By Sade Williams
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, on Monday itemized strategies that African states would need to implement to achieve sustainable development of their airports, saying it is time for the transformation of the continent’s aviation business.
Speaking after declaring open the 59th Airport Council International (ACI) Africa Board and Committees Meetings and Regional Conference and Exhibition open in Lagos, he said that though, efforts made over the years have significantly improved the state of aviation infrastructure in the continent, African States still need to upgrade facilities, improve operations, service quality, security and airspace safety.
While listing the strategies to adopt for a sustainable development, he said holistic planning for defined development targets; effective and efficient financing plan and successful implementation of such would change the face of infrastructure.
According to him, the role of partnership with the private sector cannot be over-emphasised in achieving sustainable development, adding that all of these would be complemented by a reliable legal, institutional and regulatory framework to institutionalise policy.
Mustapha, who said the theme for the Conference ‘Business Transformation for Sustainable Development of African Airports’ was most appropriate, as African countries including Nigeria, are intensifying efforts to improve aviation infrastructure to boost the continent’s economic development, added that in order to transform aviation business in Africa, countries would be expected to continue to attain and maintain global safety standards; trive to achieve competitiveness and user friendliness and install infrastructure and navigational aids to maximize aircraft utilisation for passenger and cargo movement.
He added that achieving costs competitiveness, developing integrated multimodal transport system around the airports and diversification of revenue lines, would also help member states in transforming aviation business in the continent.
“The importance of aviation as a critical tool for social and economic development cannot be over emphasized, given Its potential for Immense contributions to the broader economy. In 2017, the sector facilitated the movement of over 7.6 billion passengers, 109 million tons of cargo and recorded 89 million aircraft movements. With a highly mobile population of 180 million people, these explain the importance Nigeria attaches to the sector and the reason why Mr. President readily approved the hosting of the event”, he said.
He noted that Nigeria has continued to promote infrastructural development, facilities renewal and the implementation of policies aimed at facilitating the growth and sustainability of the Sector.
“Some of the key events and projects undertaken to achieve our objectives include: Hosting the international World Aviation Forum (MAP) in Abuja, Nigeria; Certification of two of the Nation’s key Airports namely; Murtala Muhammed lntemational Airport Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja; Construction of five new lntemational Terminals (Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu) to expand passenger handling capacity to 15 million annually;
“Implementation of Aviation Sector Roadmap which was approved by the President in 2016 aimed at opening opportunities for investment; Concession of four International Airports as well as the establishment of Search and Rescue Unit to be implemented through Public and Private Partnership.
Other are: Establishment of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) with the mandate to remove bureaucratic bottlenecks and constraints to doing business in Nigeria and Issuance of Executive Orders aimed at facilitating and easing entry experience of investors, visitors and travellers at the nation’s ports.
He added that the full implementation of the Aviation Roadmap which is progressing in line with milestone targets will result in the transformation of business and economic growth in the sector.
“This administration is committed to attracting investors and investments into Nigeria and is providing appropriate legislation, infrastructure and security to protect them. Our goal is long-term business sustainability and we are happy to have a dependable ally in ACI”, he added.