Tuesday , 4 October 2022
Dr Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu, former President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) & Founder and President of International Partners for Aviation Development, Innovation and Sustainablity (iPADIS)

Sub region policy makers, experts insist improved regional connectivity will shore up W/Africa’s economic potential

POLICY makers, implementers, aviation investors and stakeholders have said the West African region has the population and economic potential to drive trade and tourism if there is improved air transport connectivity in the region.

This is just as they have said that the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to change the narrative of how things are done in the region especially as regards regulation and safety to foster better integration and give the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) a chance to work.

Speaking at an ongoing virtual High Level Ministerial Meeting on Enhancing Air Transport Connectivity and Growth in West Africa, organized by Federal Ministry of Aviation in conjunction with International Partners for Aviation Development, Innovation and Sustainability (iPADIS), they expressed hope that the pandemic has given the region an opportunity to get it right and integrate.

Founder of iPADIS and former President of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Dr. Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu in an opening statement said that COVID-19 had presented challenges in the region but prior that the region has had to grapple with others

He said lack of a uniform aviation development globally had stunted development in the region stressing that every society especially the less developed should enjoy the benefit safe and efficient air transport brings.

He said,”COVID-19 pandemic is the single biggest challenge that affects international air transport. However, prior to COVID we were already facing challenges to its long term growth, including lack of uniform aviation development globally. Every society should enjoy the social economic benefit of a safe, secure, efficient; innovative and environmental friendly aviation system.

He called on collaboration between African governments to have the will to implement strategies that would aid recovery and put it on a better stead.

“African governments should collaborate to address the challenges of the sector and those posed by COVID-19, and vigorously chart a path of recovery. African aviation should not plan to return to pre-COVID but plan for profitability.

“We consider air transport in the West Africa region need urgent attention and support than in any other region. ECOWAS has the potentials to turn the condition into a profitable opportunity in the region; we need the political will and determination to turn these crises into opportunity for development. Governments and industry leaders can revitalize the sector.” he said.

Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, who gave the opening address, highlighted some of the challenges militating against the region’s aviation sector.

According to him, West Africa with its member countries has potential with its population to have a vibrant transport and tourism industry asking for political will to implement commitments made earlier as air transport has the potential to grow trade in the region.

Former Director General of the NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren canvassed for removal of obstacles with regards integration and movement within the region stressing that once the region is perfectly integrated it would create a hub effect.

Demuren “We need a single West Africa hub, let us turn West Africa to a domestic hub, let’s have an open sky for West Africa, let us dismantle the obstacles but we need the political support of our Ministers, once we do this, the issue of connectivity will be addressed. We also need the support of governments in the area of FOREX, single digit interest rate for airlines as well as airlines embracing technology.”

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