Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has urged African governments to strengthen coordination and harmonisation of their regional policies and regulations to stimulate growth and expand opportunities in the aviation industry.
According to him, progress in the aviation sector would not be sustained if the countries did not work together adding that "There is the need for us to collaborate to eliminate unhealthy fragmentation, minimise excessive regulation and protection of country airlines."
Opening the two-day International Air Transport Association (IATA) Regional Aviation Forum in Accra yesterday, the Vice President said such cooperation, especially in the area of aviation, was crucial for information sharing and adherence to industry regulations which were necessary to support efforts to combat emerging security threats in the sub-region.
Held on the theme "Aviation: Business for Regional Prosperity", the event brought together stakeholders in the aviation industry from across Africa and Asia to discuss ways to tap opportunities in the sector and increase its contribution to the overall development of the countries.
Although Africa was projected to be one of the fastest growing aviation regions in the next two decades, Dr Bawumia stated that the airline industry in the region was confronted with many challenges including high taxes, fees, fuel cost and insurance.
Low access to financing which results in limited investments in new aircraft, limited cooperation in flight scheduling and insufficient connectivity between capital cities as well as fragmentation of regional airline market, he said, were impediments to the growth of the aviation sector in the sub-region.
To minimise the impact of these challenges, he said, the government in 2017, abolished the 17.5 per cent value added tax on domestic air travel which had resulted in an increase in domestic air transport within the past two years as well as rapid growth in commercial activities across the country.
He said key amongst the government's plan was to improve infrastructure at the Kumasi, Tamale, and Takoradi airports in addition to the Kotoka International Airport Terminal 3 adding that construction of Tamale Airport Phase II would commence soon.
As part of efforts to make Accra an aviation hub in the sub-region, the Vice President noted that Ghana would soon launch a home-based carrier to provide regional and intercontinental flights within the West African sub-region.
He reiterated the government's commitment to align and integrate Ghana's aviation infrastructure development plans with an appropriately balanced development of transport modes, and link them with national and regional development plans and strategies.
"The benefits to trade, to business people who are seeking to expand markets are immense. Aviation also contributes to creating jobs, stimulating tourism and trade among other benefits. We share a common interest in maximising aviation benefits, and reaffirm Government's commitment towards creating an enabling economic environment and political willingness to mainstream and reflect the priorities of the aviation sector in the global, regional and national agenda," Dr Bawumia added.
Regional Vice President of IATA, Muhammad Ali Albakri, called for collaboration between African governments and the aviation industry to remove barriers impeding the growth of the sector, while implementing joint action plans to maximise the impact of the aviation sector.
For Africa, he said, such collaborations should focus on improving safety, infrastructure and capacity-building, financial sustainability, high industry costs and build connectivity which could be achieved through the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM).
Minister of Aviation, Joseph Kofi Adda, urged all African governments to fully commit to the implementation of the SAATM which would ensure liberalisation of access to air transport markets in the continent as well as promote the realisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.