By Dipo Olowookere
President of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Mr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, has warned that many African hub airports, due to the more recent and effective focus on air transport liberalization, are now expected to exceed their capacity by 2020.
Mr Aliu gave this warning at the Airports Council International’s (ACI’s) 2018 Africa Regional Conference held in Lagos recently.
According to the ICAO Council President, the continent’s rapidly-expanding air traffic can only be sustained and optimized through the continued development and modernization of local aviation infrastructure, particularly at airports.
“The industry here generates very positive impacts on tourism and trade, directly and indirectly supporting 6.8 million jobs and generating 72.5 billion dollars in Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” President Aliu said. “But due to the more recent and effective focus on air transport liberalization, many African hub airports are now expected to exceed their capacity by 2020.”
The ACI Conference was declared open by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation of Nigeria, Mr Boss Gida Mustapha, in the presence of over 280 participants from 47 Countries and numerous international organizations. Also present were CEOs from the aviation industry (airports, airlines, air navigation service providers, manufacturers, etc.) and members of the Nigerian Senate and House of Representatives and other senior government officials.
In delivering his keynote address at the opening of the Conference, the ICAO Council President also noted that airport modernization and capacity “is a key reason why ICAO’s Global Plans are designed to establish globally-harmonized aviation objectives and requirements in support of the worldwide modernization which is now underway.” He stressed that ICAO’s goal in this respect “is to ensure there are no constraints of infrastructure capacity, technology and financial resources for aviation development,” and noted that ICAO’s World Aviation Forum events are specifically designed to address these concerns and bring project planners and financers together.
Another key development priority stressed by President Aliu was that related enhancements in human capacity development, through improved education and training, should be seen as “directly supportive of the sustainability of any new infrastructure project or new capacity being considered.”
From a more operational standpoint, he drew attention to the fact that airport facilities are much more than just impressive new terminal buildings, and that ICAO remains concerned that many African airports are seeking to attract international flights without the requisite certifications.
“More attention must continue to be paid to the airside safety priorities at Africa’s airports,” he said, “including international airport perimeter fencing, taxiway and runway safety, effective fire services, and better wildlife management,” he remarked.
The President concluded by focusing upon the important aviation security role of airports today, and the many new innovations which are helping them to operate with less noise and emissions than in the past.
During his mission in Lagos, President Aliu met with Nigeria’s Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, to discuss the State’s progress on the development of aviation infrastructure and related partnerships subsequent to ICAO’s World Aviation Forum event which was conducted in Abuja, Nigeria, last November.
Minister Sirika briefed President Aliu on recent investments made in upgrading the Nigerian aviation training school in Zaria, an ICAO-endorsed Regional Training Centre of Excellence, and the need and means to promote the facility to greater regional benefit was also discussed.
He also spoke to CEOs of local aviation agencies regarding safety, security, passenger facilitation, and environmental performance priorities, and in discussions with ACI’s Director General, Ms Angela Gittens, he applauded her organization’s successful APEX-in-Security programme while noting further collaborative opportunities for the two Organizations. He also expressed his deep appreciation to DG Gittens for ACI’s determined support to-date of ICAO’s ‘No Country Left Behind’ assistance and capacity-building priorities.
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