By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has lifted the ban it placed on Emirates Airlines from flying into Nigeria without conditions.
This was disclosed over the weekend by the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, in Abuja in a statement signed by Mr James Odaudu, the Director of Public Affairs in the Ministry of Aviation.
Business Post had reported that the federal government barred Emirates from flying into Nigeria over discriminatory policies on Nigerians as regards COVID-19 protocols by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
According to Mr Sirika, the move came in response to the yearnings of Nigerian travellers and after painstaking negotiations with the UAE, the Emirates Airlines home country.
The Minister further said that the UAE had also removed all travel restrictions on Nigerians.
“We have received communication from UAE removing some of the conditions of travel of which we had concerns about. Having done so, we feel we should lift the ban on the suspension of Emirates Airlines.
“All the impediments on Emirates have been lifted and that the airline can now operate in Nigeria,” he said.
Mr Sirika lauded the understanding of Nigerians in spite of the hardships experienced as a result of the spat between the two countries.
Also speaking, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyema, noted that Nigeria recognised that UAE had a responsibility to protect the lives of its citizens.
He added that whatever measures the UAE had taken was for the best interest of her citizens.
He said that the negotiation that led to the renewed relationship was a balanced one and was a win-win for both countries.
Mr Onyema, who reiterated that though Nigeria had always had an excellent relationship with UAE, added that the negotiations had made the relationship even stronger.
On his part, the National Incidence Manager of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Mr Muktar Mohammed, commended the leadership provided by members of the Committee in ensuring resolution of the impasse.
Mr Mohammed also disclosed that the committee was watching closely the developments within the Southern African regions with regards to the discovery of a new variant of the virus.
He added that necessary measures to prevent its entrance into Nigeria would be done.
Ebonyi Airport Will Attract Local, Foreign Investments—Sirika
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, has said the proposed airport in Ebonyi State will attract local and foreign investments to the south-east state.
The Minister said this when he received Governor Dave Umahi in his office in Abuja on Thursday to discuss the airport project.
He commended his guest for the foresight, describing the Ebonyi airport project as worthwhile.
According to him, the decision to build the airport is courageous as it will expose the state’s agricultural potential to the international market.
He told Governor Umahi that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has, since its inception, embarked on creating an enabling environment for the expansion of the aviation industry in Nigeria which has been severally acknowledged by the global aviation community.
The Minister also gave the assurance that the Ministry of Aviation will do whatever is required to bring the project to fruition, considering the prospects for employment generation.
Earlier, Governor Umahi had briefed the Minister on the progress of the airport project and said he remained committed to its successful completion, considering the expected benefits to the people of the state.
He expressed the appreciation of the state to the federal government, especially the Aviation Minister, for the encouragement and support in seeing the project to its present stage, assuring him that the airport, when completed, will meet all industry requirements.
Sustaining Nigeria’s Transport Sector Using Technology
An efficient transportation sector facilitates exchanges that result in the improvements of lives and economies globally. Every day, transport stakeholders develop new ways that support the sustainability of this sector. This stems from the knowledge that the movement of humans, goods and services remains a fundamental part of a country’s economy, and extensively, global economic growth.
In the third-quarter economic performance report for 2021 released by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the growth in the non-oil sector cannot be overlooked, with the transportation sector also making significant leaps in the quarter, making it one of the fastest-growing sectors in Nigeria in Q3 2021.
The modes of transportation that made these impressive contributions to the economy were rail transport and pipeline (59.93 per cent), air transport (33.31 per cent), road transport (21.11 per cent), and water transport (16.30 per cent). For a country with over 200 million people, the need for a robust means of transportation cannot be overemphasized.
And this guides the federal government’s decision to put initiatives in place to close the gap in the transportation sector through a multi-modal transport system. Although these initiatives are yet to be unveiled, the Lagos State Government has embarked on its own ambitious multi-modal transport system in a bid to upgrade the state to smart city status.
According to the state government, there is fund available to complete the various projects, including the creation of rail lines for intracity trips and other works that will put the proper infrastructure in place for an efficient transport system in the state. To further drive this conversation on the importance of building a sustainable transport system in the metropolis, the Lagos Transport Fest, held on December 13, 2021, drawing stakeholders from both the public and private sector to discuss the way forward in improving Nigeria’s transport system.
The event focused on every aspect of transportation including road, rail, logistics, and ports, noting the importance of a cross-sector partnership to develop the transport sector. In the outline of the event’s agenda, one element made a repeated appearance: technology.
This highlights the fact that technology can bring about changes in the operations of businesses within the rail, maritime, aviation, and road modes of transportation. Technology has continued to prove itself a force to reckon with, evident in the unprecedented changes it has produced across sectors, and the transport sector in Nigeria is not any different.
These perceived and observed changes have led to a steady rise in its utilization, as digitization of processes in various economic quarters has become not just widely accepted but even encouraged. Speaking along these lines was one of the event’s sponsors, Interswitch, Africa’s leading digital payment company, who noted the effect of innovation on the country’s transport sector would increase accessibility to safe payment methods and the attendant ease for commuters.
The need for digitization in the transportation business became notable during the heat of the pandemic, as innovators devised new ways to conduct their businesses without the need for physical contact between individuals. This was especially observed in the logistics sector which saw more companies adopting technological solutions while minimizing physical contact.
In developed countries, other solutions such as robotics, drones, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) swiftly became a replacement for humans to reduce human contact and by extension, the spread of the virus.
Transportation and the AfCFTA
It would almost be remiss if there was no mention of Intra-African trade through the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which is expected to facilitate stronger trading relations between countries on the African continent. With this in view, experts have highlighted the deficits in the transportation sector that could hinder Nigeria – Africa’s current leading economy – from accessing its full potential, relegating it behind other smaller African nations with better systems in place.
However, giving reassurances of the country’s readiness to participate in this monumental intra-continental trade, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said, at a 2-day conference, that the federal government had taken seriously the business of transportation.
He noted that “The transportation sector is the most critical in implementing trade facilitation, enhancing regional integration is key to every other AfCFTA protocol. Hence, the Nigerian government has embarked on huge transport infrastructure investment across the country to ensure efficiency in the transportation sector.”
He also highlighted the importance of digitization in the sector as one of the major elements that require a sturdy infrastructure for successful intra-continental trading. The minister noted that his ministry was dedicated to improving digital services in the transport system through the automation of services.
In the same vein, analysts are projecting a boost in free trade in Africa through digitization. With about 36 countries ratified onto the AfCFTA, it is estimated that over 1 billion consumers on the African continent, with a growing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $3.4 trillion will be integrated.
However, the ever-fluctuating, dollar-reliant exchange rate system on the continent remains a challenge to trade within the continent. To address this, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), developed the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) to facilitate cross-border payment between traders in Africa, which would involve participating central banks.
Interswitch, through some of its brands, has continued to enhance cross border payments – Quickteller, a borderless digital payment solution service and Verve card, a payment card issued in 8 African countries with acceptance in over 22 countries on the continent. These services and products are aiding payment between African traders, removing transaction barriers.
To take full advantage of this untapped market, countries would need to develop better transport infrastructure and systems and fortify payment systems to lessen the stress that comes with it, which will help to properly connect markets across the continent and achieve the overarching goal of a prosperous continent.
Enormous opportunities abound in the transport sector, but to tap into these there is the need for a concerted effort from stakeholders in both the public and private sectors to ensure that consumers have seamless experiences while moving goods, services, people and payments across borders.
New High-Speed Trains to Boost Lagos Urban Transportation
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Lagos State government has said the two newly acquired high-speed trains for its Red Line rail project will improve the state’s goal of achieving urban transportation as it will improve traffic management and transportation.
This was as Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu completed the acquisition deal of the two sets of 10 cars Talgo 330 kilometre per hour trains on Tuesday at an event held inside the Milwaukee facilities of Spanish train manufacturer, Talgo Incorporated, in the United States.
Mr Gboyega Akosile, who is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in a disclosure revealed that the trains will be heading to Lagos for the Red Line – a 37km track rail project which will have 11 stations and will be the first operational metro system in West Africa when completed.
“A train is not something you can just go on the shelf and pick up,” the Governor was quoted as saying at the event.
“We are very lucky to get brand new trains. We have seen our beautiful white and red trains. Coincidentally, the rail line is called Red Line and you can see they have given us the colour. We are just going to brand it and put up our seal there.
“We hope that this (purchase of the trains) will be the beginning of a mutually beneficial business relationship. Providing a source of livelihood for our citizens is all about providing jobs for our people and that is what we are doing. It is about ensuring that we can build our economy; people can move from one location to another, and businesses can grow.
“Part of what we have done in the last two and half years is to have what we call Integrated Urban Mass transportation system, where we will be using road infrastructure, waterway infrastructure, and rail infrastructure so that we can move over 20 million Lagosians within and around the city,” he added.
Governor Sanwo-Olu gave an assurance that the first phase of the Red Line would begin by the last quarter of 2022 or the first quarter of 2023, with a capacity of 500,000 passengers daily.
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