Abuja — The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has harped on the urgent need for Nigeria, and other African countries, to upgrade their airport infrastructure to meet projected growth in the aviation industry.
ICAO President, Bernard Aliu, said Africa has the highest growth potential among other continents, even as global passenger traffic has been projected to hit 8.1 billion by 2035.
Aliu, who spoke during the opening ceremony of the Aviation Infrastructure for Africa Gap Analysis Workshop in Abuja, stressed that with the potential of growth in the African Aviation industry, which may be augmented through the Single Africa Air transport market, it is apparent that growth in traffic must be accompanied by commensurate investment and commitment to new and modernize airport and air navigation infrastructure.
"It is, therefore, urgent for Africa to address its aviation infrastructure gaps given current awareness of how air connectivity has become such a unique and indispensable catalyst for socio-economic growth on the continent," he said.
The president lamented that despite the continent's population growth, the potential has not translated to strong and meaningful development.
He, however, said that with continued investment and development of aviation infrastructure, capacity and technology, rapidly expanding air traffic and enhanced air connectivity can be sustained through a regulatory framework that is ICAO compliant and harmonised with other states and regions.
The Secretary General of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), Papa Asuma Fall, mentioned that air navigation system is critical infrastructure gaps that must be addressed in other to become competitive in the global aviation industry.
"There is need for significant effort in air navigation expansion and upgrading programmes in other to accommodate growth in passenger and cargo activities, gradually rehabilitate existing facilities and support aircraft technological advancement."
The Minister of State Aviation, Hadi Sirika, noted that, although aviation in Africa has created about seven million jobs and added about $725 million to Africa's GDP, African aviation industry is facing serious constraints in terms of infrastructure requirements to support future capacity.
Sirika stressed that Africa aviation requires significant upgrade and expansion to meet the requirements of the projected growth but has to overcome the problem of insufficient access to financial resources for aviation development and modernisation.