The British High Commissioner to Accra, Mr Iain Walker, has called on Ghana to develop a robust aviation infrastructure to take full advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
He said although the AfCFTA presented an excellent opportunity for African countries to boost trade among themselves, Ghana stood the chance of making more gains by developing its aviation infrastructure to facilitate transportation and connectivity within the continent.
"The fact that the headquarters of the AfCFTA is to be sited in Ghana means that your country has a big advantage to boost trade, but for most of the trading activities to be successful, you need to be connected; so you need a strong and vibrant aviation industry," he said.
Mr Walker stated this during a courtesy call on the Minister of Aviation, Mr Joseph Kofi Adda, in Accra yesterday.
The visit was to explore ways in which the United Kingdom (UK) and Ghana could strengthen collaboration in the aviation industry.
Mr Walker said it was because of the important role the aviation industry played in promoting economic development that the UK was supporting Ghana to improve its infrastructure, particularly the Kumasi and the Tamale airport expansion projects.
“The new terminal building at the Kumasi Airport is being funded through UK Export Finance and we are doing that because there is the need to expand the capacity of those facilities. They offer the opportunity to get goods to markets quicker and also boost economic activities.
“In Tamale, we are looking to work with the government to extend the capacity of the airport for similar reasons because there are bigger opportunities in the agricultural sector that can be harnessed,” he added.
He said the UK was committed to ensuring that its economic relations with Ghana were not derailed through complacency.
"A relationship that is of complacency or taking each other for granted will not help us and so we will focus on a mutually beneficial relationship," he stressed.
Mr Adda described Ghana-UK bilateral relations as cordial and mutually beneficial, adding that the time had come to strengthen the ties, especially in the aviation sector.
According to him, the aviation industry was one of the top priorities of the government, for which reason a number of initiatives were being taken to build human resource and infrastructure in the sector.
"It is because of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s agenda to transform the aviation sector that he created the Ministry of Aviation.
There is a future for us to collaborate more to achieve this vision, and since you represent the UK and I also represent the Aviation Ministry, we can look at plans to boost the sector," he added.
He asked Mr Walker to impress on British Airways to improve on the quality of service it provided for passengers, particularly those on the UK-Ghana route, and also ensure that only quality aircraft was deployed on that route.
In February this year, the UK government pledged funds to undertake three major infrastructural projects in Ghana.
They are the Tamale Airport, the Bekwai Hospital and the Kumasi Central Market, which will undergo major expansion, construction or installation of essential equipment as part of the UK government’s partnership agreement with the government.
The UK’s Minister for Africa, Mr Harriet Baldwin, announced this at the end of the second UK-Ghana Business Council (UKGBC) meeting held in London, UK, on Tuesday, February 26, 2019.