President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria has not done well in the area of aviation infrastructure despite the huge potentials in air transport sector.
The President stated this yesterday at the opening of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) World Aviation Forum in Abuja.
According to him, Nigeria’s aviation sector needs to prepare for exponential growth as predicted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which puts current forecast air transport growth in the sector to double in the next 20 years.
Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, also noted that aviation remains an economic force with growth in the coming years guaranteed.
Current forecast indicate that the market volume would double in the next 20 years, characterised by 4.6 per cent annual growth rate for passenger traffic and 4.4 per cent for freight traffic.
Buhari observed the total economic impact of global aviation industry reached $2.7 trillion and some 3.5 per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014.
He noted that the air transport sector also supported a total 62.7 million jobs in the world, with 9.9 million direct jobs, with airports, airlines, air navigation and others employing three million people also in 2014.
“While everyone agrees that the growth of aviation will be good for intra-Africa trade, integration and improve economies of African countries, there is little commitment to financing aviation infrastructure in Africa beyond mere words.
“The evidence is that it is difficult for aviation stakeholders and even states to access financing to build or rehabilitate airports, telecommunications equipment, meteorological infrastructure and cargo warehouses among others,” he said.
The President added that most worrisome in the development programme of Africa countries, including the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), is the lack of priority for aviation infrastructure development.
Buhari, however, urged stakeholders at the forum to come forth with practical steps to ensure that African aviation is not left behind in the growth story.