The Minister of State, Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, said on Monday that the West and Central African region was existing without any significant aviation business hub.
Sirika said this in Abuja at the 2016 Aviation Day Africa organised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) with the theme “Driving Economies Through The Power of Aviation’’.
The minister was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Mr Sabiu Zakari.
He further noted that the region had no strong carrier, major Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Centre (MRO), efficient airport and a significant catering company.
He said that Nigeria, situated on the mid-belt of Africa, served the West and Central African market with a population of over 600 million people.
According to him, the Nigerian economy, with a high rate of return on investment in excess of 30 per cent and its aviation sector, is full of opportunities.
He listed some of the opportunities to include the ongoing process of concessioning Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt airports, partnership to establish a National Carrier and the establishment of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Centre.
“Others are the establishment of Aviation Leasing Company (ALC), development of Agro-cargo Terminals and associated infrastructure and partnership to upgrade the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, among others’’
Sirika said that in spite of the many opportunities, there were numerous challenges that must be addressed, adding that the government had put in place measures to mitigate the impact of these challenges.
He described the power of aviation as a major tool in the great task of national development and economic rejuvenation, which the government was working assiduously to achieve.
“Foreign Exchange remittance is a temporary problem that is receiving full attention of government and will surely be a thing of the past.
“Arrangements have reached an advance stage to commence the production of Aviation Fuel (jet A1) in Nigeria, in order to bring down the cost and regularise supply.
“Government is in the process of establishing a major MRO through PPP, to allow for an A to D checks of most aircraft type.
“The MRO will have an engine, battery, wheels and brakes, upholstery and galley shops, among others.’’
The minister said the government was also partnering with the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), donor countries and agencies, to establish an aviation University in Abuja, to address the challenges of manpower.
He added that the concessioning of some assets would address the issue of dilapidated airport infrastructure, stating that the government would aggressively focus at improving the critical one.