The Nigerian aviation sector is tipped by Embraer in a 2020 report to experience the biggest growth in Africa in the next decade and more. The report estimated that Nigeria’s aviation sector has a prospect for an over $7.2 billion (over N3.3trn) annual Grosso Domestic Product Growth (GDP).
“With the implementation of open skies, according to a study on SAATM by Embraer (2020), in 2038, using traffic forecasts and economic impact estimates from ICAO, Nigeria’s aviation industry would contribute some $1.3 billion to GDP. That number would rise to $7.2 billion when factoring in the induced and indirect catalytic effects of tourism. Aviation could generate 800,000 jobs of which 60,000 would be directly associated with airline operations” the report indicated.
Also, a recent aviation sector study for Nigeria by International Air Transportation Association (IATA) in June 2020, showcases the significant contribution of air transportation to the National economy, by providing 241,000 jobs (direct and indirect) and a contribution of $1.7 billion to the National economy.
The FG projects that with the successful implementation of the roadmap projects, the overall goal is to grow the Aviation sector’s contribution from the current 0.6% to 5% (approximately $14.166 billion).
Thus, ahead of these reports, since 2015, the federal government of Nigeria deliberately began concrete implementation of open skies or The Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and Nigeria’s Aviation Roadmap. These policies were actively piloted by the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, and abled by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Aviation Roadmap is chiefly to build tangible and intangible aviation infrastructure to unlock the over N3 trillion aviation annual economy and reposition even for greater growth.
The key components of the aviation roadmap according to the policy document include: Establishment of a National Carrier, Development of Agro-Allied /Cargo Terminals § Establishment of Maintenance, Repairs, and Overhaul (MRO) Centre, Establishment of an Aviation Leasing Company (ALC), Development of Aerotropolis (Airport Cities), Establishment of an Aviation & Aerospace University, and Concession of five International Airports (Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Kano, and Port Harcourt.
Others include; the upgrade of NCAT into an ICAO Regional Training Centre of Excellence, the Designation of Four International Airports as Special Economic Zones, the Introduction of Policies on Remotely Piloted Aircraft, Adherence to Employment Policies on the Enforcement of Expatriate Quota, and the upgrade of AIB to a Multimodal Accident Investigation Agency – Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB).
After about eight years of sustained implementation of the roadmap and implementation of other enablers in the aviation sector, the aviation sector witnessed unpreceded growth in spite of the Nigerian economy experiencing a recession twice within the period.
Giving a scorecard of the aviation sector recently, Hadi Sirika said “We have successfully debunked the claim that aviation doubles every 15 years. Currently in Nigeria, the number of airports including those currently being developed has doubled, the passenger number has doubled, other entrepreneurship including catering and ground handling has blossomed, the number of airlines and jobs has multiplied” he said adding that even the 2020 global pandemic could push back Nigeria’s aviation industry growth.
A cursory look at the roadmap deliverables showed that Nigeria Air, the most talked a bit item on the roadmap is about 90 percent completed. The due process on the project by the regulator Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has returned a clean bill of health, the outline business case approved, the core investor and other investors unveiled, the full business case is being developed for FEC to approve and the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) has passed the second stage of procurement at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
“Nigeria Air has the strategic direction, with a solid business plan for the next ten years and a start-up budget of 250 million US dollars. The Nigerian Government only invests 5% into this start-up funding (12.5 million US dollars), in line with its 5% share in Nigeria Air. By the transparent and structured PPP process the Government has ensured a clear ownership structure, including the leading African airline, with a secured start-up budget which gives Nigeria Air a solid financial foundation” said Prof. Tilmann Gabriel, a researcher on African Aviation.
The benefit to be derived from the establishment of the national Carrier are; reduction of capital flight from Nigeria; gain of the optimal benefit of BASA and SAATM; development of an Aviation hub; contribution to the GDP; facilitate hospitality and tourism; facilitate growth and development of the Nigerian Agricultural Sector; and create jobs around the Agro-Cargo Terminals.
Designation of five International Airports (Lagos, Abuja, Enugu Kano & Port Harcourt) as Special Economic Zones. Mr. President approved the designation of the Four International Airports as Special Economic Zones on 17th May 2021. The next step is the commencement of Implementation processes with NEPZA is ongoing. The Benefits of Special Economic Zones are i. more efficient and business-friendly trade environment with less bureaucratic red tape because of the associated fiscal incentives and packages; ii. attract world-class international and local Airlines/Companies into the Nigeria Aviation Industry; iii. attract investment incentives which include; Investment Policies and Protection, General Tax Based Incentives, Sector Specific Incentives, Tariff Based Incentives, and Export Incentives; iv. attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and generate employment opportunities and human capital development, thus stimulating the overall improvement of the Nigerian Aviation Industry; v. improve the overall ease of doing business in Nigeria and more.
Airports to be Concession are as follows: – Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos: a. Old International Terminal – Terminal and Ramp b. New International Terminal – Terminal, Ramp, Car Park c. Cargo Terminal – Ramp – Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Port Harcourt and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano a. Old International and Domestic Terminal – Terminal, Ramp, Car Park b. New International Terminal – Terminal, Ramp c. Cargo Ramp. (To be developed). The current position is that Negotiation with preferred bidders on-going. Draft Full Business Case (FBC) finalized and the FG is targeting a completion period – 2nd quarter, 2023.
Establishment of An Aviation Leasing Company (ALC) An Aviation Leasing Company which would be private sector-driven will be established to address the challenges of limited access to capital and high cost of funds. The ALC will provide leasing opportunities for Nigerian and African airlines in order to boost fleet size, and alleviate the problem of aircraft leasing and high insurance premium charges. The current status is that a Full Business Case (FBC) has been completed and a certificate of compliance issued by the ICRC. And awaiting FEC approval. Project to commence operation by the 2nd Quarter, 2023 based on the projection.
Establishment of a Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) Centre. The establishment of a private sector-driven Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Centre is critical for the diversification and repositioning of the Aviation Industry as it provides aircraft repairs, overhaul, and maintenance services. Experts say currently this facility does not exist in the whole of West and Central Africa. MRO is therefore a necessary requirement to facilitate the development of the aviation industry. The proposed facility will have the capacity to serve both Narrow and Wide Body aircraft maintenance requirements and will be located in Abuja. The Full Business Case (FBC) has been completed and a certificate of compliance was issued by the ICRC, which was subsequently approved by FEC.
Development of Aerotropolis (Airport Cities). The FG anticipates that the development of Nigeria’s major commercial airports and surrounding communities into efficient, profitable, and self-sustaining commercial hubs through increased private sector participation and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will create jobs and grow the local industry. The project will be structured as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement where the private partner will be required to design, develop, finance, and maintain the Aerotropolis during the agreed period. The Aerotropolis will contain the full complement of commercial facilities that support airlines and aviation-linked businesses. Other components of the project include the development of hospitality and tourism-oriented real estate assets; and ancillary support infrastructure. Currently, the land has been acquired, and the process for the selection of a preferred partner has commenced.
Development of Cargo/Agro-Allied Airport Terminals ..2 To take advantage of the high-value agricultural products potential of Nigeria, the need arose to develop dedicated Cargo/Agro-Allied Terminals and ancillary infrastructure in each of the six (6) geographical zones of the country to facilitate the movement of fresh produce by air. The terminals will be established via a Design, Build, Operate, and Maintain model of Public Private Partnership (PPP). The proposed terminals will have facilities such as a dry Cargo Terminal Warehouse; a Perishable Cargo Terminal with Cool Chain Storage; climate chambers for storage and handling of temperature-sensitive products including Pharmaceuticals and Bonded Warehouses. The procurement phase is ongoing and the selection of the preferred partner is ongoing with a target of the second quarter of 2023 as a completion target.
The establishment of Aerospace University. The school is tipped to arrest of the dearth of high-level management cadre in the Aviation Industry. it will also promote Aviation Research and Development. Already the concept note has been presented to NUC for their consideration. African Aviation & Aerospace University (AAAU) courses to commence 2nd Quarter 2022.
Commenting on the aviation roadmap Prof. Tilmann Gabriel said “The Buhari Government had promised a new aviation industry which the future of Nigeria can rely on. It took hard work by the many involved, driven by a Minister of Aviation never tired of pushing this Buhari strategy in the last seven years.”
Also commenting Prof. Mansur Bako Matazu, the Director-General, of the Nigerian Mereological Agency (NiMet) said one of the components of the roadmap is the creation of an Aviation and Aerospace University which is already happening.
He also said the roadmap is providing incentives for professionals to stay. “This will curtail the mass exodus of professionals for our great industry with all the huge potentials” he stated.
He also said the roadmap has yielded partnerships with other countries and these have helped to improve the industry.
According to the DG with the roadmap implementation, most of the agencies now have their specialized training centers including NiMet.
“We now operate two accredited schools where we offer Diplomas in Meteorology and Climate Change. We will soon upscale to HND other short-term courses.:
Prof. Matzo also said “The roadmap has encouraged entrepreneurship and innovation. These components could impact reduction in brain drain and most of these have been captured by the roadmap implemented by the Federal Ministry of Aviation: he stated adding that all aviation stakeholders were a part of the development of the document.