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AfDB pledges support for development of Nigerian aviation sector
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November 21, 2017 10:30:31am GMT      |      Views: 491
Akinwumi Adesina

Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has reiterated commitment of the bank to support the Nigerian Government’s efforts to revitalise the aviation sector.

Adesina made the pledge at the ongoing Third International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) World Aviation Forum (IWAF3) on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said the bank’s support would focus on national airline development, aviation leasing companies, maintenance, repairs and overhaul facilities, development of an aero polis, and cargo terminals for agricultural produce for exports.

AfDB president said that if the nation’s aviation sector improved, Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business would improve further, urging the government to build on its already remarkable achievements on the initiative.

According to him, AfDB strongly supports Nigeria and has confidence in the ability of the country to deliver on its policy commitments.

“As you know, we provided 600 million dollars to support the government to address its budget deficit challenges.

“We are also ready to continue to fully support the government as it embarks on efforts to diversify the economy and raise the revenue profiles and productivity of the non-oil sectors.

“I would also like to congratulate the Minister of State for Aviation for his great efforts to improve the state of aviation in Nigeria.

“The aviation sector is especially important as it opens up doors to investors because, very few invest where it is difficult to travel to.

“That is why ease of access via air travel is strongly correlated to economic growth and air transport promotes trade, investments and tourism, and boosts economic growth,’’ he said.

Adesina disclosed that Africa’s aviation industry had contributed 73 billion dollars to the continent’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employed about seven million people, an average 130,000 people per country in Africa.

He explained that with rapidly increasing population, urbanisation and income growth for the middle class, the aviation industry had been projected to grow by five per cent annually for the next 20 years.

According to him, the industry has grown from serving 120 million passengers in 2015 and will triple and serve more than 300 million passengers by 2035.

AfDB boss said the cost of air travel in Africa remained exorbitantly high, adding that it was 200 per cent more than costs in the European Union and 250 per cent higher than in India for similar distances.

He said that high taxes, fees, and levies charged in Africa were responsible for the high cost.

According to him, it costs 128 dollars to fly between London and Rome, but 597 dollars to fly between Abidjan and Niamey, a shorter distance and just to go from Johannesburg in South Africa, to next door neighbour Lilongwe in Malawi, the cost is 406 dollars.
“Again it also costs more to travel a much shorter distance than from London to Rome. If you require another example of this serious imbalance, consider for a moment that taxes paid for a Lagos to Kinshasa.

“It amounts to 397 per cent which is 300 per cent higher than the total air travel costs between London and Rome.

“You can begin to understand why this is a challenge and a burden for the passenger, for businesses, and ultimately the growth and development of the aviation sector.

“Aircraft departure fees alone in Africa are 30 per cent above the global average, while taxes, fees and charges are eight per cent higher.

“Given lower per capita incomes in Africa, high fares essentially tax the poor out of the air! We may have an open sky policy, but then end up with empty skies,” he said.

The President of ICAO, Dr Bernard Aliu said the organisation was committed to its No Country Left Behind Initiative to ensure that all member-states complied with international standard and best practices.

Aliu said that ICAO was also determined to enhance the contribution of aviation to national GDP of member-states as well as creating more jobs through aviation.

He said that the implementation of 1991 Yamousoukrou Decision was critical to developing African aviation as well as creating opportunities for Nigeria to develop a hub in West Africa.

According to him, the target of ICAO in Africa is to double passengers’ traffic and aircraft movement in a safe and secure manner.

Aliu said the hosting of the IWAF3 in Nigeria, the first time outside ICAO headquarters in Canada was to pay critical attention to infrastructure deficit in aviation industry in Nigeria and Africa at large.

He said the discussion from the forum would form the basis for addressing those challenges.

“As many of you are all aware, ICAO’s No Country Left Behind is aimed at ensuring that all members-states are supported to build a more efficient aviation sector.

“Aviation has generated 2.7 trillion dollars to global GDP and in Africa, it has added more than seven million jobs and 73 billion dollars to GDP which is significant. (NAN)

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