Government has given ‘policy approval’ for the establishment of a new national airline to drive the country’s bid to be the air transport hub in the West Africa sub-region, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.
“Government has given a policy approval for the establishment of a home-based carrier with private sector participation as part of efforts to fulfil our aviation hub vision, and also to enhance connectivity,” the President said at the official opening of the three-day maiden African Air Show on-going at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra.
Proposals to establish a new national airline follow the demise of Ghana Airways over a decade ago, and its successor, Ghana International Airlines, few years later.
Given the average growth rate of 7 percent in the aviation sector over the past half-decade, government is seeking to establish a new flag-carrier on a public-private basis to tap into the current growth.
Various aircraft manufacturers and prominent airlines have all expressed interest in partnering Ghana in this endeavour.
West Africa, with an estimated 350 million people – of whom most are under 35, holds enormous potential for the aviation sector that can be harnessed by Ghana with the establishment of a home-based carrier.
President Akufo-Addo further called on African leaders to fully implement the Yamoussoukro Declaration and liberalise their air spaces if the continent is to fully realise the benefits of air transport.
Africa is home to 12% of the world’s people, but it accounts for less than 1% of the global air service market.
Part of the reason for Africa’s under-served status, according to a World Bank study, Open Skies for Africa – Implementing the Yamoussoukro Decision, is that many African countries restrict their air services markets to protect the share held by state-owned air carriers.
The President therefore called on African leaders to commit to “full implementation of Yamoussoukro decision”.
In the Yamoussoukro Declaration of 1988, many African countries agreed to principles of air services liberalisation. In 2000, the Decision was endorsed by heads of state and governments at the Organisation of African Unity and became fully binding in 2002. However, over the past decades implementation has fallen short.
Charles Schlumberger, Lead Air Transport Specialist at the World Bank and author of Open Skies for Africa, report noted that: “Ten countries have not signed on to or completed proper ratification of this decision, and many others that are signatories have not implemented it. Meantime, most countries in Africa that have abandoned their ailing carriers and opened up to foreign operators now have air services, both passenger and freight, that are more efficient, safer, and with more competitive prices”.
Growth of aviation industry
The average growth of the aviation industry has increased from its initial 6.5% to 7.5%, which translates to US$75billion in growth over the last two years.
Africa’s aviation market as a whole is growing at 6%, but Ghana’s growth rate stands at 7.1 % per annum.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the African Air show, President Akufo-Addo stated that the significant growth in the industry is set to create more jobs for the youth and attract more investors.
“The global figures of the air industry revealed that the industry provides 62.7 million jobs — 9.9 million direct jobs, 11.2 million indirect jobs, 5.2 million induced jobs and 32.2 million tourism-related jobs,” he said.
He explained further that the industry contributed a large chunk to the nation’s GDP: “The industry contributes 72.5 billion dollars to GDP, it is significant to note that while the growth rate in the aviation industry is 5 percent, Africa is growing at 6 percent and Ghana is at 7.9 percent per annum,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo also added that government intends to create conditions for the private sector to invest heavily in aviation over the next three years.
“The aim is to make the industry very competitive with our up-coming concepts for the sector which we believe will lead to enhanced trade relations,” he added.