By Ejike Ejike, Abuja
President Mohammed Buhari, yesterday, declared the International Civil Aviation Organisation World Aviation Forum open in Abuja and charged stakeholders to ensure continued growth of the aviation sector.
Speaking at the forum, the president, who was represented by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, said “Everyone agrees that the growth of aviation in Africa would be good for intra African trade, which means improved economies for African countries. There is little commitment to financing aviation infrastructure in africa beyond mere words. The evidence is that it is difficult for aviation stakeholders and even states to access financing to build, rehabilitate airports, Telecommunications equipment, meteorology infrastructure, cargo airlines and others.
“it is clear that the critical responsibility of all stakeholders is to see and ensure that these phenomenal growth trajectory of the industry is managed directly for safety, efficiency taking into account sustainable environment friendly regulations.”
On the importance of the event, PMB said “One of the reason for the timeliness of this meeting is the peculiar challenges of financing aviation infrastructure in Africa.
“There is also no finance direct development in aviation. It also appears that statistics so far as Africa is concerned, neither in the programme for infrastructure development for Africa (PIDA), nor in the new partnership for Africa development is the development of aviation infrastructure given any priority. So there is no better opportunity than this conference for a proper engagement on why and more importantly the practical steps that are required to ensure that Africa aviation is not left behind in the growth story of world aviation. The key to achieving this is collaboration and there are several great stories that Nigeria can tell.”
Also speaking, the Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika said “as you are all aware, IWAF is aimed at high level government officials responsible for aviation, transportation, infrastructure, finance, economy, tourism, key industry and financial partners. The theme of this years Forum, ‘Financing the Development of Aviation lnfrastructure’ could not have been more apt considering the infrastructure deficit facing the aviation sector not only in Nigeria, but in most part of the world. According to the Nigeria Integrated infrastructure Masterplan (NllMP), US$775bn is required to develop Nigeria’s transportation infrastructure over the next 30 years. Along the same line, the African Development Bank (ADB) estimates US$35bn/year (20102020), this of course is focused on four broad sectors i.e. transport and transport infrastructure, electricity & rural Access, water & sanitation, and lCT.
“This deficit on the one hand is bad but on the other. it provides opportunity for investment. It is imperative that in this address l apprise you with the excellent business opportunities in the Aviation Sector at this wonderful country. Nigeria, by its geography is strategically located In the Gulf of Guinea, equidistant from most locations in Africa. with a population of 173 million people and accounts lor about 50 percent of west African Population. Nigerian market serves the West and Central African region. with population of 600 million people. Notwithstanding this potential. It is sad to admit that there to absence of a strong Air Carrier, major Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Centre, an efficient world class airport or even a significant catering company. Nigeria is positioned to take advantage of this opportunity. I strongly believe that Nigeria is the place to put your money. not only because we moved up 24 places in ease ofdoing business recently but more so because the Rate of Return on investment is 34%. one of the highest in the world. “
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