One of the core objectives for the creation of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was to foster interstate economic cooperation in the region. In fact the “Treaty of Lagos” which gave birth to the regional body was described largely as an economic initiative before the scope was expanded to include other areas that would engender the growth and development of the region. According to a recent ECOWAS report, the total trade of the region has averaged $208.1 billion. Exports are projected at approximately $137.3 billion while imports total about $80.4 billion.
The report added, “The main active countries in trade are Nigeria, which alone accounts for approximately 76 per cent of total trade followed by Ghana, 9.2 per cent and Côte d’Ivoire, 8.64 percent. The trade surplus, estimated at about $47.3 billion is attributable to Nigeria ($58.4 billion) and Côte d’Ivoire ($3.4 billion) when all other Countries have a deficit in the trade balance.”
Apart from Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, other member-states have been largely invisible in the trade tag. One of the factors accounting for this, according to memberstates is poor connectivity within the sub-region. It is said that without nationals having the enablement to move about seamlessly from one country to another, the much talked about ECOWAS integration might be hindered.
It is on this premise that Med-View Airline Plc, launched an inroad into West African countries beginning with the Anglophone countries. They include Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone followed by Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Senegal which were added to its west coast network recently.
Amidst excitement from leaders of the three French-speaking nations, the Med-View Airline’s new generation B737-500 aircraft touched down at their international airports from Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos recently. All the ambassadors of the three countries were aboard the aircraft.
The Managing-Director of the airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole said the dream of the founding fathers of ECOWAS to integrate member-states and engender economic prosperities may continue to be a mirage without fast and efficient transport system.
Med-View, he reiterated, was poised to promote the regional integration through the flight services which he promised would be operated in a consistent and faithful manner.
Bankole disclosed that the airline has already opened offices in the West African countries and employed their nationals, assuring that the airlines would in the nearest future connect other countries including Mali, among others.
However, leaders of the countries pledged their support for the airline in the quest to bridge the connectivity gaps in the sub-region. They are hopeful that the improved connectivity was in tandem with the Yammassoukro Declaration (YD) of 1987 to bridge connectivity gap in the region.
The Senegalese Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Abubakar Samba, said trade relations between Nigeria and Senegal is very poor largely because of poor connectivity, assuring that the new service would boost inter-trade relations.
President Allassane Quattara of Côte d voire represented by the General Manager, Autorite Nationals de l’aviation civile (ANAC), the country’s civil aviation authority, Mr Sinaly Silue, expressed happiness that the airline’s services would reduce the ordeals of the citizens in flight connectivity, assuring that ECOWAS countries are on the verge of being fully liberalized in terms of air transportation.
Also, Badewole Johnson Adebowale, representative of Nigerian Ambasador to Côte d voire, described the operations as a success that would further strengthen trade ties between the two countries.
Ambassador of Guinea to Nigeria, Gaossou Toure, described Med-view as a dynamic airline capable of bringing the liberalisation of airspace to fruition.
Nigerian Ambassador to Guinea, Bala Mohammed Baniga said, “…The jinx that we cannot fly whenever we needed to do so has been broken by Med-View, I am proud today that we can fly our own, Med-View has broken the monopoly of foreign airlines, I solicit that Guineans emulate management of Med-view and also invest in Nigeria.”
Passengers alightening from an aircraft on arrival at the Dakar International Airport during the inaugural flight from Lagos-Abdjan-Conakry-Dakar