ICAO: Overstretched Airport Facilities Threaten Safety, Security in Africa

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Chinedu Eze

The President of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Council, Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu has called for massive investment in airport infrastructure in Africa in view of the surging passenger traffic, which is projected to grow by about 3.6 per cent annually till 2032.

The ICAO Council President warned that if concerted efforts were not made in airport modernisation and expansion, the existing airport facilities would become over stretched and threaten safety and security of passengers.

Aliu spoke on Monday at the on-going 59thAirport Council International (ACI) Africa Board and Committee Meetings and Regional Conference and Exhibition holding at the Oriental Hotel, Lagos.

He said: “The current efforts being undertaken to reposition air transport in Africa, and ensure its sustainability, are in clear acknowledgment of the fact that regional air traffic is still forecast to grow at roughly 3.8 per cent annually through 2032. I will like to reiterate that this rapidly-expanding air traffic can only be sustained and optimised through the continued development and modernisation of local aviation infrastructure, particularly at airports.”

Aliu, a Nigerian and the first African to serve as the President of ICAO Council, remarked that the major challenge in the development of airport infrastructure in Africa is inadequate funding and noted that the private sector may be unwilling to invest in aviation development because there is no defined institutional, legal and regulatory framework that could provide the incentive for institutions to investment in airport infrastructure.

“It has become increasingly difficult however, for many states and airport operators to mobilise the significant and dependable funding and investments required for high quality aviation infrastructure.
Another key concern is the risk associated with a lack of sufficient institutional, legal and regulatory enabling frameworks in many African states, something which makes it very difficult for financial institutions to invest in airport projects,” he said.

Welcoming participants at the conference, the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha said the federal government has continued to promote infrastructural development, facilities renewal and the implementation of policies aimed at facilitating the growth and sustainability of the sector.

Mustapha said two major airports in the country were certified namely: Murtala Muhammed lntemational Airport Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja and there is on-going construction of five new international airport terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu to expand passenger handling capacity to 15 million annually.

He said, currently there is the implementation of Aviation Sector Roadmap, which was approved by the President in 2016, aimed at opening opportunities for investment in the aviation sector.

On his part, the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika said the ACI, Africa was being hosted by Nigeria at a time the country was poised to transform its airport infrastructure and regulatory reforms, adding that the implementation of these policies would boost revenue , reduce capital flight and reinforce safety and security in air transport in the country.

In a speech, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and also the President of ACI, Africa, Saleh Dunoma said he was elated that Nigeria was given the honour to host the meeting and conference, which has the theme: Business Transformation for Sustainable Airports.

Dunoma said AC1 Africa works with its members and also liaises with other International bodies like ACI World, ICAO and others to ensure improved human capacity development by providing various standard and customised trainings in different skill areas to ensure safe, secure and efficiently managed airports.

“Last year, Nigeria signed the agreement to become one of the ‘ AC1 global training centers, to further advance the goal of human capacity development in FAAN and in Africa. The first training after the agreement was conducted in December 2017 where Nigeria received participants from other African countries.

“Over the years, ACI Africa had focused on safety as a priority leading to the initiation of the world wide acknowledged Airport Excellence (APEX) in safety programme. This has recorded great achievements as major airports continue to requests for this programme,” Dunoma explained.