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General News of Friday, 4 December 2009

Source: GNA

Air transport in Africa facing challenges

Accra, Dec. 4, GNA - Mr. Mike Hammah, Minister of Transport, on Thursday said the Air Transport Industry in West Africa is faced numerous challenges, particularly from the industrialised economies. "The solution largely lies in our ability to unite and transform the industry into a dynamic force that would play a lead role in the economic development of the sub-region," he added.

Mr. Hammah said this in Accra, when he opened the first meeting of Director- Generals of Civil Aviation Authorities, Airports, Air Navigation Service Providers, and Airlines in West Africa.

He said in order to achieve more efficiency, it was necessary for Africa to move away form the situation where Civil Aviation Authorities regulated, managed and also provided air navigation services at the same time.

Mr. Hammah said in Ghana the Ghana Airports Company Limited was carved out of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to develop and maintain airports whilst the authority remained the regulator and provider of air navigation services.

"Government is prepared to further decouple the current GCAA so that the air navigation service arm would become a separate entity." The transport minister said it was very necessary for the liberalisation of air transportation in the sub-region to be continued, by eliminating all non-physical barriers such as tariffs. Mr. Hammah said the Yamoussoukro decision, which sought to address the different levels of air-transport development in countries within the sub-region, made provision for progressive liberalisation over a two year period, beginning form July.

He invited sister countries to patronise the Ghana Civil Aviation Training Academy and said the strengthening of the human capacity was most crucial to the aviation industry. He said in spite of progress that had been made in air transport within the sub-region, the industry still faced some constraints, especially in the area of finance.

"We can move forward patiently, if we gird our loins and get together as one people with a common destiny," he said. The Director General of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, Air Commodore Kwame Mamphey, expressed the hope that participants would bring to the fore some of the critical matters that need to be looked at within the industry.

"Our meeting would have to focus on the critical areas that would attract the attention of the various policy makers to address once and for all, the burning issues within the industry."

The meeting, the first of its kind, spans December 3rd and 4.

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