As the 15th AKWAABA African Travel and Tourism Market ended on Tuesday in Lagos, aviation industry experts have urged African governments to ensure effective implement of policies that would improve the contribution of the sector to the continent’s economy.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that they spoke at a seminar with theme: “Impact of Airport Development and Airlines on Tourism Growth”.
Mr Aaron Munetsi, Chief Executive Officer, Africa Aviation Services Ltd., said that policies, processes and procedures guided by discipline were needed to drive the business of aviation in Africa.
Muntesi noted that Africa had about 500 airports with less than 19 per cent currently being underutilised, adding that there was need to increase connectivity within the continent.
He decried the problem of multiple taxation in the aviation industry across African countries which had continued to hinder the growth of the sector.
Munetsi urged African governments to explore other aspects of the economy in order to get revenue and stop imposing unnecessary charges on the airlines.
“The rate at which airlines are taxed is alarming. Sometimes airlines are charged just for writing their names on the boarding pass.
“Charging Africans to pay for visas is an act of poverty. African governments must look for other means of making money but not through multiple taxation,” he said.
Munetsi noted that the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) was adopted by the African Union (AU) to achieve the objective of liberalising air transportation among Africans.
“African airlines should be allowed to operate anywhere within Africa as this will create a healthy bond and unity among Africans.
“The weather of the various African countries is an advantage for Africans to properly groom the aviation industry to the western world admiration.
“The African free trade zone can only be successful if the African airports and airlines are positioned to be efficient in terms of service delivery.
“The role of the governments is to create an enabling environment through access to capital for airlines and development of airport infrastructure.
“An aviation sector that is privately driven and modeled after the best practices is key to growing the African economy,” he said.
Also, Mr Chris Aligbe, Chief Executive Officer, Belujane Consult, said that concession of airports was a good decision to ensure that Nigeria develops a viable aviation industry.
Aligbe said that Nigerian airports would operate better under a concessionaires due to the Federal Government’s inability to finance modern airport infrastructure.
He urged Nigerians to capitalise on their hospitable and accommodating virtues to groom the nation’s tourism industry.
Aligbe said that even as the fair was ongoing, foreigners had attested to the fact that Nigerians were accommodating and hospitable and this should be leveraged on.
According to him, the nation’s tourism industry can be the best in Africa if the needed infrastructure are put in place.
By TAIYE BAIYEROHI