The federal government, yesterday, said there is a need for the introduction of new strategies in order to attain sustainable development of African airports.
The Secretary to the Federal Government (SFG), Boss Mustapha while identifying the strategies at the 59th Airports Council International (ACI) Africa Conference, held at Oriental Hotel in Lagos, yesterday, named them to include: holistic planning for defined development targets; effective and efficient financing plan and successful implementation.
Mustapha, who pointed out that the role of partnership with the private sector cannot be over-emphasised, cautioned that these strategies also need to be complemented by a reliable legal, institutional and regulatory framework to institutionalise policy.
Speaking at the conference with the theme: "Business Transformation For Sustainable Development of African Airports", the SFG stated that the current administration has continued to promote infrastructural development, facilities renewal and the implementation of policies aimed at facilitating the growth and sustainability of the sector.
According to him, some of the key events and projects undertaken to achieve their objectives include: Hosting the international World Aviation Forum (MAP) in Abuja; Certification of two of the Nation's key Airports namely; Murtala Muhammed international Airport Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja; and construction of five new international Terminals (Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu) to expand passenger handling capacity to 15 million annually;
Others are: Implementation of Aviation Sector Roadmap which was approved by the President in 2016 aimed at opening opportunities for investment; Concession of four International Airports as well as the establishment of Search and Rescue Unit to be implemented through Public and Private Partnership; Establishment of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) with the mandate to remove bureaucratic bottlenecks and constraints to doing business in Nigeria and Issuance of Executive Orders aimed at facilitating and easing entry experience of investors, visitors and travellers at the nation's ports.
Emphasising the importance of aviation sector, Mustapha said "the importance of aviation as a critical tool for social and economic development cannot be over emphasized, given its potential for immense contributions to the broader economy. In 2017, the sector facilitated tie movement of over 7.6 billion passengers. 109 million tons of cargo and recorded 89 million aircraft movements. With a highly mobile population of 180 million people, these explain the importance Nigeria attaches to the sector and the reason why Mr. President readily approved the hosting of the event".
He commended ACI, stressing that their core objective as the voice of the world's airports makes the association a ready partner of member states numbering 176 countries with 1,940 airports.
In his own speech, president of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Dr. Benard Aliu pointed out that aviation has become a catalyst for sustainable social, economic and human development, directly and indirectly supporting 6.8 million jobs and generating 72.5 billion dollars in Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
He said that airports serve as veritable gateways to this development and prosperity, facilitating the connectivity, tourism and trade which in turn foster economic growth and new opportunities all over Africa today.
"That connectivity is presently being enhanced with the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia earlier this year, as well as through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AF CF TA) which was newly established by African Heads of State at their meeting in Kigali, Rwanda this past March", Aliu said.
According to him, the current efforts being undertaken to reposition air transport in Africa, and ensure its sustainability, are in clear acknowledgment of the fact that regional air traffic is still forecast to grow at roughly 3.8 per cent annually through 2032.
In his speech, Minister of State Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika commended ACI for their initiatives, stating that the aviation industry has benefited from the Council. He therefore, pointed out that the government must collaborate with member states to improve aviation in Africa.
Sirika also noted that Nigeria has made giant strides through the hosting the International World Aviation Forum in Abuja; Certification of two of the Nation's key Airports, hosting of ACI Africa Conference amongst other milestones recorded.
"This is a clear indication that Nigeria is on the right track. You can see the result of what we are doing in our roadmap. It means that the world is in agreement of what we are doing", Sirika said.
To the ACI president, Engr. Saleh Dunoma, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is most delighted to host the 59th ACI Africa Board and committees meetings & regional Conference and Exhibition here Lagos, Nigeria.
Dunoma while speaking at the event, said that over the years, ACI Africa had focused on safety as a priority leading to the initiation of the world wide acknowledged Airport Excellence (APEX) in safety programme. This he said has recorded great achievements as major airports continue to requests for this programme.