…say sector needs $50bn to turnaround
By Sade Williams
Experts from different sectors, especially, aviation, on Tuesday, decried attitudes of both past and present governments towards the development of aviation infrastructure and human capacity, saying the sector needs over $50 billion for it to turn around in all areas.
The experts, who converged at Renaissance hotel, Ikeja at the 2017 Colloquium on Vision 2050:
How to fast track Nigeria’s Aviation, organised by Nigeria Travels Mart (NTM), also accused some airline operators of not training local manpower as expected, saying they preferred expatriates to nationals whom should have been trained and then give back to the system.
Opeyemi Agbaje, Chief Executive Officer of RTC Advisory Services Limited, who delivered a paper on ‘Raising Capital to Finance a Vision 2050 Plan”, said due to infrastructure deficit and other issues crippling the Nigerian aviation industry, it would require over $50 billion to develop by 2050.
According to him, ‘we have seen the evidence of government’s incapacity, it is a mystery but Nigeria’s infrastructure challenge generally and in transport and aviation boils down to a simple question of how do we attract global FDI flows into Nigerian aviation?
“It requires a stable macroeconomic environment; forward-looking and proactive policy; a clear and compelling vision for the industry shared by all stakeholders including government and the private sector; and regulation that seeks to foster industry transformation (not just collect revenues);
Investors and financial institutions, global and domestic, will do the rest. The answer is DFI and regulation that works”.
Also speaking, Ali Magashi, Chief Executive Officer, Katari Consult Ltd, said the only way to fill the manpower gap in the sector is the establishment of a national carrier, adding that this will also go a long way in addressing infrastructural deficit .
Magashi, who spoke on ‘Nigeria aviation vision 2050: The National Carrier Airline as panacea to fast track the growth of Aviation in Nigeria’, posited that real training in the sector ended when Nigeria Airways was liqiuated.
According to him, ‘A national carrier that is floated and run efficiently will reduce our transport infrastructure deficit, help in the development of our economy and provide multiple jobs.
“A national carrier will help in developing aviation leasing companies, maintenance hangers, flight simulators and related training facilities, thereby creating more job opportunities. A national carrier will stimulate the development of more travel agencies and the hospitality industry, thereby providing more jobs.
“A national carrier will bring about economic empowerment to many people through forward linkages in aircraft leasing and finance, and backward linkages of hospitality and air travel support. The aviation industry supports about 62.7 million jobs around the world, as such, a national carrier airline will help in boosting economic activity and stimulation”, he said.
He noted however that for the national carrier to effectively come on stream, there must be political will and sincerity of purpose, noting ‘for this to work, the presidency will have to drive this with all the political might and sincerity of purpose to avoid political interference’.
He said vested interest must be done away with.
“The process of aircraft purchase and other related procurement processes should be done government to government with governments of selected aircraft manufacturers, to avoid extra third party added costs. The process of feasibility and business plan should be open and transparent and it should involve local stakeholders for hands-on local market input.
“Merit should determine recruitment, not politics and/or federal character, especially at the executive management level. Competence, experience and success story track records should guide the process of executive recruitment – for example a minimum qualification experience of managing an airliner with a minimum of a hundred line airplanes for accountable manager and post holders”, he added.
Harold Demuren, former director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), lamented that despite the fact that ‘Nigeria is a natural hub’, government was yet to do the right thing.
He said infrastructure is key if Nigeria really needs to be the centre of attraction in Africa, adding ‘airports environments must be friendly, we need to do what big airlines are doing well to move forward.
“Airlines have to join alliances, if they had done that earlier, they would not be where they are today. On infrastructure, we need to look at land and airsides of airports. Airside is so critical, building terminals alone will not improve safety, if there is no light on the runway, it is bad.
“Above all, there must be regulation without political interference”, he said.