The African Development Bank (AfDB) has invested over $20 billion in transport infrastructure on the continent in the last one decade.
The continental lender said more than $1 billion of the $20 billion was invested in the aviation sector.
Its Chief Aviation Officer, Romain Ekoto made this known in an online interview.
Ekoto said for many years, AfDB has supported commercial aviation in Africa through modernisation of airport infrastructure to address glaring gaps in the continent’s air transport architecture.
He said the lender has set key strategic goals, including regional integration to support aviation because the sector appears more than ever as a contributing factor to economic development.
Citing statistics from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Ekoto said commercial aviation in Africa generates $55.8 billion in economic activity and 6.8 million jobs.
He said in the next 20 years, the sector is expected to grow by about six per cent a year.
He said: “Over the past decade, the AfDB has invested about $20 billion in transportation infrastructure, including more than $1 billion in the aviation sector.
“Around 75 per cent of funding in aviation is devoted to the modernisation of airport infrastructure.”
He said one of the recent projects undertaken by the AfDB was financing the modernisation of Nelson Mandela International Airport at Praia in Cape Verde, which has entered its final phase.
According to AfDB forecasts, on completion, the airport will accommodate over 940,000 passengers yearly by 2020 – and 2.2 million by 2035.
Ekoto said similar investments had been made in the construction or expansion of airports in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and Tunisia, as well as in the improvement of air safety and navigation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
He said: “Another of the key objectives of AfDB is to enhance commercial aviation’s profitability, so improving economic performance. By allowing airport managers to access cost-effective financing, and then working closely with them on governance and revenue generation, they should be able to improve results.
“AfDB is also supporting a regional programme, in the form of grants, for building capacity and coordinating operating systems in twenty five west and central African countries.
“In the long term, AfDB support aims to increase the number of airports certified to ICAO standards to twenty by the end of 2019.”
He said the AfDB also supports other parts of the sector including airlines.
Ekoto said: “We have already financed the acquisition of aircraft by Ethiopian Airlines and, more recently, by Air Côte d’Ivoire.”
By Kelvin Osa Okunbor