Ghana’s Minister of Aviation, Hon. Joseph Kofi Adda, has said for West Africa to fully realise its potential in the aviation and tourism sector, the sub region must ensure that there is adequate air connectivity and seamless travel among countries.
He said the role played by the aviation industry in the development of the continent, has not yet come to the realisation of some African governments adding that with increased liberalization of the African aviation industry, some African governments are still reluctant to open their skies fearing foreign competition could undercut their national airlines.
The minister who spoke at the 5th Accra Weizo 2019 Tourism and Travel fair held at La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, stated that Ghana believes in the liberalization of open skies to boost connectivity and had shown commitment by being amongst the African countries who have signed to the Yamoussoukro decision (YD) and SAATM.
Speaking on the theme: “Seamless Travel in West Africa: Challenges and Prospects of Inter-connecting West Africa”, Adda stated that the challenges within the aviation sector would require much more from governments and the private sector.
He added that the sector is bedevilled with a lot of challenges noting that policies relating to regulation of aerospace management needed to be looked at.
He added that the lack of aviation experts and skilled manpower, high airport taxes and fees, weak connectivity and restrictions on transit visas and facilities must be addressed adding that these impediments are affecting Africa’s aviation industry.
He said: “The industry is faced various challenges including poor airport infrastructure, lack of physical and human resources, limited connectivity, and lack of transit facilities. Although substantial progress has been made during the past decade, West Africa still lags behind other regions in terms of “soft” and “hard” infrastructure.”
“There is also the need to ease restrictions on the movement of good and people across borders to facilitate the development of social and economic networks that will have long-lasting effects. The improved flow of people and goods will benefit the host and the originating countries and also increase social economic integration.”
“Seamless air transportation will create the market opportunities for local entrepreneurs by creating regional and global economic centers. This is in line with plans of Government in its facilitation of the Continental free trade Area (CFTA) by the Africa Union. Growth in air transport has direct maps into economic growth due to spill over effects through creation of direct and indirect jobs in the industry and other auxiliary sectors such as tourism and other services sectors. By facilitating tourism and trade, it generates economic growth, improves living standards, alleviates poverty and increases revenue from taxes.”
“Enhancing connectivity within the sub region goes hand in hand with increasing level of safety and security. These two should be key priorities for the development of seamless travel in West African and the development of the aviation industry as a whole. The African authorities have endorsed an African Union (AU) backed plan aimed at addressing deficiencies related to aviation safety and security and strengthening the regulatory framework.”
“As a policy objective, the Government, through the Ministry of Aviation has set out plans to make Ghana both as an aviation hub within West Africa, and as the preferred destination of choice for travellers.”
by Friday Nwosu