Despite infrastructure deficit, aviation sector produced 7 million jobs in Africa ― Sirika

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika has revealed that despite the huge infrastructural deficit in the aviation sector in Africa, the industry has been able to produce over 7 million jobs in Africa.

Sirika stated this at the ongoing International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) workshop in Abuja to analyse infrastructure development and sources of funding.

He said the stakeholders’ forum was paramount as a way to urgently seek sources and means of funding in order to close the infrastructure gap that exists in the aviation sector in Africa.

According to him, “due to an emerging industrial sector and increasing population. These amongst many other reasons created a tremendous opportunity for progress. Aviation already supports almost seven million jobs and 72.5 billion Dollars GDP.”

Sirika lamented that “in terms of infrastructure requirements to support future capacity; Aviation in Africa and other regions faces some serious constraints due to inadequate airport capacity, and air traffic management technologies and a dearth of aviation personnel.

“Africa aviation requires significant upgrade and expansion to meet the requirements of the projected growth but has to overcome the problem of insufficient access to financial resources for aviation development and modernisation”.

“Consequently, as part of the 2019 AFI Plan Work Programme, this workshop is to provide a basis for the formulation of aviation infrastructure programmes and Master Plans for Africa at State and regional levels.”

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He said the forum will also ensure “the conduct of a preliminary survey on aviation infrastructure in Africa covering Airports, Air Navigation, Services and Aircraft fleet capacity and equipage.”

The Minister added that “you would all agree with me that there is the need for Africa’s Civil aviation infrastructure to be as efficient, effective and sustainable as their counterparts in terms of reliability and versatility of their operations. This, therefore, underscores the importance of the workshop,” he noted.

On his part, the President of ICAO, Bernard Aliyu revealed that Africa accounts for 4 per cent of the global air transport services and has high potentials for growth.

Though he lamented that despite the continent’s population growth, the potentials have not been translated to strong and meaningful development in the African state

He said: “It is therefore urgent for Africa to address it’s aviation infrastructure gaps given current awareness of how air connectivity has become such a unique and indispensable catalyst for socio-economic growth on the continent.

“The launch of the AU single market last year demonstrated Africa’s unity and that aviation connectivity socio-economic Economic benefits are real, sustainable and needs attention and commitment of Africa governments,” he noted.

Aliyu expressed concern over the long term financial mobilising requirements which according to him has become more difficult to meet and represent a great challenge to many African states in accessing funding for the aviation sector.

He said to address the existing and future financing challenges facing aviation infrastructure development and capacity building, ICAO had organised several fora focusing on financing aviation infrastructure in Africa.

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