Deteriorating infrastructure and inadequate funding have been identified as the major problems facing the nation’s aviation industry.
These and more were the focus of a recent conference organised by the Businessmen Fellowship International at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, with the theme, 'Transformation Agenda Emerging Opportunities.'
There was a consensus about the potential inherent in the industry but that what was needed was a review of the current policies in the sector that would encourage private sector investments.
Some of the polices which industry analysts have consistently pointed out as being detrimental to the growth of the sector include undue government interference in the sector and the lack of political will to formulate policies that would encourage private sector investments among others.
However, with the need to improve infrastructure in the industry, a burden which government cannot undertake alone, there comes the need to attract diverse sources of capital.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Director-General, Harold Demuren, made a strong case for the review of current policies to ensure continued growth and investments, stressing that government alone cannot achieve what was requiredby the industry.
The regulatory authority’s boss said that while other sectors have sourced funds through the capital market for developmental purposes, such had not been the case with the aviation industry. He described aviation as a fast developing industry that was witnessing a phenomenal economic import in terms of the volume of passenger movement and summation of ticket sales.
Demuren highlighted the issue of infrastructure development as key to transforming the country’s economy, stressing that aviation could be utilised as the engine for economic growth with the involvement of the private sector. He however posited that this can only be achieved when the nation’s aviation policies were reviewed to make the industry attractive for private sector investment.
Stressing the need for private sector funding, Demuren said that to develop the infrastructure in the aviation industry, a policy framework that would set the guidelines to encourage the private sector in this area was most desirable.
His words, “What is therefore required at this time is abundant political will, adequate legislation and a review of the civil aviation policy to propose cogent guidelines for infrastructural development in all facets including funding.”
Nick Fadugba, the former Secretary-General of the African Airline Association (AFRAA) also supported a policy framework that would encourage such growth. Speaking at a recent conference in Kenya, Fadugba said, "African governments and aviation regulators, on their part, need to create an enabling environment so as to attract the financial resources and investment that are urgently required to fund the development of the African aviation industry".
Fadugba also recognises that the aviation industry in Africa is witnessing growth but that without a corresponding growth in infrastructure development, it would be difficult for the industry to catch up with other continents. He stressed that a good policy framework was required to attract investment into the industry.