He said the automation of check-ins, passport control and boarding, as well as the provision of free fast Internet services, had made spending time at some airports more convenient to passengers.President Akufo-Addo was speaking at the opening of the 28th Annual General Assembly and Regional Conference and Exhibition of Airports Council International (ACI) in Accra yesterday.
The two-day conference, which has brought together more than 400 experts, policy makers, investors, among other stakeholders in the aviation sector from around the world, is on the theme: “Smart airports of the future: Are we ready?”
The President said becoming a smart airport “imposes responsibility on African countries to incorporate cutting-edge technologies into the design and operations of airports in today's constantly changing technological world”.
He said Ghana’s Ministry of Aviation was to initiate a dedicated programme dubbed: ‘Aviation driven development’, which would use aviation as the driver for the social and economic transformation of the country.
That, he explained, would manifest in the construction, maintenance, overhaul and repair of facilities at the Tamale International Airport and the construction of a cargo facility, including an aviation training centre for the training of pilots, a state-of-the-art control tower at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), among other projects.He gave an assurance that airports in Ghana would continue to undergo systematic facelift, while new ones would be constructed to open up the country.
“The progress being made in the aviation sector is ample evidence of our commitment to collaborate and cooperate with all industry stakeholders to champion the cause of global and regional policies, such as the ‘No country left behind' initiative and a single African air transport market, to enhance safety and security in the industry,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo said the government was also developing the country’s aviation sector to make it more competitive and a hub in the sub-region.
He mentioned ongoing renovation works and the construction of new facilities at some airports in the country to include the construction of new aprons at the northern end of the KIA, as well as new passenger terminal buildings at the Kumasi and the Tamale International airports, and the rehabilitation of the Sunyani Airport.
According to him, the deliberate liberalisation of the regulatory framework in the aviation industry sector, coupled with the abolition of the 17.5 per cent value-added tax on the operations of domestic airlines, had led to a rise in domestic air passenger traffic.
The President said international passenger numbers had also grown by 6.7 per cent as of September 2019, compared to 2018, while air traffic movement jumped by 5.9 per cent within the same period.
Currently, he said, 38 airlines were operating in Ghana, connecting directly to 30 different destinations around the globe.
“It is not a surprise that 1.3 million tourists visited Ghana in 2017 and the industry contributed $2.7 billion to our GDP,” he added.
The Minister of Aviation, Mr Kofi Adda, said Ghana was recently recognised in Canada for its excellent safety and security records at its airports.
He said awards won by the nation in the sector and the selection of Ghana as the host of various international conferences were indicative of the progress it had made.
The Secretary-General of ACI Africa, Mr Ali Tounsi, said the safety and the comfort of passengers were the priority of the organisation.
He said even though the use of drones at airports had become a safety concern, if harnessed properly, drones could be used to secure airports.