24.01.2018 Opinion

Aviation Human Resources in Ghana: A Call for Local- Content Requirement Policy Okatakyie Kwasi Adjekum, Ph.D., CSP, ATP (Assistant Professor of Aviation/Aerospace Sciences) J.D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. University of North Dakota.

By J.D. Odegard
Aviation Human Resources in Ghana: A Call for Local- Content Requirement Policy Okatakyie Kwasi Adjekum, Ph.D., CSP, ATP Assistant Professor of AviationAerospace Sciences J.D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. University of North Dakota.
24.01.2018 LISTEN

As part of the key-note address during the first ever aviation and aerospace fair in Ghana, the president of Ghana Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo- Addo stated that “ With growth rate in Ghana’s aviation industry averaging 7.9% per annum, the Government’s overall direction for national development, as contained in the Co-ordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies (CP) (2017-2024), is 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” ( GNA, 2017). The president also emphasized the importance of the re-establishment of the Ministry of Aviation to develop the Ghanaian aviation industry, and make it highly competitive within the West African region.

There has been a remarkable improvement in the aviation industry in Ghana with on-going and up-coming projects in Ghana’s aviation sector, which will lead to an enhanced air travel experience. These ongoing projects include: construction of Terminal 3 at Kotoka International Airport (K.I.A), designed to accommodate five (5) million passengers in the next 5 years to be completed in April 2018; construction of Modern Air Navigation Services Centre at K.I.A, to ensure safety and security of aircraft and passengers in our air space; and construction of Phase II of both Kumasi and Tamale Airports (GACL, 2017). The need for these investments in infrastructure and air navigation systems is to respond to anticipated traffic growth, and to keep up with the dynamism in technology that the aviation industry demands.

It is envisaged that global airline industry will transport 3.78 billion passengers and 52.7 million tons of cargo. Worldwide, aviation supports jobs for 63 million people. It is the means to market for a third of the goods traded internationally (IATA, 2017). Aviation represents $2.7 trillion in global economic impact (including direct, indirect, induced and tourism catalytic) and 3.5% of global GDP is supported by aviation. Aviation already supports 6.9 million jobs and more than $80 billion in GDP across Africa. It is envisaged that additional services generated by intra- African liberalization will provide an extra 155,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in annual GDP (IATA, 2017). Aviation also plays a unique role in connecting business to markets, uniting family and friends, bringing people together to solve problems, build understanding and develop global insights.

In Ghana, aviation has the potential to create about 9,500 new jobs and an additional GDP of 46.8 million USD by 2035 (IATA, 2017). Presently there are 22 aviation operators with Air Carrier License (ACL) issued by the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and some have acquired their Air Operators Certificate (AOC) which means that they can fully operate as fully- fledged businesses entities and employ qualified personnel (GCAA, 2017). The challenge is that aviation operations are capital intensive with major cost implications for operators. The two significant cost drivers in aviation operations are fuel and labor and with the contemporary decrease in world oil prices, labor now represents the largest cost category for the aviation industry.

Labor accounts for 32.9% of most network carrier systemwide unit cost and 34.5% of value carrier cost (Planestat, 2017). It is therefore very important for aviation human resources to be retained and sources of attrition curtailed. This is more relevant for operators in promising aviation hubs such as Ghana, who are saddled with limited financial and training resources to conduct in-situ training for indigenous personnel and sometimes rely on foreign expertise for some aspects of these operations.

There are basically three areas of employment and labor relevant to the aviation industry in Ghana and these are namely the direct, indirect and induced employment sectors. There are direct employments which are related to the servicing, management, and maintenance of additional air services. This includes activities by the airlines, airport operator, air traffic control, ground handlers, airport security, immigration and customs, aircraft maintenance, etc. The other areas are indirect which encompasses “spin-off” impacts for downstream industries that supply and support the aviation activities such as wholesalers providing food for inflight catering, refineries processing oil for jet fuel, companies providing accounting and legal services to airlines, travel agents booking flights, etc. These indirect impacts generate additional employment in a range of industries. The induced employment opportunities are in the tourism and hospitality industries.

Within the prospects of a potential growth for the aviation sector also harbors concerns about the lack of local-content policies on human-resource base in Ghana’s aviation industry and there is a perception that some current operators favor expatriate aviation professionals over equally qualified and competent Ghanaians due to the gaps and weaknesses of specific local-content guidelines in our Ghana Civil Aviation Regulations (GCARs) and other existing policy frame-works. The aim of this paper is to analyze existing best-practices and policies on local-content participation in the aviation industry globally and find out present status of such policies and practices within the Ghanaian aviation sector with the aim of making recommendations for improvements in our local-content policies.

In Kenya, there is a Kenyanization policy at the Department of Immigration that is meant to ensure that only jobs that require skills not readily available in Kenya are held by expatriates or foreigners and that there are Kenyan nationals understudying the expatriates with a view to localizing the jobs over time. The Kenyanization section at the Department of Immigration Services (DIS) ensures and enforces a policy that all applications for employees work permits provide evidence that the employing company has no Kenyan qualified for it and that a Kenyan understudy has been identified to get training from the expatriate (Department of Immigration, 2017). Within the aviation spectrum, the Kenyan Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) which is a registered workers union with collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and is an umbrella association for pilots in Kenya with membership drawn from major airlines within the country strongly encourages, promotes and ensures the Kenyanization of the aviation industry in Kenya (KALPA, 2017).

In Qatar, there exist a Qatarization policy in place, which is a governmental initiative devised to increase the number of Qatari citizens employed in public and private sectors. There is a target of 50% of the workforce in the industry and energy sector should be Qatari nationals. Qatarization is one of the focuses of the Qatar National Vision 2030 (Qatar Foundation, 2017). The national carrier Qatar Airways’ Al Darb Qatarization Program is an initiative that brings young Qataris to develop themselves and their country through the national airline. It is a tremendous project that brings benefits and opportunities at a variety of different levels and aviation related fields. The Programs are tailored so young Qataris can choose the kind of career path and development opportunity that best suits them and their ambition.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), there are over 120,000 personnel (inclusive of over 85% expats) are working in the aviation industry and airlines and airports are spending millions of dollars to train these personnel, including expatriates. The government has taken more initiatives to train the UAE nationals in the aviation field (civil & military) and has a policy objective of ensuring that the future growth in the industry should be filled by trained Emirati professionals. This is also part of the broader Emiratization policy.

Angola has enacted Decree No. 5/95 mandating that foreign as well as national companies that employ more than five workers can only employ non-resident foreign workers if at least 70% of the workforce are Angolans (Tordo et al., 2013). These are some of the national policy frameworks adopted by countries to ensure a high local content human -resource base.

In Ghana, the oil and gas industry seems to be way ahead in terms of local -content participation. The enactment of Ghana’s Petroleum (Local Content and Local Participation) Regulations, 2013 (L.I. 2204) which regulates the percentage of local products, personnel, financing, and goods and services rendered within Ghana’s upstream petroleum industry value chain is proactive and progressive. Regarding the human resource component of local content, L.I. 2204 stipulates that 30% of employed management staff should be indigenous Ghanaians from the date of effectiveness of an issued petroleum license agreement.

An exemplar in the form of an interview with management of a local aviation operator in Ghana suggests that out of about 32 operational pilots, only 3 of them are expatriates (10%) with almost 13 pilots being young indigenous Ghanaians who were recruited with zero experiences form flight schools. That marks a good foundation for a Ghanaianization policy among out local operators.

Ghanaianization Policy on Aviation Human- Resource Base

It is within this light, that there must be a holistic policy guidance on how to ensure local content participation and human resource retention in Ghana’s aviation sector. The “Ghanaianization Policy” will ensure that only aviation-related jobs that require skills not readily available in Ghana are held by expatriates or foreigners and that there are Ghanaian nationals understudying the expatriates with a view to localizing the jobs over time. To enhance indigenous human resource capital for Ghana’s aviation industry, transparent and independent monitoring oversight by a regulatory body is necessary for enhancing local content and that is where the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority’s economic oversight becomes paramount.

This paper suggests a broad -based initiative to convene a stake-holders’ forum that will set out some policy guidance and directives which will ensure that aviation service providers and operators will have a high local-content participation. There should be a policy directive to ensure that 5 and 10 years after the issue of an aviation operators certification, 50–60% and 70–80%, respectively, of the management staff must be indigenous Ghanaians. There should be stipulation that the indigenous component of core technical staff should be 20% at the inception, 50–60% in 5 years, and 70–80% in 10 years.

Lastly, the indigenous component of other personnel should be 80% at the inception and 90% and 100% after 5 and 10 years, respectively. These policies will ensure that air operators are competitive to maintain a thriving business by developing local talent, building a base of competitive local suppliers, and delivering lasting socioeconomic benefits in their locus of business.

Human -Resource Development for the Ghanaianization Policy: Ghana Aviation University Project

As part of the policy on local-content participation, there should be a long-term national strategic focus on a to establish an aviation/aerospace collegiate program in an existing university or establish a new regional aeronautical university (with regional partners such as Nigeria, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Liberia) to assist in the training of skilled and competent human resources to support an anticipated growth in the aviation sub-sector in Ghana and the West African sub-region. A multi-sectoral approach between the Aviation, Defence and the Education Ministries can be sought to jump-start such a program.

A four-year Bachelor of Aeronautics (Flight, Airport Management and Airline Administration options) could be the degrees awarded during the inception stages of such a program and then later a Master of Business Administration (Airline operations and Airport Management options) explored. Currently the Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering offered by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, requires a heavy industry partnership that will ensure that conceptual basis align with real-life industry applications. The University of Ghana Business School and the U.G Aeronautics Department could handle the ground related aviation and business courses. The flight training component could be done at a re-vamped Afienya Flying Club Airstrip in collaboration with the Ghana Airforce and GCAA.

The School of Trade Training under the Ghana Airforce could also be upgraded and affiliated with the Aeronautics Department to offer undergraduate technical degrees (Bachelor of Science in Aviation Technology Management) in aerospace and aviation -related disciplines. The Ghana Civil Aviation Academy (GATA) is another training institution that can be upgraded to a collegiate-level and affiliated with one of the existing universities to award degree programs in aviation related disciplines. The flight certification oversight will be done by the GCAA, while the academic accreditation will be done by the National Accreditation Board.

Benefits of Such Local-Content Policies

  1. Contribution to local and national economy development and growth
  2. Long term planning is possible to achieve the desired growth in the aviation industry.
  3. Save money on expatriates training requirement.
  4. Avoid the risk of reverse migration.


  1. Government support should be increased for nationals pursuing their aviation studies in Ghana & abroad.
  2. National carriers and airports should support maximum initiatives to train the students practically and specialized on the job training ( OJT) programs.
  3. Job reservations with a competitive package for Ghanaians in the industry

Ghana News Agency:
Ghana Civil Aviation Authority:

Ghana Airport Company Limited:

International Air Transport Association:

L.I. 2204: Ghana’s Petroleum (Local Content and Local Participation Regulations, 2013.)

Tordo, S., Warner, M., Manzano, O., & Anouti, Y. (2013). Local content policies in the oil and gas sector. World Bank Publications
Qatar Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
Correspondence: [email protected]

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