Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has emphasized the need for greater inter-regional corporation in facilitating an open sky policy which would enhance intra- African Trade, give true meaning to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and reduce air travel cost on the continent.
The Vic-President wondered why a business person from Freetown, for example, should travel for nearly two days to go to Banjul (often through a third country) for a journey which a straight-line flight would have taken only one hour.
He said all efforts must be put in place to ensure that the Single African Air Transport Market -a project of the African Union to create a single market for air transport in Africa-becomes a reality by the year 2020.
Furthermore, the Vice-President called for information sharing and adherence to strict industry standards in combating emerging threats in the aviation sector on the continent.
“Let us cooperate to combat emerging security threats in the sub-region. Our safety and security can be guaranteed adequately through information sharing and adhering to regulatory standards in the industry.”
Dr Bawumia made the call at the opening of a 2-day International Air Transport Association (IATA) Regional Aviation Forum held in Accra under the theme, “Aviation: Business for Regional Prosperity.”
He noted that the Government of Ghana recognizes the significant impact of aviation activities on economic and social development and has thus made significant investments and showed commitments to maximize the benefits therein.
“For Ghana, we are coupling our domestic air travel development with an overall public infrastructure investment in roads and railways. With forecasted Gross Domestic Products (GDP) growth of between six and eight percent in the medium-term, we envisage increasing demand for transportation services,” he added.
Dr Bawumia emphasized that the importance of the aviation sector to trade, and business people who are seeking to expand markets as well as a great avenue for creating jobs, stimulating tourism and trade among many others.
He reiterated that Ghana shares a common interest in maximizing aviation benefits, which reaffirm Government’s commitment towards creating an enabling economic environment and political willingness to mainstream and reflect the priorities of the aviation sector in the global, regional and national agenda.
This, he said was much in line with the government’s vision to become both the financial and transport hub in the sub-region.
Policies such as the abolishing of the 17.5 percent value added tax on domestic air travel has seen an uplift of domestic air transport over the past 2 years.
Furthermore, there is progress in the construction of the Kumasi Airport Projects as part of government strategies to transform it into an international airport while financing arrangements have been completed for the construction of Tamale Airport Phase II.
Additionally, he said the country has seen a significant surge in domestic airline operators with new entrants making waves in domestic air transport operations.
He announced that arrangements are far advanced in engagements with a strategic partner to launch a national carrier.
This, he said is part of the Hub vision to ensure that Ghana’s aviation industry grows to become the centre to provide regional and intercontinental flights within the West African sub-region.
“Remarkably, the sector is creating a pool of aviation professionals to serve the region and beyond. We will continue to build capacity to produce the needed aviation professionals by enhancing aviation training. We will continue to make the Ghana Civil Aviation Training Academy (GATA) a Centre of Excellence to develop the needed technical capacity on the continent".
“We have shown commitment in this direction by investing over seven million dollars ($7million) to install three new navigational equipment to boost safety and security in Ghana’s air space. The equipment – a Very Small Aperture Terminal System (VSAT), Air Traffic Management System (ATMs) and Very High Frequency Radio Systems (VHFRs) is expected to further facilitate the GCAA’s Air Navigation Service provision and ensure safety to commensurate with the expansion in aviation infrastructure,” he said.
The Vice-President charged participants of the conference to provide pathways to addressing challenges in aviation sector and as well, map out well thought-out strategic solutions for the growth and development of the aviation industry on the continent.
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