African Aviation: Africa Needs to Improve on Aviatioon Data Gathering

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is decrying poor aviation data on its aviation sector but this is not just a Nigerian problem but a problem facing the African aviation sector as a whole. The authority says that the data showing annual passenger traffic emanating from the agencies in the country are mostly contradicting and unreliable.

 The Director General for NCAA Dr Harold Demuren has stated that aviation statistical committee gathering was to appraise the statistics of aviation agencies and parastatals which handle data collection and use them to reliably enhance the role of statistics in the formulation of policy as well as planning. 

Accroding to Demuren, the Nigerian aviation industry has changed significantly in the past 10 years and liberalisation has taken place in almost every aspect of the industry leading to rapid development. The Nigerian government-owned airline has been replaced by privately owned ones; Nigeria has inadequate and ageing infrastructure resulting from lack of funding and lack of continuity in policy which have plagued airports, air navigation services and handling agencies but these are now being addressed.

The director has lamented that despite the importance of statistical data in the sector, the data given by agencies in the Nigerian aviation industry are contradictory.

In  2010 for example, figures gathered by Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, which recorded data for total arriving and departing domestic passengers from the 21 airports  was 5,648,931 and 5,632,406 respectively, while  international arriving passengers  was 1,661,072 and 1,587,879 for international departures respectively,  totalling 14,530,288 passengers on flights departing and arriving Nigeria.
But the figures according to FAAN on the other hand, recorded 2,147,937 international embarking passengers and 5,344,346 embarking domestic passengers while disembarking passengers stood at 1,648,479 passengers for the international sector and 5,392,374 for domestic, giving an overall total of 13,983,136 passengers for 2010.  A difference of almost 600,000 passngers, who were unaccounted for by FAAN. The disparity is not acceptable to both industry stakeholders and the travelling public as it raises credibility and accuracy questions in the data gathered by FAAN.

Also, even  though aviation safety has improved significantly in the country, Nigerian aviation sector has nevertheless continued to be in a critical state requiring huge investments and which African countries find difficult to meet.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Africa recorded an accident rate of 7.41 accidents for every million flights in 2010. While this was an improvement over the 9.94 accidents per million flights recorded in 2009; this record remains the worst among the world’s regions. In spite of that, data provision even in the case of accidents in Africa is still unreliable. It's common for many international research institutes and aviation analysts to avoid using data from Africa since the data is unreliable and inconsistent. Many studies on the growth of global aviation do not even factor in Africa, in spite of the gains made in the region's skies in the recent past.

Data given by many African civil aviation authorities is not consistent and accurate, and in some cases, the data is even manipulated. It's importaht for Africa's and Nigeria's authorities to improve data gathering and generate accuarate, harmonized, reliable data that can be used not only in planning but by the global aviation fraternity.
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