Africa: My Account Of The Chinet Aviation And Cargo Conference 2021

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The event was maiden; the timing was right; the Speakers were well-versed; the Panelists were finely selected; the Participants were active; the goal was common; the venue was prestigious; the Guests were special; the Convener, a phenomenal Tourism Guru; and the female Comperè, a rare blend of beauty and brains .

This, in a nutshell, encapsulates the 2021 Chinet Aviation and Cargo Conference which held for two consecutive days at the luxurious Marriot Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria.

In terms of turnout, outcome, participation and representation from Stakeholders in both public and private arms of the Aviation Industry, there was nothing humble about this beginning, which in the end, left many persons imagining what subsequent editions would be like.

READ: Africa: At Chinet “Foreign cargo airlines depart Nigeria empty over extortion, multiple charges”- Experts

The event which held in two parts commenced with the opening ceremony, with the Comperè, former Mrs. Tourism United Nations World, Ebele Enemchukwu, inviting the Convener, Amb. Prof. Ikechi Uko for his welcome address, which perfectly set the tone for the entire event. Goodwill messages followed and kept coming in from Industry Titans as the event progressed.

The first paper, from where panel conversations on Day One took root, was delivered by the former Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr. Richard Aisebiogun, on the topic, “The Viability Of Airports In Nigeria and Why Airlines Fail”. As though to make for more robust conversations, the Moderator of the Panel, Mr. Percival Uwechue expertly presented the paper, “Understanding Aviation Business In Nigeria”.

In the order in which I invited them to take their seats on stage, this formidable panel comprised:
– The former Acting Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr. Benedict Adeyileka;
– The Managing Director, Daniel Young Global Investment Ltd., Dr. Daniel Young;
– Aviation Security Consultant and Secretary General, ARTI, Group Captain John Ojikutu;
– CEO, Belujane Konzult, Mr. Chris Aligbe;
– Head, Research and Corporate Travel, Zenith Consult, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo;
– The Principal Managing Partner, Avaero Capital Partners, Mrs. Sindy Forster.
– Being unavoidably absent for the panel discussions, Dr. Alex Nwuba, President of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Nigeria, made insightful contributions later.

READ: Africa: At Chinet Expert says $250bn Agro-Export Opportunity in Nigeria Stifled by Bureaucracy and Charges

What followed was a high-impact panel discussion from subject-matter Experts with intimidating credentials. So intimidating that the Ogun State Commissioner for Finance, Hon. Dapo Okubadejo, who made a presentation on “Ogun Cargo Airport” may have wished his session was not programmed to occur while this panel sat. I overheard someone say, “Those Panelists made him sweat”. They may have, but I believe he handled the barrage of questions/complaints/criticisms, as well as a true professional would. Whatever the case, I believe the hit and heat all came from a good place and towards the same quest for a better industry for all.

Insights on Insurance and Law as they relate to Aviation In Nigeria were respectively handled by Chief Babajide Olatunde-Agbeja, Chairman of Boff & Company Insurance Brokers Limited and Lawrence Fubara Anga, SAN, Chairman, Bristow Helicopters and Partner, ǼLEX. Solomon Mekonnen and Shimeles Arage represented Ethiopian Airlines, sharing lessons on “How To Grow Cargo Business In Africa”.

ON THE SECOND DAY OF CHINET…
Just when we thought Day 1 was loud enough, the volume got turned up on Day Two. The excitement to get into the day’s activities was palpable. Beyond bold headlines on national dailies and other online and offline news outlets, it was clear to all that this was the birth of many great things in realms of Export and Cargo Business through Aviation. All RELEVANT Persons, Groups, Regulatory Agencies, Stakeholders had assembled under one roof, for one purpose! From FAAN to NCAA to AIB, NAMA, NIMET, NAICOM, FCCP to NEPC, NEPZA, NIPC, SON, NAFDAC, SAHCO, NAHCO to Airlines, Captains-of-Industry, CEOs etc., the lineup of representation was mind blowing. For a maiden edition? What does that say? So many lessons (life, business etc.) right there! From on and off the stage, I took more than my fair share of those lessons home. For those acronyms up there, you thought I’d spell them all out? Google is your friend . CHINET ‘21 has since been endorsed by many as the number one industry event in the last one year.

Without totally deviating from Aviation which dominated conversations the previous day, Cargo Business held sway on Day Two. Yet, all through, the common goal of identifying and discussing the issues plaguing Aviation and Cargo business, remained unchanged.

Captain John Okakpu, CEO of ABX World and Chairman, Nigeria Agro Setup Committee kicked off discussions with his presentation on “Matching Export to Markets”.

Representing the MD of FAAN, Captain Rabiu Yadudu in delivering the “Role of Airports In Driving Growth of Cargo Business” was the Director, Commercial and Business Development, Sadiku Rafindadi.

With a panel superbly moderated by the Managing Director, Mac Folly Hospitality Ltd and Vice President, SAHCO Plc, Chief Chike Ogeah, it was no surprise that when it came to dissecting the issues and demanding answers to questions from the Audience, Mr. Moderator took no prisoners . Impressively, his Panelists proved with every response and contribution, why they are some of the very best in their fields. The Industry heavyweights who made up Day Two panel were:

– The Managing Director, Flight & Logistics Solutions Ltd., Mr. Amos Akpan;
– Mr. Seyi Adewale of Mainstream Cargo;
– CEO, SAHCO Plc, Mr. Basil Agbarumi;
– CEO, Nigeria Aviation Handling Company, Mrs. Olatokunbo Adenike Fagbemi;
– Head of Trade Finance, Import, Export and Structured Trade at Sterling Bank, Mr. Chuks Aghaunor.
As was the case the day before, this panel delivered on its promise of being value-packed.

CELEBRATING EXCELLENCE…
Excellence was recognized and celebrated in the Aviation Top 100 Awards where individuals, Organizations, who had made significant contributions in the growth and development of the Aviation Industry were acknowledged. Alongside the beautiful, ever-supportive, Akwaaba First Lady, Mrs. Rita Uko, I enjoyed the honor of decorating the Awardees.

Among Special Guests who added color to the event were the National President of The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Mr. Nkereuwem Onung; CEO of Akwa-Ibom Airport, Uyo, Mr. Uwem Ekanem; and former Director of Finance, FAAN, Mr. Jerry Onifade.

Lunch was served. It was good.

With all the implementable solutions, suggestions, action points shared at CHINET 2021, I was glad that in the end, it provided for me, and other participants, good returns on the time and resources invested.

Typical of events organized by the Ambassador himself, there’s already a date, one year in advance, for the second CHINET Aviation and Cargo Conference. So, go ahead and save it against June 16 and 17, 2022.

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the resounding success of CHINET 1.0. Special thanks to Team Marriott (Dr. Afolabi, Chief Chike) and Lead Sponsor, Sterling Bank. Let’s do it again next year.

P.S. If you thought this was everything, wait till you experience in less than 2 weeks, the biggest travel expo in West Africa, speaking of the 17th Akwaaba Africa Travel Market, holding at the prestigious Eko Hotels and Suites on November 29 and 30, 2021.

Tourism Is Life .

Ebele Enemchukwu.
CEO, WABIO.

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