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Stakeholders Urge Strategic Investments for Africa’s Aviation Growth

By Patience Chat Moses

Aviation experts, suppliers, aircraft manufacturers and other stakeholders in the African aviation sector from different parts of the world, gathered at the recently concluded Aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Africa Conference to discuss and deliberate on strategies for improving the continent’s aviation sector.

The conference, which was on the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) of aircraft is an annual event organized to draw attention to aircraft maintenance and safety and to bring aviation professionals together to brainstorm on air travel development in Africa. Organized by the African Aviation Services (AAS), this year’s MRO conference took place at the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of African Aviation Services, Nick Fadugba, said that Africa needs safe, reliable, affordable and profitable airlines that would promote travel, trade and tourism. Fadugba noted that currently there was need for the training of aviation personnel, need for fair pricing and better communication among industry stakeholders, adding that future prosperity would be achieved with good service, patriotism and cooperation. Also in attendance was the Secretary General of the African Airlines Association (AAA), Abdérahmane Berthé, underscored Nigeria’s dynamic market for fostering airline competition, while emphasizing the crucial role aviation financing plays in developing Africa’s MRO capabilities. Amid discussions at the conference, Berthé stressed the substantial investment required for aircraft acquisition and maintenance. He highlighted supply chain, logistics, and customs challenges in African nations, leading to costly MRO operations across the continent. With projections indicating a doubling of air traffic by 2042, Berthé acknowledged the increasing demand for MRO services. He identified hurdles in aviation financing for Africa’s aviation sector, especially affecting smaller and medium-sized airlines on the continent. Berthé commended the efforts of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in establishing a financing platform for airlines.

He noted that AAA is actively engaged in discussions with the bank to explore avenues for supporting aviation projects on the continent while stressing and demonstrating operational capability and solid business plans to secure aviation financing, likening it to obtaining conventional bank loans. Addressing Nigeria’s aviation landscape, Berthé highlighted the country’s robust domestic and intercontinental market potential.

Acknowledging regional disparities in aviation, the Secretary General of the Association expressed optimism about Nigeria’s potential to become a major player, similar to Ethiopian Airlines. Berthé envisioned Nigeria serving as a pivotal hub for connecting Africa’s diverse regions, thereby bolstering continental air connectivity. His remarks underscored the imperative of addressing aviation financing challenges to realize Africa’s MRO potential. Nigeria’s pivotal role necessitates strategic investments and partnerships to cultivate a competitive aviation ecosystem across the continent.

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