Experts seek path to tackle $30b aviation infrastructure deficit

 Experts in the aviation industry are of the view that a lot needed to be done to close the gap on the aviation infrastructure deficit in the country. They are of the view that to achieve the feat, there must be a commitment to funding infrastructure.

 It is estimated that Nigeria needs a whopping $30b to tackle and replace decrepit airport infrastructure at many of the country’s airports especially the four big airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt, and Kano, obsolete navigational and security equipment.

 Failure to address the infrastructural deficit had continued to prevent the country from maximising the potentialities accruing from the aviation industry.

 They said there was a need for both Federal and State governments to have a commitment to aviation infrastructure development.

Founder and President of IPADIS, Dr. Bernard Olumuyiwa Aliu

Aside from that, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that due to the fast-growing passenger traffic projected to rise to 7.8 billion in 2036, there is a need to urgently address infrastructure challenges in order to secure the industry’s future.

 Former President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Dr. Bernard Olumuyiwa Aliu disclosed that infrastructure in the sector needed to be given priority in the scheme of things and must be a part of national development policy.

 Aliu who is also the founder and President of International Partners for Aviation Development, Innovation, and Sustainability (iPADIS), said a lack of Corporate Governance and best management practice, vibrant liberalized market, socio-economic stability, as well as institutional, legal, and regulatory monitoring are some factors that militate against investments in the aviation industry that can lead to infrastructural growth.

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 He gave his submissions virtually while participating at the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ART) third-quarter Breakfast Business meeting themed: Funding Aviation Infrastructure Deficit in Nigeria Using Private Capital: Challenges and Prospects.

 According to him, apart from prioritizing aviation, the government needs to recognise air transport as a catalyst and major contributor to economic growth, sustainability, and synergy with other sectors; tourism, trade, finance, and public health inclusive.

The iPADIS founder stated that it didn’t matter the ownership or source of funding but that corporate governance had become a cultural problem in Nigeria, considering the fact that Nigerians are in the Diaspora helping other countries with their infrastructure challenges and getting applause.

Aliu as former President of Council ICAO has always spoken on the need for Africa to urgently address its aviation infrastructure gaps, given current and high levels of awareness of how air connectivity has become such a unique and indispensable catalyst for socio-economic growth on this continent.


Founder and Managing Director of Quorum Aviation Limited, Mr. Lukman Abiola Lawal


 In his remark at the 2019 Aviation Infrastructure for Africa Gap Analysis Workshop held in Montreal and Abuja, he said ICAO long-term traffic forecasts indicated that passenger and freight traffic for the African region is expected to grow by 4.3 percent and 3.8 percent annually through 2035. Currently accounting for four percent of global air transport services, Africa presents the highest potential for growth out of all of ICAO’s global regions.

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He said, “But rapidly-expanding air traffic and enhanced air connectivity can only be sustained with continued investment and development for aviation infrastructure, capacity, and technology, supported by a regulatory framework which is ICAO compliant and therefore harmonized with other States and Regions.”

President of ASRTI, Dr. Gbenga Olowo emphasized the need for the country to begin to address the existing infrastructure challenges and take advantage of existing improvement prospects. Olowo in his welcome address said that the ART has repeatedly treated the topic of infrastructure deficit since 2015 but raised more questions instead of the solutions.

He said, ”ART has repeatedly treated this topic since 2015 almost every year. But where are we? Who is doing what? How has the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) delivered on its Key Performance Index (KPI)? And how transparent?  How easy is the much-touted ‘ease of doing business?

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 ” We hear Nigeria is in a debt trap with a galloping interest rate, inflation, and battered exchange rate through continuous borrowing for infrastructure. What are the impediments that scare away would be private investors from Nigeria (especially Nigerian-born investors who are doing exploits in other economies?

 Other speakers at the event admitted that private capital investment was needed for a quantum leap.


President, Aviation Round Table (ART), Dr. Gbenga Olowo

However, Professor Bamidele Badejo of the Department of Geography, Olabisi Onabanjo University said even though there was a need for private capital investment in aviation infrastructure, the Infrastructure Concession & Regulatory Commission (ICRC) should collaborate with the industry to first, identify specific existing deficits while the private capital entrepreneurs must make full disclosures of their assets and liabilities and prove their competences before approval as against what has happened over the years that contributed to the failure of Public-Private Partnerships on infrastructure.

 The importance of good corporate governance was also emphasized by all other speakers at the event including Mr. Raphael Kuuchi, Consulting Director, African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Mr. Abiola Lukeman Lawal, Mrs. Adebimpe Ajimotokin of Guarantee Trust Bank and. Femi Adeniji.

Wole Shadare