AfDB earmarks $600m for aviation sector infrastructural development

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*Sirika and Adesina

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has set aside $600m to support infrastructural development of Nigeria’s aviation sector as well as assist government’s diversification drive of the economy.
The president of AfDB, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina who disclosed this at the World Aviation Forum (WAF) in Abuja also said the bank had contributed about $20 billion to develop infrastructure on the continent.
Out of the amount, Adesina said $1 billion was spent on developing aviation infrastructure in Africa.
Adesina described aviation industry as a “catalyst to development” noting that with effective infrastructure and commitment from the continent’s governments, aviation would add an additional $73 billion to the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP).
However, he expressed disappointment at the cost of air travel on the continent, which, according to him, “is over 200 per cent higher than Europe and 250 per cent higher than that of India.
He said air travel is high in Africa because of unwarranted charges and taxes, which add up to airfares.
The AfDB president therefore called on African governments to address the situation in order to make air travel more accessible to its people.
Besides, he urged the governments to open the airspace more for intra-Africa air operations.
Also speaking, the minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika said $775 billion would be required to address infrastructural deficit in the aviation sector.
He said Nigeria is strategically located to the Gulf of Guinea with markets boasting of varieties.
“Nigeria with a population of estimated 170 million people, represents half of the entire population in West Africa, ought to play a leading role not just in the sub-region, but on the continent.
“Aviation is certainly the way to go and the only way for our country to develop. This ICAO’s forum is the only way to develop the sector in this country.
“I believe Nigeria is the best place for investors to invest their resources. The federal government and some stakeholders in the sector have come together to develop aviation roadmap, which entails security and safety. Our national carrier project would be private sector driven, but with a maximum of 5 per cent resources from the government,” he added.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari said AfDB was collaborating with the federal government to address the decay in infrastructure, especially in the aviation industry in Nigeria.
Buhari, who was represented at the WAF by the vice-president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, described infrastructure gap on the continent as a “huge challenge confronting the aviation industry.”
In 15 years time, Buhari said passenger and freight movements would increase on the continent.
However, he expressed worry that the infrastructure on the ground may not be able to adequately address the challenge.
To address the issue, the president said African governments “need to collaborate with major private investors” to address most of the challenges.

 

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