The International Partners for Aviation Development, Innovation and Sustainability (iPADIS) in collaboration with the Nigerian Ministry of Aviation hosted a Ministerial Meeting to drive aviation development in West Africa.
The virtual event titled, High Level/Ministerial Meeting on Enhancing Air Transport Connectivity and Growth in West Africa, brought together top-level stakeholders and global experts to seek workable ways of moving aviation forward in West Africa amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Meeting sought to fast-track the active engagement of West Africa’s population of over 380 million people within fifteen (15) countries to benefit from efficient and sustainable air transport system in the region.
With a total land mass of 5,112,903 Sq. km, which has many historical and cultural touristic sites, the region boasts of over forty (40) international airports, relatively well-resourced air navigation service providers and good centers of aviation training.
Whereas there have been significant efforts at regional integration and approaches to the development of air transport including through ECOWAS, BAG, UEMOA, ASECNA, Roberts FIR, BAGASOO, BAGAIA, AAMAC, etc. as well as Africa-wide commitments such as African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) and Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), the benefits of efficient air transport and development are inadequate in the region.
The ECOWAS has implemented protocols to facilitate free movement of people among member States since the 1970s and fourteen (14) of the States in the region have made solemn commitment to SAATM, yet this has not yielded the needed aviation benefits in the region.
Given the huge aviation and tourism potentials in Wes Africa, the online Meeting sought to enhance integration, collaboration and innovation in the efforts to improve aviation in West Africa.
Mr. Abdérahmane Berthé AFRAATThe Meeting also sought strategies to promote speedy recovery among operators in the region in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic which has hit the aviation industry hardest.
he Minister of Aviation for Nigeria, Sen. Hadi Sirika, called on Ministers and governments in the region to work closely together to address challenges identified in the region.
Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, Founder and President of iPADIS, emphasized the importance of technology and innovation, as well as future preparedness to manage effectively the challenges in the region which have been existing pre-COVID and compounded by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event was attended by industry experts including the President of ICAO Council Mr. Salvatore Sciacchitano, the Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Dr. Fang Liu; Secretary General, UNWTO, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili; Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, African Union Commission, Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid.
Also at the Meeting were the President of the ECOWAS Commission Mr. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou; the Secretary-General of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), Mr. Tefera Mekonnen Tefera; Engr. Hassan Musa, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Aviation, Nigeria; and the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu.
Capt. Edward Boyo, Publisher of Aviation & Allied Business Journal and Chief Executive Officer of Overland Airways, one of West Africa’s leading airlines, also called for synergies, removal of high taxes and improvement of teh operating environment in West Africa.
The Secretary General of ACI-Africa, Mr. Ali Tounsi, and the Secretary General of The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) were also at the Meeting.
The recommendations of the Meeting are expected to form part of the strategies of policy makers and regulators and government in dealing with the varied challenges facing aviation in West Africa.