The first Aerospace and Aviation Exhibition for Africa has opened at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra.


Professionals, experts and industry players from across the continent and the world at large are part of the Exhibition, dubbed: the “African Air Show”.


The three-day Exhibition, which is being organized by the Aviation Ministry and its agencies, is also expected to showcase businesses, commercial and defense aircrafts, network and serve as the platform for the African market to the world of aviation.


The theme for the event is Connecting professionals across all areas on the Aviation industry within the African market.


Addressing the opening ceremony, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo reiterated Government’s commitment to partnering the private sector to offer a modern and attractive air transport infrastructure, build capacity and establish institutional and policy framework to enhance the safety and security of air services in the country.


President Akufo-Addo disclosed that in pursuit of that agenda and as part of efforts to fulfill its aviation-hub vision and to enhance connectivity, Government had given policy approval for the establishment of a Home-based Carrier with private sector participation.


He said it was Government’s vision to establish Ghana as both an aviation hub within West Africa and the preferred destination of choice for travellers.


Government, he said, had, therefore, re-created the Aviation Ministry to develop the Ghanaian aviation industry and make it highly competitive within the West African region.


He urged Ghanaians, home and abroad, to invest in the rapidly-growing aviation sector, adding that on-going and up-coming projects in Ghana’s aviation sector, would lead to an enhanced air travel experience.


The projects, the President said, were the construction of Terminal 3― designed to accommodate five (5) million passengers in the next 5 years and expected to be completed in April, 2018―at the Kotoka International Airport (K.I.A); establishment of a Modern Air Navigation Services Centre at K.I.A to ensure the safety and security of aircrafts, and passengers in Ghana’s air space; and Phase II of both Kumasi and Tamale Airports.


He explained that these and other investments in infrastructure and air navigation systems were required to respond to anticipated traffic growth and  keep up with the dynamism in technology that the aviation industry demanded.


President Akufo-Addo said Government’s overall direction for national development, as contained in his Co-ordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies (CP) (2017-2024), was to create the conditions for the private sector to thrive in the aviation industry in order to propel growth and create employment, especially for the youth.


He reiterated Government’s commitment to encouraging and supporting local airlines and entrepreneurs to set up strong private airlines that could fully utilize all the nation’s route rights.


He disclosed that Government, through the Ministry of Aviation, was reviewing initial Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA) with its Contracting States, leading, for example, to the Africa World Airline (AWA), a domestic airline, now flying daily to Abuja and Lagos.


Subsequently, the President said the number of international airlines operating in the country had increased from 35 to 37 this year.


He identified the two additions as Air France and Mid Africa Aviation (based in the Gambia), adding that other domestic airlines  were expected to  begin operations in due course, citing Asamoah Gyan, Captain of Ghana’s Senior National Team, the Black Stars, as having obtained an Air Carrier License (ACL), and working feverishly to establish an airline, called Baby Jet Airlines.


Speaking at the event, Ghana's Aviation Minister, Cecilia Ama Dapaah, said the event, the first of its kind in the sub-region was expected to develop and expand the frontiers of aviation in Ghana.


Mrs  Dapaah  said the air show which had attracted global players in the Aviation industry would showcase developments and innovations on commercial aviation which covered aircraft manufacturers, maintenance, navigation services, ground handling, aerospace and tourism.


In his remarks, John Attufuah, Managing Director, Ghana Airports Company, commended President Akufo-Addo for his commitment to the development of the Aviation industry.


Mr Attfuah said the “African Air Show” event would create opportunities and promote investment into the country's aviation sector.


Knowledge and information derived from the event, Mr Attuafuah said, would facilitate the development of Ghana’s International Airport into a world class airport.


Since assuming office in January 2017, as President, and following his  Government’s decision to remove the 17.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) on domestic air fares to make domestic travel affordable, domestic airfares have seen some reduction, and the passenger throughput has increased significantly from 302,270 as at September 2016 to 373,429 as at September 2017, representing a 23.5% increase.


The Aviation industry worldwide supports 62.7 million jobs, comprising 9.9 million direct jobs, 11.2 million indirect jobs, 5.2 million induced jobs and 36.3 million tourism catalytic jobs.


Aviation’s global economic impact amounts in value to US $2.7 trillion, with 3.5 per cent of global GDP supported by aviation. Every day, 9.8 million passengers take to the air with 104,000 flights and some US $18.6 billion worth of goods are carried.


IATA further reports that air traffic globally has been growing at 5 per cent annually, and is projected to grow at 5.6 per cent per year over the next twenty (20) years. In Africa, air transport supports 6.8 million jobs and contributes in value US $72.5 billion of GDP.


Significantly while the world is growing at 5 per cent, Africa is growing at 6%. In Ghana, the growth rate in aviation is in the average of 7.9 per cent per annum.


Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)