The President of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has made an appeal to President Akufo-Addo to lead the efforts within West Africa to develop the aviation industry.
Dr Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu said the time has come for West Africa, and, indeed, Africa to contribute effectively to, and take its pride of place in the global transport system.
“We want to see the whole West Africa region become a domestic market, where there is active movement of people. Everywhere, air transport has become very cheap and it can be so in Africa if we have the right structure,” he said.
He made this known on Wednesday, when he paid a courtesy call on the President at the Presidency, on the sidelines of the 2nd ICAO meeting on Sustainable Development of Air Transport in Africa, being held in Accra.
The ICAO President lauded President Akufo-Addo for the leadership skills he is providing for the aviation sector and commended Ghana for the significant role it continues to play as a member of the ICAO.
He explained to the President that the ICAO has established a ‘No Country Left Behind’ initiative to reward countries like Ghana, who have shown commitment towards political stability.
“We have established the ‘No Country Left Behind’ initiative primarily to assist developing states, particularly those that demonstrate political commitment to enhance civil aviation development.
“Ghana has demonstrated that political commitment, and that is why we continue to work with Ghana, in terms of capacity building, training in the area of safety, security, and infrastructure development, in order to assist you (Ghana) become the regional leader that you are and that you should continue to be”, he said.
With the aviation industry expected to grow and double in size in the next 15 years, the President of ICAO is of the firm conviction that Ghana stands a greater chance of benefiting heavily from the massive investments it has made in the aviation sector.
Dr. Aliu congratulated President Nana Akufo-Addo for appointing Cecilia Dapaah as Minister of Aviation whom he described as “a very indefatigable goal-getter”, who is doing a great job for Ghana.
President Nana Akufo-Addo expressed gratitude to ICAO for choosing Ghana as the host country for their conference.
He noted that “on both the regional and continental scale, one of the biggest obstacles we have, to boosting our own intra or internal trade, is the absence of a good connection and a good infrastructure that connects our various countries.
“So it is a clear, obvious advantage we would gain if the African airspace was fully connected”.
He stressed the important role of the aviation industry to the development of countries, evidenced in ‘the making of Dubai’.
“All of us have seen what Dubai has done. Essentially, the story of the country is that of an airport and an aviation connection, out of which has sprung a whole lot of things. It has now made Dubai one of the dominant economic sectors of the world,” he said.
Ghana, the President observed, would be building similar infrastructure to match up with countries that have done better in the aviation industry.
”We are modest, but hopefully we can also put in an infrastructure that would allow us to get there. To provide this focus, I had the privilege, as President, to appoint a Minister who is a very experienced, hardworking, dynamic woman to provide that focal leadership. And everything that I am hearing so far is that my judgment was not wrong”, he said.