NIGERIA’S embattled aviation sector appears to have won a much needed boost following a recent pledge by the US administration and Citibank to support infrastructural development plans.
As part of a programme to modernise the industry, avert the constant spate of plane crashes, upgrade facilities and attract more operators into the market, Stella Oduah, Nigeria’s aviation minister has put together a reformation plan known as the Aerotroploils project. She is currently leading a team of officials on a roadshow across the US to promote the plan and so far, it has been well received.
Citibank, the US Federal Airport Administration (FAA) and the US Department of Transportation have all endorsed the Aerotroploils project and pledged to be involved in the various phases of its implementation. Ray Mc Guire, Citibank’s head of global investment banking, said the project offers a huge opportunity for major infrastructural development.
He added that Citibank’s prepared analysis and roadmap for actualising the aerotropolis project objectives were consistent and in tandem with the model already adopted by the ministry and meets international standards and best practices. Mr McGuire said the financing, operational and execution modules that were explored and considered most practicable are exactly what the aviation ministry is adopting so far, including discussions about the most appropriate potential investors, collaborators and partners.
Also, Mr Mc Guire expressed optimism that with the bank’s huge client database, it would not be difficult to secure investors to buy into the project. He pledged the bank’s expertise in providing needed advisory services and financing to investors studying the investment opportunities under the aerotropolis undertaking.
At the US Department of Transportation, the Nigerian team met with the assistant secretary for international affairs, Julie Ottenberg and the FAA assistant administrator where the team was assured of their support, collaboration and partnership on infrastructure development, airport management systems and consumer protection initiatives.
They noted that with 3,300 public access airports in the US and over 200,000 flights per day to manage, their knowledge and experience will be quite helpful to their Nigerian counterparts and pledged their readiness to collaborate on necessary safety initiatives in Nigeria’s aviation industry. Anne Ene-Ita, the permanent secretary in the Nigerian aviation ministry, responded by identifying areas of capacity building as well as collaboration between American and Nigerian domestic carriers as areas of mutual benefit.