Before the end of 2022, Nigeria will have a national carrier, according to the minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika. Sirika made this statement during a two-day investment event for the Africa Public Private Partnership Network (AP3N) that took place in Abuja on Tuesday. The programme was organised by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission with the theme, “Financing Africa’s Infrastructure through Public Private Partnership (PPP).”
Nigeria Air, which was announced at the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom in July 2018, is the country’s proposed national carrier, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). The Minister declared that the Air Transport License had been issued through Mr. Akin Olateru, the Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
“We have a team in place, the Air Transport License has been issued by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, and we are in the process of processing the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) which will lead to the start of the airline. When you are setting up an airline, there are five phases for the AOC process.
“You need to bring in airplanes when you are in phase three. So in phases one and two, you do not need to bring an airplane but you need to have identified them. But because people do not understand the process in aviation, they see it as another business. But aviation has its peculiarities and strict guidelines in everything we do.
The panellist who discussed the topic ‘Transforming the Aviation Sector through Private Sector Participation’ underscored the need for funding from private investment in the sector to ensure efficiency. The managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, stated that funding was essential for the aviation industry to operate at its best.
He affirms that money is the sector’s lifeblood; “no matter how skilled you are technically, the industry cannot run without money. Equipment and facilities need to be replaced and maintained as at when due. If stakeholders do not have confidence in the sector, then we cannot function, and our workers will not work if they do not feel safe using the equipment.
”If you get the stakeholders’ confidence, you would get the right participation. PPP is the way to go, not only in aviation but in all sectors,” he said.
An aviation development bank should be established, according to Mr. Isaac Balami, an aviator and the CEO of 7Star Global Hanger. Considering the importance of the aviation sector to the Nigerian economy and the continent of Africa, he said that when it comes to strategy, we must look within, have confidence in who we are, and take into account local content.
The infrastructure of any nation is its bedrock, according to Mr. Lai Are, the managing director of Catamaran Nigeria Ltd. He added that Nigeria needed to close its infrastructure gap. “It is said that without aviation, the nation would be unable to draw in the necessary funding for the transportation industry. We are a country in need of investment, and most of this money cannot come from within but we need to look inward to see how we can present ourselves to the outside world.
“We need to see how we can look attractive to the outside world and attract investment for infrastructure development.” He also said there must be the sanctity of agreements, saying that the government must honour agreements so that investors get returns on their investments at the agreed time. “Yes, the private sector will come but they must ride on the back of the foundation the government has built,” he said.
According to Mr. Suileman Ibrahim of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the government must view private investors as partners by establishing laws that facilitate investment.
Ibrahim also argued that the aviation business should have its own finances set aside just for it; such as a bank devoted to the industry or an aviation bank. “Having the right policies which include tax incentives and waivers, providing guarantees, supporting the environment and repatriation of foreign exchange are critical to investment in this space.”