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Before Covid-19 reared its ugly head, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted that air passenger numbers in Nigeria will rise by 174% over the next two decades.
Its forecast came as no surprise to anyone familiar with the country’s runaway demographics. Nigeria already has the largest headcount of any African nation: 206 million citizens as of last year. With annual growth rates of 2.5%, The Lancet expects it to become the second most populated country in the world by the end of this century.
That will mean overtaking China, whose own population is set to nearly halve during the same period.
Yet, despite its rising fortunes, Nigeria is ill-prepared for the coming boom in aviation. There are currently no domestic airlines strong enough to compete on long-haul routes from the country, meaning the spoils of its growth are largely accruing to foreign operators...