‘Why Africa’s air transport growth is sluggish’
To grow air transport in Africa, governments and players in the continent must tackle the deficiency of skilled manpower, the chairman of Nigerian Aviation Safety Initiative (NASI), Captain Dung Pam has said.
He said African countries, including Nigeria have the highest number of ‘unskilled ‘ aviation manpower among leading air transport blocs in the world.
The leading air transport blocs include China in Asia, United States and Canada in North America, United Arab Emirates in the Middle East and United Kingdom in Europe.
This challenge, Pam said has been occasioned by many years of failing to produce professionals in aeronautical fields, including pilots, aircraft engineers and flight dispatchers without work experience.
Work experience in aviation will enable them acquire the required flight hours to get rated in their respective fields for license acquisition.
In Nigeria for instance, many young pilots, aircraft engineers and flight dispatchers parade licenses from many parts of the world, but they have not had the opportunity to acquire enough flying hours to be employed by airlines, he said.
There are over 500 unemployed local young pilots with limited flying hours to be engaged by scheduled and private/ charter airlines.
Apart from pilots, many flight dispatchers, aircraft engineers and other professionals in aviation who possess academic qualifications do not have work experience.
Investigations reveal that regulatory agencies could provide a window for this army of professionals to acquire experience to get attracted to airlines.
Speaking via an online interview, Pam explained that one of the ways of addressing the myriads of challenges in the affected countries is the design of a deliberate policy that would define the respective strategies aimed at resolving the challenge.
Others, he said would include the design of specific timelines on how to tackle the identified gaps.
Pam explained that in the past nine years, Africa’s major obstacle has been the inability of the continent to meet its safety oversight functions due to lack of requisite competent manpower.
He said: “For the past nine years, a major obstacle in Africa is its inability to meet its safety oversight functions due to lack of requisite competent manpower.
“It is obvious that for the past few years, a lot of training has taken place within both the administration and professional cadre of aviation agencies in some countries including Nigeria; it is evident that Africa will find it challenging to produce the number of development professionals needed to sustain economic growth in the aviation sector.”
He explained that a conservative estimate from Boeing last year indicated that Africa needs to provide additional 715 pilots and 960 aircraft engineers every year for the next 20 years to be able to man its aviation sector planned capacity.
Pam said: “Nigeria’s’ population is 18 per cent of Africa’s hence we are expected to provide the appropriate 18 per cent of the manpower. This comes to precisely 128 additional pilots and 172 new engineers every year.
“Failing to meet this target means Africa will have to mitigate the shortfall by employing expatriates.
“These will eventually lead to the repatriation of both the acquired skills and revenue to the detriment of this continent.”