Akinwunmi seeks implementation of Yamoussoukro open skies agreement
President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina, yesterday urged African countries to implement the 1999 Yamoussoukro agreement for open skies.
He made the call at the opening ceremony of the third ICAO World Aviation Forum in Abuja, saying while 20 countries have signed on to the agreement, the 27-year old accord still faces implementation challenges.
He added that rigid bilateral air service agreements have made it difficult to liberalise the regional aviation markets.
“We must make regional aviation markets competitive and drive down costs, raise efficiencies and improve connectivity and convenience. The hosting of this global forum here in Abuja is a clear mark of confidence in Nigeria,” he said.
Akinwunmi commended the Federal Government for the economic recovery and growth programme, as well as its efforts to improve the aviation industry.
While stressing the need to build a more resilient economy, he reiterated AfDB’s strong support for Nigeria and expressed confidence in the country’s ability to deliver on its policy commitments.
“As you know, we provided $600 million for the government to address its budget deficit challenges and stand ready to continue to fully support the government as it embarks on efforts to diversify the economy and raise the revenue profiles and productivity of the non-oil sectors,” Adesina added.
He noted that the aviation sector plays an important role in opening doors to investors, stressing that air transport promotes trade, investments and tourism and boosts economic growth.
“Today, Africa’s aviation industry adds $73 billion to the continent’s annual GDP and employs about seven million people – an average 130,000 people per country in Africa. The aviation industry is projected to grow by five percent annually for the next 20 years. From serving 120 million passengers in 2015, the industry will triple and serve over 300 million passengers by 2035.
“Regrettably, Africa’s aviation growth is held back by very restrictive regulatory environments, which limit market size, profitability, and drive up costs. Aircraft departure fees alone in Africa are 30 per cent above the global average, while taxes, fees and charges are eight per cent higher.
Given lower per capita incomes in Africa, high fares essentially tax the poor out of air travel. We may have an open sky policy, but then end up with empty skies,” he stated.
Adesina, therefore, sought the development of airport terminal capacity to expand passenger growth, develop regional aviation hubs to improve connectivity and upgrade air navigational services and air traffic control to improve safety.
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