A financial consultant and economist, Daniel Amateye Anim, has added calls for the country to revive the national carrier as a matter of importance to boost the country’s economic fortunes.
Speaking to the B&FT in an interview ,Mr. Anim who is the Executive Director, Policy Initiative for Economic Development, Africa outlined three major reasons why the reviving of a national carrier is of prime importance. Firstly, he said the revival of a national carrier will reposition Ghana as the gate-way to the West Africa sub-region.
Secondly, it will create sustainable employment for hundreds of people, and lastly, will stabilise the local currency in the face of its volatility against the major trading currencies. The point that it will stabilise the national currency is what he harped on since the revival of the old routes which the erst-while Ghana Airways plied, would be re-opened and individuals travelling on the carrier would have to purchase tickets in US dollars, thus boosting the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
He said the revival of the national carrier is now more imperative than ever with the establishment of an Aviation Ministry, and operating a national carrier will give it the relevance it deserves.
He cited as a vivid example the fact that Rwanda has a national carrier which is bringing both crucial revenue and prestige to the young nation that has emerged recently from a civil war. Mr. Anim further stated that visa acquisition alone can bring in substantial revenue which all goes to stabilise the national currency, he opined.
Therefore, he believes it is in the right direction for the country to revisit the idea of reviving a national carrier because of the boost that it brings to economic activity in the country.
He observed that running a national airline is capital intensive and therefore there might be the need to partner with foreign interests that have the capital strength to undertake such a heavy investment but believes government participation is crucial to leverage the industry. He maintains that for good outcomes, it will be necessary to ensure that professionals play a crucial role in its management and that every Ghanaian, regardless of stature, must be made to purchase a ticket in cash when flying with the national carrier.
He buttressed government’s crucial role in running the national carrier by citing countries like Turkey and Ethiopia where the national airline has state control but are run strictly on business lines, hence their prominence in the global aviation industry.
Anim noted that traveling in the West Africa sub-region is increasingly becoming difficult for many and he believes the revival of Ghanair will reposition national pride with a national carrier plying the West African route.
The minister nominee for Aviation, Cecilia Dapaah, has hinted that Ghana will have its own national airline within the next two years.
The country has been without a national airline since 2010, when Ghana International Airlines ceased operation due to high indebtedness.
Cecilia Dapaah told Parliament’s Appointments Committee that findings from a feasibility study for a new national airline, will be assessed before a major decision is taken.
She said she was convinced the country is ready for a new national airline that will begin operations within the ECOWAS sub-region.