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Ghana to take the place of the hub of air transport in West Africa

Mrs Cecilia Abena Dapaah on Monday reiterated government’s commitment to partner the private sector to establish a national carrier that would restore the national pride.

She said the Government would do everything possible to establish the national airline which would also create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth.

In view of this, the Government abolished the 17.5 per cent VAT on domestic air transport in this year’s budget intended to create a sustainable industry, she said. While the Aviation Minister said this, the president of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Dr Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu, led a delegation to pay a courtesy call on her ahead of the Second International Conference on Sustainable Air Transport in Africa.

The conference, slated for Tuesday, March 28, would bring together stakeholders in the industry to discuss and adopt strategies to develop the air transport sector in Africa.Mrs Dapaah said the Government would continue to support air transport development by providing the necessary infrastructure and human resource towards that cause.

‘‘Experts will soon come in to validate all the initiatives government has undertaken so that passengers travel in safety and comfort.‘‘We also like the peer to peer review so that it will put all of us on a narrow path to make sure we do the right thing,’’ she said.Mrs Dapaah noted that without domestic air transport it would be difficult to strengthen the African integration and, therefore, called for measures to rejuvenate the 27 airlines that had collapsed on the continent.

She commended the President of ICAO for being the first African to occupy that position in the over 70 years history of the Organisation, and described him as a visionary leader who wanted the best for Africa and the rest of the world.Dr Aliu commended the Government for establishing a separate ministry for civil aviation, adding that it showed the importance government attached to the sector and expressed optimism that Ghana would play a leadership role in the aviation industry.

He said the development of the aviation industry was linked to the socio-economic development of every country, saying; ‘‘Ghana is a good story we want to tell to the world so I encourage you to do more in the air transport sector’’.Currently, he said, there were 30 million flights per day involving 33 billion passengers and that most of the flights were from Latin America, Asia and Europe with Africa accounting for only four per cent.

Dr Aliu said the Organisation had envisioned to increase the number of flights from 30 to 60 million in the next 15 years and, therefore, urged African countries to position themselves to take advantage of the intended increase to boost their economies.He commended the Government for enhancing the infrastructure at the country’s airport and called for the strengthening of security to ensure the safety of passengers.

Dr Aliu said the last time Ghana’s air transport sector was audited was in 2006 and it scored 64 per cent.He expressed the hope that the country would improve upon its previous performance as the Organisation would soon embark on another audit.The ICAO is a United Nations specialised agency dedicated to the administration of international air navigation.
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