The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has put measures in place to make Nigeria a major player in cargo freighting, create more jobs for Nigerians in the sub-sector and boost its revenue from cargo imports and exports.
Nigeria’s economy is described as import oriented because with over 200 million population, the country depends more on imported goods than products manufactured locally and that means huge demand in forex for imports, but ironically international carriers and others benefit more from goods import into the country than Nigerians.
Nigeria also has so much to export and earn revenue but these potential exports have remained unexploited and there are so many barriers put on the way to fully take advantage of the benefits in export and import of cargo through the nation’s airports.
This unfavourable scenario is what FAAN has moved to correct by ensuring that Nigeria maximally benefits from cargo freighting and to also boost Nigeria’s export and galvanise the opportunities offered by the sub-sector.
This was the reason the Managing Director and Chief Executive of FAAN, Captain Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu, on December 4, 2022 inaugurated Aviation Cargo Road Map Development Committee to drive the agency’s objectives towards the development of the sub-sector.
Yadudu explained that the decision to set up the Committee was prompted by FAAN management to address the challenges identified to be hindering the agency’s capacity in processing enough cargo freighting at the nation’s airports.
Before inaugurating the committee late last year, he observed that the challenges facing cargo freighting in Nigeria “were articulated in the Communique issued at the end of the first Aviation and Cargo Conference in 2021, codenamed “CHINET ’21 and reechoed in CHINET 2022.”
“I am happy today, because these challenges were identified by the various organisations represented in this Committee, I am about to inaugurate. My happiness is doubled or even tripled because looking at the array of names that constitute the membership of this Committee, I have no doubt, we made the right choices,” he said.
Yadudu expressed hope that the committee would drive the development of implementable Aviation Cargo Road Map that would address the identified challenges with a view to moving the cargo business from the current level to a desired sustainable level in the short to long-term.
The FAAN boss expressed the desire that the Road Map address the ways by which Nigeria’s aviation cargo processing and facilitation would increase in volumes to rank the country among the first or at least the second in Africa before or by the year 2027.
“Currently, we are in the fifth position in Africa, having facilitated only 204, 649 tons of cargo in 2021. The first airport facilitated only 363,204 tons in the same year. And in domestic cargo we facilitated only 8,895 tons in 2021.
“By our projections of 25 per cent on year-on year incremental basis, we expect to be ranked first or second in Africa by or before the year 2027. With you, certainly, we can achieve this,” he said.
Yadudu disclosed that most administrative bottlenecks to cargo freighting advancement identified by the various organisations in the sub-sector were being considered at the ministerial level.
“I can assure you that administrative challenges already identified will be rectified for more efficiency in our operations and logistics,” he assured.
He gave the terms of reference for the actualisation of the Road Map to include: to articulate action plans that meet international best practices and assign timelines for facilitation of cargo processing at our airports and to articulate guidelines that meet international best practice for Public-Private Partnership in developing modern cargo infrastructures and facilities for optimum air-cargo facilitation that meets destination country’s standard.
Yadudu also wanted the committee to articulate programmes and incentives that will encourage mass participation of local airlines in domestic cargo facilitation; to articulate mechanisms that would bridge the turn-around time in cargo facilitation; to articulate solutions to lack of adequate insurance coverage in the cargo value chain and to proffer any other suggestions that might help to achieve the desired goal in cargo business at the nation’s airports.
Yadudu who expected the committee to present its report within the first quarter of 2023, appointed Ambassador Ikechi Uko as the coordinator.
Currently cargo freighting in Nigeria is dominated by international carriers that feed the cargo in the belly of their passenger aircraft or airlifted by cargo freighters, but Nigeria is yet to take advantage of its potential to export many products from the country, from farm produce to so many others that are demanded by Nigerians in Diaspora and others.
So there are many challenges the Committee must find their answers in the short time given to it to deliver. These include what Nigeria produces for export.
Other questions include what are the existing markets for Nigerian products? What are the challenges with production? Why do Nigeria exports not meet destination requirements? How can Nigeria increase production? What is the possibility of transforming Nigeria’s raw materials currently being exported?