- Revenue Loss Looms Over Abuja Airport’s Closure
Ahead of the planned closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport runway, Abuja for repairs in February and March, there is a looming loss of revenue by the aviation sector.
Concerned stakeholders, who faulted the alternative provisions that include diversion of traffic to Kaduna airport, said the move would bring much discomfort to air travellers and foreign airlines especially, forcing many to temporarily quit air travel to the northern part of the country.
With airlines and passengers quitting the region, revenue accruing to the regulatory agencies and ancillary services will drop, making required operations further difficult.
The Abuja runway of 4000 metres-plus has been in a bad shape in the last couple of months and was in December 2016 penciled for repair at the cost of N1billion. At least three foreign airlines, including South African Airways, have had their wide-body aircraft damaged in the process of landing on the runway.
While the repair would last for at least six weeks, the Minister of State for Aviation announced that the runway would be closed and traffic diverted to Kaduna airport, from where buses will take passengers back to Abuja in a two-hour road journey.
The Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian Aviation Safety Initiative (NASI), Capt. Dung Pam, said though temporary closure of the runway was for safety concerns, the effects would be too huge on the already troubled sector.
Pam said that the Kaduna airport would not be able to cope with the traffic that would be coming in, in terms of all the fixed-wing aircraft.
He said: “It is going to be a serious dislocation of the nexus of our air travel system. Every major airport in the country connects to Abuja and Lagos. So, to have that place completely shut down for six weeks will be a huge blow to travelling public. They will be the ones that will be the worst of.”
The chairman recalled that the John F. Kennedy in New York, United States, one of the busiest airports in the world, does its maintenance at night when the traffic is least and never completely shut down a runway.
Aviation Security Consultant, Group Capt. John Ojikutu, said that the choice of Kaduna for air traffic diversion would scare most of the foreign airlines away.
Ojikutu said that with the security issues in the northern parts of the country, none of the American and European airlines will fly to Kaduna.
He said: “My only worry is that they want to use Kaduna for traffic and I ask the question, why can’t they use Minna? Minna may not be as good as Kaduna, but a 737 can land in Minna.
“For them to want to use Kaduna for foreign airlines, I have my doubts that the airlines will go there. It is for security reasons. The way security is built in the north is different from how we have built it here.
“If the people that are creating problems all over the place want to draw world attention to themselves, they will go to that place and create the problem. The Americans and European airlines have their minds on that. They do not want a situation where they would be brought into the conflicts, in such a way as they will be used as scapegoats. So, they would rather go to Lagos to land,” he said.
The Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, will on Thursday engage the industry’s stakeholders on issues arising from the proposed closure of the airport.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Sirika, who disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, said the meeting would afford him the opportunity to officially inform the sector’s players of the decision.
Meanwhile, despite the challenges facing the nation’s aviation sector, it has attained a higher level of rating which now places it among the world leaders in terms of safety.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) yesterday said that the country climbed to Level 3 in State Safety Programme (SSP) Implementation Process, and is now on the same rating with the United States of America, United Kingdom and other countries.
The development will boost stakeholders’ confidence in the industry, thereby increasing the business of the sector and bringing more revenue to airlines and government agencies.
The Spokesman of the apex regulatory body, Sam Adurogboye, explained that the categorisation was dependent on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) that tracks the SSP implementation process of member states via its Integrated Safety Trend Analysis and Reporting System (iSTARS).
“Member states in tandem, therefore, deploy this platform to undertake gap analysis, define their action plans and benchmark their progress. Only two member states–Australia and Sri Lanka–have achieved a full implementation of the SSP according to ICAO records. Nigeria is striving to achieve Level 4, which will be 100 per cent, by the end of 2017,” he said.
The SSP process is inaugurated in member countries in compliance with the ICAO requirements as contained in Annex 19 on Safety Management. Nigeria’s advanced level has put its SSP implementation process among those of states that have defined an action plan for all non-implemented gap questions.
Adurogboye said Nigeria had completed its gap analysis and implemented 43.6 per cent of the required SSP tasks.
“In addition, the country has developed a detailed action plan for the accomplishment of the outstanding tasks with an established and approved timeline.
“In pursuant of the above, Nigeria has commenced the implementation of the SSP processes and has achieved several milestones. These include the completion of the SSP gap analysis and the establishment of the Implementation Plan approved by the Director-General (DG) of NCAA.
“Other completed SSP tasks are the official authorisation of the D-G of NCAA as the accountable executive of the SSP and the designation of the NCAA as the placeholder organisation of the SSP in Nigeria by the Minister of State (Aviation), Hadi Sirika.”
Adurogboye said that with this achievement, the NCAA would continue to ensure that air transportation in Nigeria is seamless and secure at all times.
He, therefore, urged airline operators to adhere to all safety regulations as contained in the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs).
FG to Earn N462 Billion from Electronic Money Transfer Levy in 2021 – World Bank
The World Bank has said the Federal Government of Nigeria will earn an estimated N462 billion from electronic money transfer levy in 2021.
The leading multilateral financial institution disclosed in its ‘Resilience through Reforms’ report.
The Federal Government had introduced a levy on electronic money transfer in the Finance Act 2020 to take advantage of the growing electronic transfer in the country and up revenue generation.
The electronic money transfer levy is a single one-off charge of N50 on electronic fund transfer in any deposit money bank or financial institution on any type of account on sums of N10,000 or more.
Akpan Ekpo, the Chairman of the Foundation for Economic Research and Training, who spoke in a telephone interview voiced his concerns on the levy.
He said, “The levy is remitted to the government, which is fine. But I think the savers, the people who use the transfer channels, are over-levied. You pay maintenance fee, transfer fee, and I think if this level of levying continues, it will discourage people from using electronic channels.
“Personally, I think the EMT levy should be out of the Finance Act. There is too much burden on the citizens, although the government is making great money from it. Let us hope they use the money wisely, but it shouldn’t have been put there in the first place.
“It is a law now; there is nothing that can be done about it. But I hope it is used wisely, and they would be transparent about how the money is being used.”
Akpan said the EMT levy would discourage individuals outside the formal banking net.
He said, “With the EMT levy, more people are discouraged from using the banks and its services. A lot of Nigerians sell in rural areas, and are outside the financial system net.
“With the EMT, more people are further excluded. There really was no need to introduce the EMT; it will discourage those who are not already in the formal banking sector from even coming into it. It is likely to further deepen the financial exclusion of many Nigerians.”
Hope PSBANK Collaborates With FG To Create 100 Jobs In Each Local Government
Hope Payment Service Bank, a subsidiary of Unified Payment Services Limited and Nigeria’s premier digital bank is collaborating with the Federal Government through the Ministry of Labour and Productivity to create jobs for no fewer than 77,400 people across the country.
The employment opportunity is part of the exit strategy of the Federal Government’s Special Public Works Programme being executed alongside the bank by empowering 100 Nigerians in each of the 774 local governments.
Speaking at the official kick-off of the collaboration, the Managing Director, Hope Payment Service Bank, Mr. Ayotunde Kuponiyi noted that the digital bank serves as an enabling platform that would interface with 77,400 beneficiaries selected from the Special Works Programme of the FG to exit them into self-employment.
Kuponiyi stressed that the focus of the collaboration is geared towards empowering beneficiaries through the agency banking platform in carrying out financial services such as account opening, bills payments, fund transfer, cash in/cash for Nigerians while they earn commission in return with just the use of their smartphones.
According to him, this initiative comes at no cost to the beneficiaries as they can use their phones to carry out agency banking activities for which they earn commissions on each activity carried out. “Once on board, these beneficiaries will become HOPE PSBANK agents. They will undergo training on the various activities by the bank at no cost to them”, he added.
“We are very excited about this collaboration with the Ministry, which is in line with the thrust of the social objectives of Hope Payment Service Bank – poverty reduction through financial inclusion and diffusion of digital financial services”, he said.
Airtel Partners AXA Mansard, Unveils Mobile Health Insurance via USSD
Airtel Nigeria and AXA Mansard, have entered a strategic partnership to deepen access, participation and enrolment in health insurance for more Nigerians.
The partnership by Airtel and AXA Mansard is in response to the Federal Government’s goal, through the National Health Insurance Scheme, to provide easy access to healthcare for all Nigerians by leveraging on the USSD channel, an easy-to-use and interactive platform.
By dialing the shortcode, *987*7#, Airtel customers can now conveniently enroll for affordable and robust health insurance plans from AXA Mansard, with access to over 1,000 hospitals nationwide for quality healthcare services.
Commenting on Airtel’s partnership with AXA Mansard on the Mobile Health Insurance, the Head Mobile Financial Services, Airtel Nigeria, Muyiwa Ebitanmi, said the mobile health insurance initiative demonstrates Airtel’s commitment to providing innovative and relevant solutions that will empower more Nigerians to conveniently access best-in-class health insurance value offerings.
“Airtel Nigeria is always exploring innovative ways and platforms that will make life easier, more meaningful and more enjoyable for Nigerians. With this initiative, we are not just delivering bespoke health insurance services to the doorstep of more people, we are also leading a quiet revolution that will drive and deepen health insurance inclusion by removing the many barriers that have hitherto excluded many well-meaning Nigerians from participating in the sector.”
Speaking about the Mobile Health Insurance initiative, the Head, Emerging Customers and Digital Partnerships Group at AXA Mansard, Mr. Alfred Egbai, stated that “our research has shown the value and importance of having a health insurance plan to the public especially for the emerging customers in the country, but for many reasons, the uptake of insurance products has been low”.
He continued, “In order to mitigate these challenges and satisfy the health needs of the retail consumer whilst also encouraging the uptake of health insurance in the country, we have partnered with Airtel Nigeria to provide a solution that gives users a convenient way to purchase and manage their AXA Mansard micro-insurance plans.”
Malaria Cover, Inpatient, Outpatient, Specialist medical consultations, Immunizations, Family planning, Ambulance services, Dental care and more are some of the covers provided in the AXA Mansard Health plans.
“The challenges to the implementation of health insurance schemes hitherto include a low level of awareness, affordability, ineffective distribution systems and inefficient payment models.
“The partnership between Airtel Nigeria and AXA Mansard is aimed at solving these challenges and assisting Nigerians to access a viable Health Insurance Scheme,” he said
Airtel Nigeria, as a socially responsible organization, will continue to partner with industry leaders to bring products and services that will touch the lives of its subscribers in very positive ways.
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