In the presentation of the coordinator of Avia Cargo Roadmap Committee, Mr. Ikechi Uko, titled “Repositioning cargo operations through the development of agriculture and natural resources in Nigeria” divulged at the ongoing Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) National Aviation Conference (FNAC) in Abuja, it was stated that farmers’ refusal to comply with Internationally and locally accepted standards, lack of certification or access to international markets, bureaucracy, poor airport infrastructure, multiple taxation and others are impediments to a prosperous Avia Cargo industry.
Mr. Uko stated that the five biggest African exporting countries in 2021 were South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. Also, this powerful group of African shippers collectively gained more than half, 55.7 percent, of the total exports by value in Africa. According to the Airport Council International (ACI) 2021 report implemented by Uko, Nairobi airport is the highest having 363,204 tonnes of cargo; Cairo International Airport with 333,536 tonnes of cargo; South African Oliver Reginald Int’l Airport with 304,018 tonnes and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Nigeria, having 204,649 tonnes of cargo.
Enhancement of certification of farms & operators will erase impediments.
Despite the massive Agro produce across Nigeria, empty cargo aircraft depart the country; this has caused worry for the Avia Cargo coordinator. He said there are available cargo aircraft capable of transporting farm produce from the country to many other parts of the world and equipment made available by logistics firms to domestically transport cargo but products still suffer wastage in various states in the country as a result of black markets and information. He added that the federal government is making moves to expand cashew export from $252 million to $500 million in 2023 but for non-compliance of farmer to foreign and locally accepted standards.
According to his presentation, achievement of the government’s plans and improvement of the industry requires that Nigerian agricultural exports begin from a farm with certification by the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) or a global GAP registered farm through a reliably secured pathway. Hence, he requested for the enhancement of certification of farms and operators in the value chain, including them for traceability of every exportable produce so as to effectively address difficulties at the export cargo terminals.
Country’s economy should be facilitated by aviation industry.
Former President of the Council of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Dr. Bernard Olumuyiwa Aliu, speaking at the conference, appealed that stakeholders in the country’s aviation sector make aviation a facilitator of the nation’s economy. He stated that development of the industry has to be accompanied by the capability to support flights that get into Nigeria with provision of enabling policies and operating environment. He firmly asserted that if the ranking of a country’s aviation sector lags behind its economic ranking globally, it means aviation does not facilitate the economy but slows it down.
Director General of NiMeT, Prof. Mansur Bako Matazu, provided potential solutions to brain drain in the sector during his speech. Some of these solutions include the provision of incentives for professionals, investment in education, establishment of partnership with other nations, and training possible entrepreneurship and innovation. Prof. Matazu, in his statement, believes the possibility of creating a motivated and sustainable workforce that has sufficient equipment to address present and future challenges of a swiftly transforming industry, if the aforementioned strategies are put in place.
Brain drain causes reduced productivity and revenue.
The Permanent Representative of Nigeria with World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Prof. Matazu, added that some of the factors responsible for brain drain in the sector include absence of infrastructure and investment, insufficient compensation and benefits for professionals, political instability and insecurity, and limited opportunities to aid professional growth and development. Brain drain, he said, negatively impacts the quality and safety of air transportation in the country as it could cause reduced competitiveness of the aviation sector in Nigeria. It also has a tendency of causing reduced productivity and revenue, and increased costs to train new employees.