population.
According to him, these amongst many other reasons creates tremendous opportunity for progress as aviation already supports almost seven million jobs and 72.5 billion dollars in gross domestic product.
He said: “However, in terms of infrastructure requirements to support future capacity, aviation in Africa and other regions face some serious constraints due to inadequate airport capacity, air traffic management technologies and dearth of aviation personnel.
“Africa aviation requires significant upgrade and expansion to meet the requirements of the projected growth but has to overcome insufficient access to financial resources for aviation development and modernisation.
“You would all agree with me that there is the need for Africa’s civil aviation infrastructure to be as efficient, effective and sustainable as its counterparts in terms of reliability and versatility of their operations.”
Bernard Aliu, President, ICAO Council, said that Africa accounted for about four per cent of global air transport services and had the highest potential for growth out of all global regions.
Aliu, however, lamented that in spite of the continent’s large population, its potential had not yet translated into strong and better development in African States.
He disclosed that the ICAO air traffic forecast indicated that the current global traffic figures, which stood at 4.1 billion passengers transported on 38 million flights, were expected to double in the next 15 years.
According to him, passengers and traffic specifically in the African region are expected to grow approximately by 4.3 per cent and 3.8 per cent annually through 2025.
He said: “We consider the potential of this growth, and especially how much it should be operated through the African Union’s very important initiative toward the development of the single African air transport market.
“However, it becomes apparent that the growth in traffic must be accompanied by commensurate investment and commitment to new and modernised airport and air navigation equipments.
“It is, therefore, urgent for Africa to address the aviation infrastructure gaps, given current awareness on how airport activities have become indispensable catalysts for socio economic growth of this continent.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the workshop, a follow up on the ICAO World Aviation Forum held in November 2017 in Abuja, has about 150 delegates from African countries as participants.
The workshop, according to ICAO boss is expected to set a basis to formulate quality aviation infrastructure programme and master plan for Africa, at state and regional levels with agreed scope, broad and specific objectives.
In line with the objective of the workshop, a preliminary survey on aviation infrastructure in Africa covering airports, air navigation services, and air operators with respect to fleet capacity will be conducted.
Sirika added: “State by State sample infrastructure gap analysis as relates to the present demand will be presented on the basis of the data obtained from the survey and other relevant information from the various stakeholders.”