The President, African Development Bank Group (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina, says the bank will support the Nigerian Government’s efforts to revitalise the aviation sector.
Adesina made the pledge at the ongoing Third International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) World Aviation Forum (IWAF3) on Tuesday in Abuja.
AfDB president said that if the nation’s aviation sector improved, Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business would improve further, urging the government to build on its already remarkable achievements on the initiative.
According to him, AfDB strongly supports Nigeria and has confidence in the ability of the country to deliver on its policy commitments.
“As you know, we provided 600 million dollars to support the government to address its Budget deficit challenges.
“That is why ease of access via air travel is strongly correlated to economic growth and air transport promotes trade, investments and tourism, and boosts economic growth,’’ he said.
Adesina disclosed that Africa’s aviation industry had contributed 73 billion dollars to the continent’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employed about seven million people, an average 130,000 people per country in Africa.
He explained that with rapidly increasing population, urbanisation and income growth for the middle class, the aviation industry had been projected to grow by five per cent annually for the next 20 years.
According to him, the industry has grown from serving 120 million passengers in 2015 and will triple and serve more than 300 million passengers by 2035.
AfDB boss said the cost of air travel in Africa remained exorbitantly high, adding that it was 200 per cent more than costs in the European Union and 250 per cent higher than in India for similar distances.
According to him, it costs 128 dollars to fly between London and Rome, but 597 dollars to fly between Abidjan and Niamey, a shorter distance and just to go from Johannesburg in South Africa, to next door neighbour Lilongwe in Malawi, the cost is 406 dollars.
“Again it also costs more to travel a much shorter distance than from London to Rome. If you require another example of this serious imbalance, consider for a moment that taxes paid for a Lagos to Kinshasa.
“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 the air! We may have an open sky policy, but then end up with empty skies,” he said.