The Federal Government will soon commence the production of aviation fuel, known as “jet A1”, in Nigeria for the purpose of binging down the cost and regularizing its supply.
Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, recently made this known, while declaring open the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Aviation Day in Abuja.
He called on both local and foreign investors to put their resource in the setting up of a refining facility for local consumption and export.
Sirika decried the high cost of aircraft maintenance, while revealing that the Federal Government was in the process of establishing a major Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Centre ( MRO) through public-private-partnership (PPP) in order to allow for an A to D checks of most aircraft type.
The minister said the MRO would have an engine, battery, upholstery and galley shops, wheels and brakes among others.
According to the minister, while concession of some assets would address the problem of dilapidated airport infrastructure across the country, government would also aggressively focus on improving the critical infrastructures.
“The theme of this forum, Driving Economies through the Power of Aviation is quite apt as it is relevant to where we are as a nation today; I believe it is of immense significance, not just to Nigeria, but to the entire African continent. Aviation connects people, businesses and ideas across borders in a way no other industry can; it shortens distances and bridges cultures and is at the core of every socio-economic endeavor.
Therefore, it is with great confidence that I state that the ‘Power of Aviation’ is a major tool in the great task of national development and economic rejuvenation, which this administration has set for itself and is working assiduously to achieve.
“As you know, Nigeria is strategically located in the Gulf of Guinea with a population of 173million people and accounts for 47 per cent of West African Population. However, I must emphasize that Nigeria as a Nation, sitting graciously on the mid-belt of Africa, serves the West and Central African Market.
“This belt, with a population of 600 million people, is with a total absence of any significant aviation businesses. There is no strong Carrier, no major Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Centre (MRO), no efficient airport, in fact not even a significant catering company.
“However, as bad as this may sound, it will surely gladden the heart of an investor. So therefore, Nigerian aviation is as virgin as you would love it. The Nigerian economy has high rate of return on investment in excess of 30%. Its Aviation Sector is full of opportunities,” he said.
Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association has called on African governments to prioritize the development of aviation nationally and at a pan-Africa level to bolster economic growth and development.
IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, Hussein Dabbas, said as Africa is set to be one of the fastest-growing aviation regions over the next 20 years, with annual expansion averaging nearly 5 per cent, this opens up incredible economic opportunities for the continent’s 54 nations.
“By transporting some 70 million passengers annually, aviation already supports some 6.9 million jobs and $80 billion of economic activity on the African continent.
Aviation has the potential to be a much greater strategic catalyst for growth if governments would stop milking the industry for taxes and enable it with smarter regulations focused on safety and the development of connectivity.
The commitments are already there with the Abuja Declaration and the Yamoussoukro Decision. It’s time to achieve them in partnership with industry,” he said.