Africa Airport capacity key to continent’s sustainable prosperity–ICAO

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*Aliu, delivering his keynote address at the 59th ACI-Africa conference in Lagos.

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) council president, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu has highlighted that Africa’s rapidly-expanding air traffic can only be sustained and optimised through the continued development and modernisation of local aviation infrastructure, particularly at airports.

Addressing African aviation and government leaders at the 59th Airports Council International’s (ACI’s) 2018 Africa Regional Conference concluded in Lagos recently, Aliu said: “The industry here generates very positive impacts on tourism and trade, directly and indirectly supporting 6.8 million jobs and generating 72.5 billion dollars in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But due to the more recent and effective focus on air transport liberalization, many African hub airports are now expected to exceed their capacity by 2020.”

Aliu who delivered his keynote address at the opening of the conference also noted that airport modernisation and capacity “is a key reason why ICAO’s Global Plans are designed to establish globally-harmonized aviation objectives and requirements in support of the worldwide modernization which is now underway.”

He stressed that ICAO’s goal in this respect “is to ensure there are no constraints of infrastructure capacity, technology and financial resources for aviation development,” and noted that ICAO’s World Aviation Forum events are specifically designed to address these concerns and bring project planners and financiers together.

Another key development priority stressed by Aliu was that related enhancements in human capacity development, through improved education and training, should be seen as “directly supportive of the sustainability of any new infrastructure project or new capacity being considered.”

From a more operational standpoint, he drew attention to the fact that airport facilities are much more than just impressive new terminal buildings, and that ICAO remains concerned that many African airports are seeking to attract international flights without the requisite certifications.

“More attention must continue to be paid to the airside safety priorities at Africa’s airports,” he said, “including international airport perimeter fencing, taxiway and runway safety, effective fire services, and better wildlife management,” he remarked.

The president concluded by focusing upon the important aviation security role of airports today, and the many new innovations which are helping them to operate with less noise and emissions than in the past.

During his mission, Aliu met with the minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, to discuss the Nigeria progress on the development of aviation infrastructure and related partnerships subsequent to ICAO’s World Aviation Forum event held in Abuja, Nigeria last November.

Sirika had briefed the ICAO chief on recent investments made in upgrading the Nigerian aviation training school in Zaria, an ICAO-endorsed Regional Training Centre of Excellence, and the need and means to promote the facility to greater regional benefit was also discussed.

He also spoke to chief executive officers of the Nigerian aviation agencies regarding safety, security, passenger facilitation, and environmental performance priorities.

In discussions with ACI’s director general, Ms. Angela Gittens, Aliu applauded her organization’s successful Airport Excellence (APEX) in-security programme while noting further collaborative opportunities for the two Organizations.

He also expressed his deep appreciation to DG Gittens for ACI’s determined support to-date of ICAO’s ‘No Country Left Behind’ assistance and capacity-building priorities.

The ACI Conference was declared open by the secretary to the government of the federation, Mr. Boss Gida Mustapha, in the presence of over 280 participants from 47 Countries and numerous international organizations.

Also present were chief executive officers from the aviation industry (airports, airlines, air navigation service providers, manufacturers, etc.) and members of the Nigerian Senate and House of Representatives and other senior government officials.

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