Air transport plays a key role in economic development and in supporting long -term growth.
It facilitates a country’s integration into the global economy, provides direct benefits for users and has wider economic benefits through its impact on productivity and growth.
To maximise the potential in aviation, President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria will sustain investment in its safety and security.
Buhari made the declaration while address at the opening ceremony of 14th ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) Air Services Negotiation through his Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
The president said Nigeria would achieve this through its on-going support for the comprehensive regional implementation plan for Aviation Security and the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) plans.
According to him, Nigeria is a signatory to both the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the Memorandum of Implementation (MoI) of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).
“SAATM is a critical component of the African Union Agenda 2063, aimed at rapid economic development, integration, facilitation of trade and commerce and free movement of persons.
“Another significant contribution is our hosting of the Headquarters of Banjul Accord Group Aviation Safety Oversight Organisation (BAGASOO).
“We are also a major contributor and participant in Regional Accident Investigation Agency, Banjul Accord Group Accident Investigation Agency (BAGAIA).
“Recently Nigeria made a donation to ICAO voluntary Air Transport Fund in order to be part of global efforts for recovery from the Corona virus pandemic (COVID-19)”, Buhari said.
Buhari said Nigeria, as a member of the ICAO Council since 1962, had continued to collaborate with other member states in making valuable contributions to the work of the Council and its activities.`
“I wish to reaffirm that these efforts would be intensified particularly in offering support and assistance to other developing States.
“One of the fundamental building blocks of the solid partnership between Nigeria and ICAO is our commitment to supporting the implementation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices”, Buhari said.
Nigeria’s investment in the aviation sector has yielded some dividends as Buhari acknowledged that it has enabled the nation connect its citizens with the growing number of stakeholders in and outside the sector.
The president reiterated that the nation took its commitment seriously to champion the cause of Aviation Safety, Security and Facilitation in Africa.
“Huge investments have been made in the area of the provision of aviation infrastructure and facilities to further create an enabling operating environment for a more efficient and profitable industry”, he said.
Buhari’s views are shared by the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirka, has started the implementation of a Single Air Transport Market in Africa (SAATM) to advance liberalization in the aviation sector.
Sirika said that SAATM, being a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063, would boost the continent`s economic integration agenda and boost local economies.
“It will also open the boarders to connect the whole world together.
“Aviation ought to play its role in connecting our markets, places, friends and families among others“, a recent media report quoted the minister as saying”, he said.
Similarly, another African country, the Republic of Seychelles is also optimistic that SAATM would contribute to transforming the continent’s aviation sector.
Seychelles Minister of Transport, Mr Anthony Derjacques, said at the ICOA meeting that opening air arrangements would boost traffic, drive economies and create jobs.
Mr James Odaudu, said Nigeria was expanding and upgrading its aviation infrastructure to tap into the economic potential of the aviation market.
In a recent interview in Abuja with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), affirmed the completion of the remodeling of 12 terminal buildings at domestic airports across the nation.
According to him, the remodeled 12 terminal buildings are at the domestic airports in Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, Jos, Kaduna, Owerri, Ilorin, Ibadan, Calabar, Akure, Maiduguri and Yola.
“Currently in Nigeria, the number of airports including those currently being developed has doubled; passengers numbers have quadrupled, other entrepreneurship including catering and ground handling has blossomed, number of airlines and jobs has doubled.”, he said.
As the year comes to an end, stakeholders are expectant that in the years ahead the reforms and infrastruture expansion will propel the nation’s aviation sector to contribute more to economic growth.