The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, says the ongoing upgrade of key infrastructure in the aviation sector is aimed at making the nation’s air transportation service one of the safest and most secured in the world.
Sirika said this at the 2018 Summit of the Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN) held in Lagos.
The theme of the summit was: “Promoting the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through Safety Consciousness in the Aviation Industry”.
Sirika was represented by Mr Akin Olateru, the Commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
The minister said that the Federal Government had recognised that the aviation sector was pivotal to its plans to diversify the nation’s economy.
He said: “It is a fact that air transportation will continue to play a key role in promoting economic activities.
“The point remains that aviation practice in our clime is on the path of growth and government is making concerted efforts to ensure that issues likely to inhibit steady growth in the industry is nipped in the bud.
“Interestingly, aviation being one of the major pillars of global economic trade, points to the fact that by the Year 2034, eight of the fastest growing markets in percentage terms will be in Africa.”
According to him, Nigeria remains a major force due to her population on the continent and will, thus ,continue to have a fair share of the growing market, regionally.
The minister said that the government was seriously committed to addressing other issues such as: the need for a true national carrier, improvement of the investment climate as well as the challenges posed by unviable airports in the country.
He listed some strides made so far by the government to include the reconstruction of the Abuja Airport runway, release of air crash reports and improvements and streamlining of travel process.
Sirika said that others are : the rescue of Arik Air from extinction, proposed concession of airports, upgrade of the Lagos Airport Road, connecting the Abuja Airport to the city of Abuja by rail and the introduction of the Ease of Doing Business.
Also, Mr Saleh Dunoma, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), said that the air transportation was supporting no less than 6.8 million jobs and contributing $72.5 billion to the GDP in Africa.
Dunoma was represented by Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, Director of Operations, FAAN.
Dunoma said: “The aviation industry in Nigeria provides approximately 93,000 jobs and contributes 0.2 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP (International Air Transport Association Study of December 2016).
“There are 28,000 jobs directly supported by the aviation sector; 19,000 jobs indirectly supported through the aviation sector’s supply chain; and 8,500 jobs supported through the spending by the employees of the aviation sector and its supply chain.
“In addition, there are a further 38,000 people employed through the catalytic (tourism) effects of aviation.
“The above, coupled with other factors, account for the aviation sector contributing $1.3 billion (0.2 per cent) to Nigerian’s GDP.”
Earlier, Mr Kingsley Nwokoma, the President of AFARN, in his address of welcome expressed optimism that the contribution of the aviation sector to the GDP could be improved upon if the government would upgrade the infrastructure there.
“The survival and growth of the industry is our major concern and that is why we have remained steadfast in bringing professionals and stakeholders together to deliberate on issues necessary for the advancement of the sector.
“We will continue to do this in the years ahead. We also renew our call today on safety which is the bedrock of this industry,” he said.