in Business & Finance / Features

AfDB banks on more regional integration

Posted 22 August 2019 · Add Comment

For several years the African Development Bank (AfDB) has been supporting commercial aviation in Africa and the organisation’s chief aviation officer, Romain Ekoto, has been explaining about current projects and his vision for the future.

Ekoto joined the AfDB in June 2018 following more than 11 years with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). He is responsible for the development and implementation of AfDB’s strategy to support the commercial aviation sector.
“The AfDB has set key strategic goals, including regional integration, and we support aviation because this sector appears more than ever as a contributing factor,” he explained.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), commercial aviation in Africa generates $55.8 billion in economic activity and 6.8 million jobs. Over the next 20 years, the sector is expected to grow by about 6% a year.
Ekoto believes that air transport in Africa is a strategic sector for the AfDB… an organisation that’s based in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, in west Africa.
Over the past decade, the AfDB has invested about $20 billion in transportation infrastructure, including more than $1 billion in the aviation sector. “Around 75% of funding in aviation is devoted to the modernisation of airport infrastructure,” he said, while acknowledging that the deficit remains significant.
One of its recent projects was financing the modernisation of Nelson Mandela International Airport at Praia in Cape Verde, which is entering its final phase. According to AfDB forecasts, after the work it will be able to accommodate 940,000 passengers annually by 2020 – and 2.2 million by 2035.
Similar investments have been made in the construction or expansion of airports in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and Tunisia, as well as in the improvement of air safety and navigation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“Another of the key objectives of AfDB is to enhance commercial aviation’s profitability, so improving economic performance. By allowing airport managers to access cost-effective financing, and then working closely with them on governance and revenue generation, they should be able to improve results,” he said.
The AfDB is also supporting a regional programme, in the form of grants, for building capacity and coordinating operating systems in 25 west and central African countries. “In the long term, AfDB support aims to increase the number of airports certified to ICAO standards to 20 by the end of 2019.”
The institution also supports other parts of the sector including airlines. “We have already financed the acquisition of aircraft by Ethiopian Airlines and, more recently, by Air Côte d'Ivoire,” he concluded.
 

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