The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has listed too many handling charges, inadequate enlightenment programmes to galvanize the different supply chain in the air cargo transport system, inefficient packaging of export cargo to meet buyer’s standards and substandard and poorly preserved agricultural produces as some of the challenges of air cargo in Nigeria.
The Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, stated this at a recently concluded Aviation and Cargo symposium held in Lagos.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Act 2006, which he noted would soon be repealed and replaced by a new Act, empowers the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to regulate all forms of civil air transportation including the transportation of goods or cargo.
The new act, according to him, intends to capture new developments in the industry like new interventions and annexes, which take off regulatory functions from the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
“Nigeria’s airspace territorial area coverage (988,885km) is larger than the airspace of Ghana, Togo, and Benin Re- public put together. Nigeria is naturally endowed with Agricultural produce and a wide range of natural minerals of potentially high value.
“So, there is a need for aerial movement of goods and services within the country as a business. We all know that the road system for movement of goods (cargo)leaves much to be desired in terms of capacity, speed, and safety of cargo, particularly for perishable agricultural products,” he added.
The NCAA chief further disclosed that air cargo business in Nigeria has a lot of potential, especially in the time-sensitive cargo, but admitted that there are lots of fundamentals and backend arrangements to be put in place in compliance with NCAA regulations.
He reiterated that a lot of inter-agency/ministry cooperation is needed to make it worthwhile such as nature and condition under which the cargo is delivered for airlifting has to be considered.
Others are storage facilities at both departure and arrival must meet established standards including airport charges among others.
“We believe that all forms of traders and manufacturers together with farmers do not have a working knowledge of the benefits of air transportation, let alone considering the option of using it within the country. All we hear is the large-scale importation of goods into the country by foreign operators.
“Only one Nigerian registered air operator concentrates on cargo. Oftentimes these foreign air cargo planes return virtually empty,” he said.
Nuhu highlighted the contributions of air cargo business to the development of any economy which he stated cannot be over-emphasised.
To him, air cargo brings so many benefits such as helping with the speed of moving perishable items by air which is far better than road transportation. Sensitive cargo he also noted are better protected through air transportation; especially in Nigeria where the road system is simply deplorable.
He said: “It helps boost farming and the economy through the rapid conveyance of agricultural produce and increased farming activities. It boosts commerce as manufactured goods get to their markets quicker and in better conditions.
Goods carried by air are easily track-able due to the mandatory documen- tation required.”
A well-developed air cargo industry contributes to the GDP and the economic development of states.
There is a clear indication that air cargo throughputs contribute meaningfully to the nations’ GNI and GDP. Hence, air cargo throughputs may be a good variable to determine how the economy is performing.
Experts are of the view that the more import and export through the air transport, the better the economy.
In general, the air transport industry, including airlines and its supply chain, is estimated to support $600 million of GDP in Nigeria. In total, 0.4 per cent of the country’s GDP is supported by inputs to the air transport sector and foreign tourists arriving by air