Ghanaian Aviation Minister, Madam Cecilia Abena Dapaah has urged West African Airport Authorities in the industry to make an effort to reduce operational charges in the sector to promote seamless travel in the region.
Speaking at the 4th Accra Weizo Tourism and Travel Conference held in Ghana, themed: “Harnessing the Opportunities in Aviation Value Chain in West Africa,” the minister noted that the cost of air travel in the region was relatively high compared to other markets in the global aviation industry.
She stated a reduction in the cost of air travel in the region will encourage West Africans to travel within the region and also spur development of aviation infrastructure in the sub-region.
The minister who was represented by the Chief Treasury Officer, of the ministry, Mrs Evelyn Ama Lartey, noted that the Air transportation is the safest, convenient and fastest means of movement of persons, materials, equipment and cargo in the world, adding that it is also a catalyst for business growth, tourism, employment and economic development.
She said: “The growth of international civil aviation operations continues to be a critical enabler and driver of global economic development. It is estimated that the number of international passengers travelling by air will reach 7.8 billion per annum in the year 2036, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Press Release N0. 55 on 24 October 2017.
“It is therefore appropriate for us in the sub-region to look at our airport charges and make conscious efforts to create synergies to unlock private capital in order to develop aviation infrastructure. The cost of air travel among member states within the sub-region must be relatively lower compared to other markets. This will relatively encourage West Africans to travel within the region.
“We therefore have an obligation as stakeholders in the industry to continuously keep in touch in order for us to fully benefit from the opportunities in the sector. I am pleased with the participation of the diverse nature of aviation professionals from the sub-region in this two-day event to assist in the transformation of the aviation industry.
“The theme of this year’s conference is a reflection of our collective responsibility as a Sub-Region to advance the frontiers of the aviation industry through air connectivity. Air connectivity is key to unlocking a country’s economic growth potential, as it enables the country to attract business investment and human capital. An increase in air connectivity also spurs tourism, which is vital to many countries’ economic prosperity.
“General, Business and Commercial aviation have seen strong growth within Africa in terms of number of movements and registered aircraft which have increased steadily over the last few years. Africa is a fertile market for the growth of General, Business and Commercial Aviation as well as Growing Airport Infrastructure. Demand with the prediction of 6.7 million jobs, USD 67.8 Billion GDP, 67 million passengers, 256 airlines, 1,302 aircraft, 762,000 flights and 371 commercial airports in the next decade.
“The outlook for the aviation industry within the sub-region remains bright, with many exciting and challenging job opportunities. The contribution of the aviation sector is therefore expected to rise in the future, in line with the strong demand for air travel. To achieve this, it is imperative to continually build a strong core of aviation specialists and professionals, starting with our youth. We need to ignite the passion for aviation in our youths and excite them with the dynamism and vibrancy of the challenges and opportunities in the aviation industry.
She stated that the ministry has embarked on modernization and construction of key infrastructure in the industry in a bid to make Ghana an aviation hub the sub region.
“We also recognise the fact that a country’s geographical location, airport infrastructure, airline models, regulatory and economic frameworks are key driving factors that can enhance its ability to develop a well-connected network. To this end, our Minister of Aviation has set for itself priority areas and initiated interventions to ensure the realization of the vision of making Ghana an Aviation Hub within the Sub-Region. Some of the initiatives include construction, renovation and modernization of our airports, improving training and development, collaborating with the other sector Ministries, ensuring compliance with international standards and creating the platform for the participation of interested investors.
“Ghana as a Member State of ICAO and ECOWAS is also not reneging on its responsibilities of ensuring a safe and secure aviation industry. At the State or National level, the Ministry of Aviation is committed to providing an enabling environment for various industry stakeholders and the needed support and assistance for the respective industry players.”
By Friday Nwosu