BUSI­NESS

Weekly Trust - - Interview - Ab­dul­la­teef Aliyu, La­gos

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

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