Harnessing strategic cooperation and creating an enabling environment have been identified as pivotal factors to drive growth and development of Nigeria’s aviation industry.
This was the consensus of stakeholders at a recent interactive aviation session organized by Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, a member of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, in Lagos. The session attracted players across the aviation spectrum, including aircraft manufacturers, airlines, investors, pilots, lessors, bankers, insurers, engineers, travel agencies, air travellers and aviation service companies.
Demola Sogunle, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, said Stanbic IBTC realized the correlation between a vibrant aviation industry in Nigeria and economic growth hence took up the initiative to support the development of the sector, in collaboration with other stakeholders. He added that some of the areas where the Bank can offer financial service solutions are aircraft financing and leasing, advisory services, asset financing, aviation infrastructure development, and capacity building.
Sogunle noted that Standard Bank Group, to which Stanbic IBTC belongs, has over 155 years of banking experience in Africa and has been active in supporting the development of industries across the continent. The Group, he reiterated, boasts of leaders in different market segments, in affirmation of its status as an end-to-end financial services solutions provider. In addition, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC is the only financial institution in Nigeria with the AAA rating by global rating firm, Fitch Ratings. He also stated that the strategic alliance between the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Standard Bank has the clout and resources to support the Nigerian aviation sector to overcome its current challenges. ICBC holds20 percent stake in Standard Bank, while the latter owns 64.4 percent in Stanbic IBTC. “When we say Africa is our home, we mean every word of it. Supporting the continent’s development is a task we take very seriously”, Sogunle stated.
Also at the session was keynote speaker and Chief Executive Officer, African Aviation Services, Nick Fadugba, who spoke against the backdrop of Africa’s below par performance in air transportation. He highlighted three key ingredients that will be helpful in halting the trend; these are having strong airlines, hub airports and an enabling environment. These steps will improve connectivity and convenience, increase safety and aviation infrastructure, as well as enhance competition, drive down costs and raise efficiencies.
Achieving this will not be a walk in the park, but it requires hard work by all stakeholders.
It was noted that although South Africa Airways, Ethiopian and Kenya Airways are Africa’s three biggest airlines, Emirates is bigger than the three put together – hence the need to provide every support necessary for the industry. For a continent with 15 percent of the global population, Africa offers immense opportunities in air travel, but unfortunately 90 percent of its air traffic is conducted by foreign airlines.
While thanking Stanbic IBTC Bank for being the first Nigerian bank to organize an aviation-specific conference, Fadugba emphasized that building a safe, secure and efficient aviation industry in Nigeria and Africa requires the cooperation of stakeholders in such areas as joint training, repair and overhaul (MRO), spares pooling, joint operations, interlining, and code-sharing. Other requirements include over-hauling the current business models, raising more capital, abiding by financial and lease obligations and always consulting expert advice.
The session also had a panel discussion that featured Sales Director, Middle East & Africa, Embraer Commercial Aviation, Gad Wavomba; National President, National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents, Bankole Bernard; Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria, Captain Nogie Meggison; Vice President, Marketing, Nordic Aviation Capital, Sasha Yusufali; Regional Director, International Air Transport Association (IATA), Funke Adeyemi; and Nick Fadugba. The segment was anchored by Stanbic IBTC’s Bolatito Ajibode.