Stories by Louis Ibah
Do you want to airfreight goods out of Nigeria? If yes then, it is imperative to know that export of goods outside Nigeria, especially perishable goods, could be a veritable source of income for hundreds of Nigerians grappling with the ongoing economic recession.
The perishable cargo export industry has been likened to an untapped goldmine given the financial benefits it could offer to investors. Nigeria is richly endowed with lots of fresh goods currently in demand in Europe, which investors in the business can easily export and make money from. Products like pumpkin leaves, fresh ginger and garlic, white and red sweet potatoes, washed bitter leaf, water leaf, plantain, okra are in demand outside Nigeria. And airfreight appears to be the safest means of exporting these perishable goods.
Experts say Nigeria could be raking in an estimated $52 billion annually from the United Kingdom (UK) alone, if the full potential of the perishable cargo export industry is harnessed. “Assuming one million out of over three million Nigerians living in the UK alone make purchases of food items exported from Nigeria at the cost of $100 weekly, even with the current exchange rate, Nigeria cannot make less than $52 billion from this sub-sector annually.
“That’s the projection,” said Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ABX World Nigeria, Captain John Okakpu. But sadly, there are so many Nigerians out there who have the dream of making a living out of exports but don’t know how to go about it.
Cargo Export Manager for the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (Nahco), Joke Ojeleye, told Daily Sun, that there is no myth about airfreight if only prospective exporters had the awareness on what to do.
Ojeleye offers some of these tips that may prove useful for prospective exporters. It’s a long process that usually demands a lot of patience from exporters, she said.
The first step is to get in contact with a registered or licensed customs agent. Such an agent is in a better position to counsel the prospective exporter on what to do and what not to do. Hiring the services of a registered agent usually proves to be the best option for starters if costly mistakes are not to be made. The agent knows the items that can be airfreighted to specific countries and those banned or considered as contraband in some countries, and they also know the airlines most suitable for some routes. The agent has a licence and will only charge an agency fee for his services.
But with time, every new exporter grows with experience and can double as exporter and agent, thus bypassing the agent. But he or she must be able to fulfil the conditions required to be registered as a licensed customs agent. Exporters must also make efforts to visit the airline they intend to airfreight their goods to be convinced they meet the airline’s requirements. Most airlines’ charges drop as the volume of goods increases.
Ojeleye said about eight agencies have to inspect and certify that goods meant for export meet the requirements of receiving countries. Some of the agencies include National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Customs, Quarantine, among others. Once these regulatory agencies okay the goods, ground handling firms like Nahco and Sahcol are then invited to take over and commence the next phase of pre-shipment exercises on behalf of the airlines chosen by the exporter.
At this stage when Nahco takes over the cargo, what it really wants to do is to ascertain the weight, quantity, dimension, packaging and the physical condition of the cargo to ensure it will be acceptable by the carrier or airline. The goods are also subjected to x-rays and Explosive Tracking Device (ETD) checks in line with international standards to be sure they are not substances that can explode and endanger the lives of aircraft crew.
Where the goods pass all such checks, a slip is issued to the consignee to take to the airline for the payment and generation of the “Air Way Bills”. Such a good is thereafter moved into a sterile area at the cargo section of the airport and is loaded into the aircraft for onward delivery abroad.
“It’s not a very difficult business venture and just anyone with the passion for export business can embark on it,” said Ojeleye. “We are helping a lot of Nigerians and will continue to help more, but they have to take the first step,” she added.
NCAA issues new financial regulations for domestic airlines
Operators in Nigeria’s domestic airline industry have been ordered to clean up their books or face severe sanctions as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) steps up its financial regulatory duties for the industry.
This followed widespread allegation of graft, and mismanagement of funds by managers of local airlines which led to many of the airlines operating without profits, owing banks, service providers in the industry as well as several months of unpaid salaries and allowances to workers.
Experts project that for the year ended 2016, most of the airlines may end up declaring neither profits nor dividends for investors. At present, local airlines are said to be indebted to the NCAA, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), and Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) to the tune of over N47billion.
But for 2017, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), says airlines would be subjected to more stringent and periodic financial audit. The trend marks a huge departure from previous regulatory functions of the NCAA which was focused predominately on the safety operations of the airlines, their crew and the airports.
“We will increase our safety oversight to sustain zero accident in the aviation sector. We are reviewing and strengthening economic regulations and airline operational books are to be sighted with increased regularity and appropriate sanctions will be applied,” said Director General of the NCCA, Captain. Muhtar Usman in a release made available to Daily Sun. The new policy makes it mandatory for airlines to allow the NCAA inspect their financial books to ascertain that airlines were run in line with best practices as it concerns accountability. “We will move to ensure airlines’ compliance with Nigerian civil aviation regulations, all outstanding debts must be paid, while passenger comfort will remain paramount to us,” he added.
Usman said at present, the NCAA was engaged in robust regulation,proficient safety oversight, increased surveillance on all certificate holders in the industry, daily ramp inspection, and spot check inspection on maintenance facilities all geared at zero accident rates in the industry.
Omni Helicopters seals JV deal with Nigerian firm
Omni Helicopters International (OHI) has sealed a Joint Venture (JV) deal with a Nigerian firm, BluAviation Limited for the launch and development of a new airline, Omni Helicopters Nigeria (OHN). Founder of Omini Helicopters International, Capt. Rui Almeida, at a press conference in Lagos over the weekend said under the joint venture deal, about 10 helicopters would be supplied to OHN for operations in Nigeria’s offshore oil and gas sector.
He said the bulk of the workers for the new company would be Nigerians, especially the pilots. OHI is a Portugal-base investor in helicopter operations. It is the leading provider of helicopter services for offshore operations in Brazil. “The joint venture iscrafted to meet the demanding standards in offshore aviation as well as the local content requirement in Nigeria’s oil and gas market,” said Almeida.
“We are familiar with Nigeria and understand the standards of oil and gas clients, having sorviced many of these clients in Brazil already,” he added. He said Omni Helicopters Nigeria will make use of Omni Helicopters International technical capabilities and strong service reputation. “This alliance will help Nigeria’s offshore aviation to access resources that will lead to the introduction of new aircraft technologies and safety systems and in turn boost investment, and training of Nigerians pilots,” he added.
Managing Director of Omni Helicopters Nigeria, Captain Sunny Adegbuyi in his speech said the partnership “will benefit the broader Nigerian aviation sector and impact the overall Nigerian economy by elevating local capabilities and promoting increased employment, professional development and sustainable competition.”“We have known the founders of Omni Helicopters International for two decades and hold them in high esteem. We are delighted to partner with them to meet the rising demands of the Nigerian offshore aviation market,” he added.
MMA2 wins most functional airport terminal award
Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2), Lagos, has won the Most Functional Airport Terminal Award for 2016.
The terminal, operated by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), was adjudged the best by Nigerians who responded to the calls of the Nigerian Aviation (NIGAV) Awards Committee to nominate winners for the various categories of its awards organised by IFC International Limited, an aviation consulting firm.
Other awards won by airlines operating at MMA2 include the Best Airline of the Year (Medview Airlines) and the Best Customer Service Airline of the Year (Dana Air).
The MMA2 award was presented to BASL at a colourful ceremony in Lagos recently.
While receiving the award on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company, Captain Jari Olubunmi Williams, the Head of Corporate Communication’s, Chief Stephen Omolale, said it was a reward for hardwork and commitment to excellence by the operator of MMA2.
According to him, “despite the harsh environment in which we operate, engendered by the non-respect of our concession agreement by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), which has led to enormous loss of revenue, “we will continue to ensure that we provide the best for all our airlines, passengers and visitors alike.
“We will continue to toil day and night to make sure that MMA2 remains the benchmark to measure other airport terminals,” he added.