An additional $50 billion investment is required in Nigeria’s aviation sector to fully unlock its inherent potential for national growth, a group of experts said on Tuesday.
The experts drawn from airline operators, regulatory officers, airport administrators, service providers and analysts, aired their views at the Colloquium 2017 organised by Nigeria Travels Mart (NTM) in Lagos. They suggested that the $50 billion should cover investments that would boost the infrastructure across the nation’s airports, establish a vibrant national or flag carrier with the right aircraft fleet to fly to all the continents of the world, and train the requisite manpower for both operators and regulators.
Chief Executive Officer of RTC Advisory Services Limited, Mr Opeyemi Agbaja, who presented a paper entitled: “Raising Capital to Finance a Vision 2050 Plan” at the event had suggested that with his wealth of experience, the injection of $50 billion into the aviation sector would be the magic wand that would effectively harness the potentials in the sector. It was the view shared by other participants who said attracting such level of FDI inflows into Nigeria’s aviation would however require a stable macroeconomic environment, forward-looking and proactive policy. A clear and compelling vision for the industry shared by all stakeholders including government and the private sector and regulation that seeks to foster industry transformation and not just to collect revenues.
The investment should also span between 2017 and 2050 for maximum benefits to be realised.
Already, Agbaje in his presentation had disclosed that in 2016, the total amount of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that came to Africa’s aviation sector was $59.373 in 2016, while he put the total FDI into Nigeria aviation at $4.447 billion in the same year.
Chairman of Aso Savings and Loans PLC, Mr. Ali Magashi and analyst, Mr. Chris Aligbe who spoke at the event said it had become necessary to source for funds to float a national and flag carrier given the huge losses in capital flight to the economy.
Aligbe suggested the establishment of a “hybrid flag carrier” that the public and private sector would own equities, citing undue interferences as the bane of the defunct Nigeria Airways which must not be permitted in a new carrier. “We need to make investments in the industry, especially with a flag carrier. But government should only be allowed a certain equity, while the private sector should have the larger share and also allowed to manage it,” Aligbe said.
Magashi on his part said he would welcome the idea of just one single airline in Nigeria as against setting up many flag carriers. He, however, demanded more investments in the right technology at the airports and the hiring and training of competent manpower to manage the facilities.
Also speaking, former Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren said that despite the challenges the Nigerian aviation is facing the future for the sector is bright.
He expressed the optimism that with investments in the right infrastructure that Nigeria will be the epic centre for African aviation in 2050.
According to him,”Nigeria has a large population of youths who are very knowledgeable in Information Communication Technology (ICT), this one area government should invest in.
“Nigeria, is also a natural hub for aviation because of its population; it has a very attractive market,” he added.