01.06.2002 Feature Article

Ghana's Untapped Economic Powerhouse : Aviation

Ghana's Untapped Economic Powerhouse : Aviation
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Embracing Aviation as a means to national development

Aviation has played a key role in the development of the world economy by stimulating exchanges between countries and facilitating global business relations, acts as a catalyst for leisure markets and particularly a driver for regional development. Unfortunately however Ghana’s Aerospace potential has been left almost untapped Today air transportation services are provided by over 1500 airlines serving about 4000 airports. Almost 40 percent of approximately 600 million annual international tourist arrivals world-wide are by air transport. About one third of the world’s manufactured exports are currently being transported by air, while lots of employment is generated through these aviation activities. As a general estimate for every million passengers at least 1,000 airport jobs are generated and 200 off-airport jobs. Overall Aerospace industries generate employment and income, with a multiplier effect on other non aviation economic activity. Aviation has broad impact on a nations economy, by simulating it through direct and induced ways. Apart from quantifiable economic benefits, Aviation also generates tangible “Spin off” benefits. These include reducing the cost to trade and movement, attracting new businesses to locations with good air service links and support for the development of new technology and distribution processes based on the rapid movement of people and goods. In addition to these benefits Aviation provides fringe benefits like strengthening of national loyalty and links between villages and regions in the country. Developed nations identified aviation as a vital economic powerhouse. The United States developed a progressive aviation policy aimed at unmasking its overall potential. While at the forefront of the Aerospace industry, the U.S. continues research and develop of its aerospace industry In the U.S. today aviation and it’s value added components contributing about six percent to the nations gross domestic product. If the entire U.S. Aviation sector was a separate, self-contained economy, It would rank eleventh in the World. Slightly smaller than Brazil’s GDP, and a little larger than India’s. Aviation is one of the principle generators of wealth for the U.S. and many industrialized nations. Several nations are following the footpath of the U.S. and other great nations that have comprehensive aerospace polices. Nations have made positive moves by placing aviation policy top on national agenda with resultant success. Countries like Kenya, Gambia, Thailand and Indonesia have realized overall national growth though aviation based tourism. Seychelles’s tourism increased after the opening of its international airport in 1971. Today through aviation, tourism provides over 50 percent of GDP to Seychelles while accounting for more than 20 percent of all employment and 70 percent of foreign exchange. In light of these benefits ECOWAS set in motion its Aerospace initiative, by establishing an ECOWAS airline aimed at tapping the regions potential while fostering regional integration It’s unfortunate that Ghana over the years has made very little effort at embracing the enormous aviation potential at its door step. The problem of our national Airline, Ghana Airways desires much to be said. Foreign airlines continue to milk prosperity on routes previously dominated by Ghana Airways, while the fate of the Airline continues to be tossed on a shoe string. Until September 11th Ghana Airways enjoyed great customer loyalty and high load factors Ghana airways through the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority ,with its enviable safety record and expertise earned the prestigious F.A.A. category one accreditation. This rating my seem irrelevant now, due to all the hullabaloo going on with Ghana Airways. To say the least about the significance of this rating, if quantifiable and well exploited it would account for chunk of the Airlines profit and the nations GDP at large. No wonder Ghana Airways felt the sting of September 11th attacks more than any other African airline The FAA category one accreditation while being enjoyed by very few African nations, (less than 5), gives Ghana airways and all other Accredited Airlines access to the United States. Complementary for African Nations is unlimited frequency without Ghana having to reciprocate this through any bilateral agreement. No doubt aviation experts don’t understand why it’s taking government so long to redeem or at worst sell the airline while its vital structures remain intact. Our nation would suffer more waste if the airline erodes into worthlessness, while its highly trained manpower are preyed upon by nations that have no investment towards training these skilled professionals. With great strides being made in other areas of development, it is imperative our nation maps out some aviation policy. Tremendous growth has been projected in the African Aviation sector. Boeing aircraft company, the Federal Aviation Administration, International Air Transportation Association and the International Civil Aviation Organization all forecast significant growth in African air transport. Passenger traffic within the continent is projected to increase at a rate of 6 percent per year, well above estimated worldwide average. The African Growth And Opportunity Act has targeted development of African aviation systems as an important vehicle for attainment of its overall objective. While international bodies like the FAA, and ICAO strive to help Africa milk it’s great potential, at the apex of any meaningful assistance would be government and parliament executing it’s own aerospace policy targeted at overall national growth Asiwome Dzakuma FAA Licensed Commercial Pilot (AMEL) and an Aerospace graduate student at the Middle Tennessee State University Views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Ghanaweb.

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