Accra, March 28, GNA – Ghana is hosting the Second International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Meeting on the Sustainable Development of Air Transport in Africa, which aims at prioritising air transport development on the continent to facilitate socio-economic development.
The three-day meeting, which is being attended by various actors in the aviation industry from all over Africa, would also map out concrete actions needed to boost the industry.
The meeting would also feature a special event, aimed at promoting tourism and air links between African States and the Diaspora, especially the Caribbean.
It also focuses on strategies required for the establishment of air links, trade and investment.
The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, Ghana Airports Company Limited, and the Ministry of Aviation are partnering the ICAO to host the Meeting as a follow up to the Declaration of the Sustainable Development of Air Transport, in Africa, adopted in Antananarivo, Madagascar, in March, 2015 (the Antananarivo Declaration).
The participants, supported by air transport stakeholders and international organisations, decided at the end of the first Meeting held in Madagascar, to meet biennially to assess progress made in the implementation of the necessary actions agreed on in relation to the key areas identified for improvement.
Ms Cecilia Abena Dapaah, the Minister of Aviation, who opened the meeting, commended efforts of the various countries in ensuring that the aviation industry thrived to support its large clientele.
“I also want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude as a country for the tremendous support and guidance we continue to get from ICAO to enable us continue to perform to the expected standards and also assure everybody that we will continue to improve our oversight responsibilities to ensure that our skies are safe,” she said.
Ms Dapaah said the Government had made a commitment to make Ghana an aviation hub both for international and regional airlines within the West Africa sub-region.
In view of that, it had embarked on a number of projects including, the ongoing ultra-modern terminal three project at the Kotoka International Airport, and the elevation of the status of the Tamale Airport in the Northern Region to an international airport.
She said the Government was also scaling up the capacity of the Kumasi Airport in the Ashanti Region, as it had scraped the 17.5 per cent VAT on domestic flights.
She said the Government additionally intended to re-introduce a national carrier, in collaboration with the Private Sector, in an effort to consolidate the strides made over the years.
Ms Dapaah said there was the need to speed up the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Declaration with regard to the Liberalization of Access to Air Transport Markets in Africa as it sought to establish a single African Air Transport Market, which it considered crucial to the achievement of the long-term vision of the African Union (AU) known as the AU Agenda 2063.
The Minister, therefore, urged the participants to come out with “very practicable and cost effective measures to ensure that we ground this relationship”.
Mr Simon Allotey, Director-General of Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, said the meeting would enable participants to think through how to liberalise market access and air carrier ownership and control; ensure cooperation throughout the air transport value chain; and provide consumer protection; fair competition and security and facilitation.
There would also be discussion around funding for infrastructure, taxes and user charges; capacity-building for qualified personnel; and the support to the Single African Air Transport Market, as well as adherence to international instruments.
He said the meeting also looked forward to addressing the challenges on efficient travelling within Africa and improving connectivity with the diaspora and in the Caribbean.
Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, the President of ICAO, said policy-makers, air transport regulators, representatives from the Aviation Industry and other stakeholders, were to review the progress towards the implementation of the Antananarivo Declaration, identify challenges and opportunities, and agree on a Roadmap for priority actions, building on the decisions of the 39th ICAO Assembly.
He urged countries to work to support a more stable aviation industry and also work to improve aviation infrastructure.