- Aviation sector in Nigeria is a gold mine with a lot of latent potentials-Minister
The Managing Director/Chief Executive, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu has revealed that the country lost $2.5 billion (about N1.25 trillion) in Maintenance Repair and Operation Facilities (MRO) investments to neighbouring countries as at 2021.
Yadudu, who made the disclosure at the maiden edition of the National Aviation Conference in Abuja, hinted that having such investments in Nigeria could have created more employment opportunities for Nigerians, increased revenue generation as well as the training of technical personnel for maintenance of aircraft.
In his welcome address, the FAAN boss stated that the conference with the theme: “Advancing the Frontiers of Possibilities for Safe, Secure and Profitable Air Transport,” is a gathering of industry stakeholders assembled to discuss the past, present and the future challenges and opportunities in the Nigerian aviation industry.
He posited that the theme of the conference was carefully chosen to proffer solutions to major industry challenges as well as chart the way forward for a national air transport industry that would be effective, efficient and profitable, as well as being a major catalyst to national economic growth and development.
According to him, the interlink and value chain between the air transport, tourism and hospitality industry for economic growth cannot be over emphasised.
Yadudu, said “As you are all aware, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the global socio-economic space negatively, and also slowed down global travels, thus affecting aeronautical operations and revenue generation.
“As we commence the process of rebounding, it is imperative to come together to identify and analyse the positives from these challenges, with a view to consolidating on them and fostering sustainable development in our industry.
“This is the motive for inviting all stakeholders – airlines, handling companies, aviation agencies, concessionaires, security agencies, etc to discuss issues, share ideas, and proffer solutions to the myriad of challenges facing our industry.”
He disclosed that the industry had assembled a crop of seasoned faculty who had distinguished themselves globally in various fields of aviation, from regulation, operation, financing, among other critical areas, to bring the issues to the fore and also proffer lasting solutions.
He lamented that our potentials and capacity in the global air transport industry is grossly underutilized, stressing that if we are desirous of attaining the status of a major player in the global aviation sphere, this is the time to reposition and move the industry forward.
The focus, he said, is on Nigeria because we have the largest fleet of aircraft within the subregion.
Yadudu added that “As at 2021, it was reported that Nigeria lost $2.5 billion (about N1.25 trillion) in MRO investments to neighbouring countries.
“Today, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, London bridge, Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, the British museum in United Kingdom, etc. have all been consciously developed into major tourist attractions that drive passenger traffic to those destinations and by implication attract businesses and generate employments for the locals and foreigners alike.”
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, while declaring the conference open, stated that despite the huge challenges affecting the industry, it remained the third fastest growing sector of the Nigeria economy.
Sirika revealed that there is 34 per cent returns on investment as the four major airports have been earmarked as free trade zones for investment.
The Minister of Aviation stated further that foreign investors could own 100 per cent share of any investments at the airport.
In his words: “the aviation sector in Nigeria is a gold mine, with a lot of latent potentials waiting to be explored. Our vantage position in terms of regional positioning, population and natural resources has positioned us strategically as a continental leader.
“While we continue to emphasise safety and security, we must operate profitably, so as to be able to achieve efficiency and sustainability. Therefore, we must continue to discuss issues that bother on these variables, pull resources together to take advantage of these opportunities.
“On the part of the government, our doors are open and we are always willing to discuss business and partner with investors to bring the desired growth and development to the industry”, he added.