The Nigerian High Commissioner to The Gambia, Oluwasegun Ibidapo-Obe, has said the opening up of direct flight between Lagos and Banjul by Air Peace would go a long way in strengthening bilateral trade relations in both countries.
Ibidapo-Obe, who spoke at a ceremony in Banjul to mark the airline’s Lagos-Banjul inaugural flight lamented that poor air connectivity between African countries, posed a serious threat to trade and commerce in the subregion.
“Penetration by Nigerian businesses into The Gambia has been severely hampered by transportation. At the formal level, where we have a lot of Nigerian products exported here legally under the ECOWAS treaty, it’s in the region of $12-$13 million to the advantage of Nigeria. But this is still not an impressive figure,” said Ibidapo-Obe.
“At the informal level, we have a lot of Nigerians doing business in The Gambia. And again, you get worried by the fact that it takes 72 hours (three days) to travel by road from Nigeria to The Gambia. And these guys pass through five different borders with a lot of immigration hassles and obstacles. But with this direct air connectivity, it is now going to be possible for movements and also to freight goods through cargo between Lagos and Banjul,” he added.
Ibidapo-Obe noted that The Gambia had a lot of potential waiting to be tapped by Nigerians and expressed optimism that this would improve due to the connectivity being provided Air Peace.
Chairman of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema, in his speech at the event acknowledged that seamless air connectivity was pivotal to the socio-economic development of countries within the Economic Community For West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region.
He noted that the airline was committed to unlocking the economies of West Africa by offering air travellers on business and leisure trips seamless connectivity, as well as create jobs for the people.