There is a critical need for expertise if Ghana and other African countries’ aviation industry is to register growth and sustainability, Aviation Minister, Cecilia Abena Dapaah has said.
The minister implored China to, therefore, have an increasing focus on expertise transfer in its cooperation with the continent.
In addition to key challenges of poor intra-Africa connectivity and inadequate infrastructure bedevilling the industry, human capacity is weak.
Speaking at the China-Africa Regional Aviation Cooperation Conference, dubbed; “China-Africa Regional Aviation Cooperation: Prospect and Recommendation”, Dapaah observed that, increasing intra-Africa air connectivity will enable Africa seize the opportunities for growth provided by its demographic and resource advantages.
With Africa’s estimated population of 1.1 billion and China’s slightly higher population of 1.3 billion, an efficient and effective air transport system between the two will serve as catalyst for trade, commerce, tourism and investment, she surmised.
As at 2015, trade between Ghana and China was US$ 6 billion, with a projected annual increase of 18 percent.
Amidst the numerous challenges that hinder the potential growth of the industry, air travel still remains essential to Africa in enhancing connectivity, trade, job creation, and to drive tourism and economic growth.
Continentally, the industry supports nearly seven million jobs and US$ 80 billion in GDP.
Dapaah asked that airlines in China to take advantage of the numerous Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs) with various African countries and begin operation to several destinations on the continent and vice versa, including Ghana.
She was quick to note that Africa World Airline (AWA) was birthed from the strategic partnership between Ghanaian and Chinese investors.
Dapaah highlighted the current level of cooperation existing between the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority and Civil Aviation Administration of China in the area of airworthiness.
This cooperation the two countries has also resulted in the provision of major infrastructure to the Ghana Air Force.
Outcomes of the conference will serve as input to the upcoming 7th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) to be held later this year in Beijing, China.
The minister reiterated a number of strategic aviation programmes and projects, among which is the soon to be completed Terminal 3 at the Kotoka International Airport and the on-going decoupling of air navigation services from regulatory services.
Others include; the construction of a state of the art air navigation services complex, among others.
By Joshua W. Amlanu