Africa’s air traffic still low – Minister

Minister of Transport, Dzifa Attivor

Minister of Transport, Dzifa Attivor

The Minister of Transport, Dzifa Attivor says Africa’s contribution of approximately three percent to global air traffic is woefully inadequate considering its size and population.

In line with this, she stressed the need for Africa to make realistic assessment of the state of aviation in the region and come out with practical solutions to solve the major challenges confronting the aviation industry.

Delivering a speech on behalf of President John Mahama at the plenary session of the 23rd African Civil Aviation Organization (AFACA) in Accra yesterday, Ms Attivor said the most serious problem in Africa is one of safety and security which frequently do not meet international standards.

“We have to preserve life by tightening the screws on operations and practices that constitute safety hazards. With the development of air traffic, there is an urgent need to detect and remedy these short comings.

“It is observed that the rate of air disasters in Africa is five times higher than the global rate, while the continent only accounts for an infinitesimal part of the traffic.”

She said that the fundamental causes do not only centre on the lack of financial and human resource, but affirmed political will.

“It is for this reason that Government has resolved to give Ghana’s aviation all the support it needs in order to ensure safety in our airspace”, she said.

Citing examples, she said the growth forecasts of Boeing for 2000-2019 were the average of 4.8 percent per annum for passenger air traffic and 6.4 percent per annum for freight.

Such growth, she said, may mean nothing if it is not accompanied by qualitative improvement in equipment and infrastructure.

“Despite progress made in aviation in the region, it is sad to say that it is easier to travel to Europe, with a foreign airline than with an African airline, adding that the absence of East-West connection in Africa and the seemingly cost of fares is a worrying factor that urgently needs to be addressed.”

She said in terms of international traffic for West and Central Africa region the dominant connection is towards Europe, with nearly 4.6 million passengers per year and a 12 percent average yearly growth.

Ghana, which has always been fully aware of the importance of aviation to the socio-economic development of African states and to this effect, maintains an office with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada to ensure that new developments in the aviation industry are quickly forwarded to Ghana for speedy implementation.

“In as much as we support ICAO and strive to meet its standards as members of the United Nations and African Union (AU), we are also obliged to support AFCAC which is a brainchild of the AU to determine ways in which to implement ICAO decisions in the best interest of Africa.

“It is therefore a major objective of Ghana to ensure that we abide by the collective decisions and initiatives which the leaders from the various African countries have put together to warrant a comprehensive development of the African continent.”

Meanwhile, Ms. Attivor commended the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) for its strict stance on safety and security issues in the aviation industry.

Air Commander KwameMamphey, Director-General of Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), said there is no doubt that liberalization has brought tremendous growth to the aviation industry in terms of improved service, better choices and competitive fares for the customers, wider route networks for the airlines and increase in aircraft movement and passenger traffic.

However consumers have a right to be concerned about their safety and security as we embrace liberalization, he said.

Commander Mamphey said Africa has relatively poor surface transport infrastructure.

He said, “With safety and security in mind, it is my hope that we would fashion out implementation strategies for issues to further develop our industry and better our lot as Africans.”