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ICAO SG highlights continued progress as key to Africa’s aviation development

Liu concluded the "AFI Week" series of events

ICAO Secretary General (SG) Fang Liu concluded the UN aviation agency’s 2018 ‘AFI Week’ series of events last week, reaffirming that the continent has now established the necessary partnership and policy foundations to help African States realize the full socio-economic potential of future air transport growth.

ICAO’s Fifth AFI Aviation Week was opened on 16 July by the Prime Minister of Niger, Brigi Rafini. It was attended by over 200 participants from 41 States and 20 international and regional organizations, and this year comprised the Fifth AFI Aviation Safety Symposium, the Third Aviation Security and Facilitation Symposium, the Seventh Meeting of Directors General of Civil Aviation in the AFI Region (AFI DGCA), and meetings of the steering committees responsible for the implementation of the regional plans for aviation safety, security and facilitation.

She set the tone for progress in her opening remarks at the AFI Week Grand Opening ceremony, stressing that air connectivity is a unique and indispensable catalyst for socio-economic growth that links remote areas to cities, cities with the world, and goods and services with the global market place.

Highlighting recent landmark achievements towards amplifying these contributions, Liu applauded the official launch of the Single African Air Transport Market earlier this year, which will offer the opportunity to unlock increased connectivity and the value it delivers, as well as significant progress on compliance with ICAO standards and recommended practices (SARPs), notably through the implementation of the UN aviation agency’s global plans and AFI Regional Plans.

She encouraged AFI States to continue to work together to strengthen and make use of cooperative mechanisms such as Regional Safety Oversight Organizations (RSOOs), given the significant challenges that remain ahead.

She urged participants to focus their efforts during the week on issues related to supporting States that have challenges and needs identified in implementing Annex 17 Standards and the security-related provisions of Annex 9 Facilitation. She encouraged the establishment of mechanisms to enhance the involvement of African experts in resolving deficiencies such as those identified during ICAO aviation security audits.

At the same time, Liu updated the AFI States on the UN High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies held at the end of June where it was recognized that aviation remains a key target for terrorists. Aviation security, notably in the context of ICAO’s Global Aviation Security Plan (GASeP), can thus play a very critical role in limiting terrorist mobility and threats.

Regarding the need for African States to increase capacity in order to safely and efficiently manage forecast growth in flights and passengers, Liu noted that the adoption of the Declaration and Framework for a Plan of Action for Development of Aviation Infrastructure in Africa at last year’s third ICAO World Aviation Forum (IWAF/3) provided significant momentum toward related progress.

ICAO will continue to provide technical expertise and support the implementation of the action plan in close cooperation with the African Union (AU) Commission, the Planning and Coordination Agency of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Acknowledging that the progress achieved to date has been enabled by the tremendous cooperation among ICAO Member States, the generosity of donor States, and the crucial participation of a wide variety of industry and intergovernmental stakeholders, the Secretary General confirmed that

While in Niger she discussed all of these themes in greater local detail during a one-on-one meeting with the President and Head of State of Niger, HE Isouffou Mahamadou. She also met with the President of Niger’s Parliament, Hon. Tinni Ousseini, and presented a plaque of gratitude to Niger’s Minister of Transport, Mahamadou Karidio, for hosting AFI Week 2018. Additional bilaterals were conducted in Niger with representatives of various States, organizations and aviation partners who were present in Niamey for the week’s events.

During her audience with the President, Liu congratulated the State on the significant progress achieved and efforts being made to improve and modernize airport infrastructure. She also thanked the State for hosting the 5th Edition of the AFI Aviation Week.

While stressing the need for Government’s strong support for the aviation sector, and continuous compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) as a means of improving connectivity, an important consideration for a land-locked country such as Niger in terms of accessing the benefits of aviation as a catalyst for economic development, SG expressed satisfaction with the cooperation between ICAO and Niger.

The Head of State agreed to continue to make aviation a priority in a multi-modal context in both bilateral and other cooperation partnerships and to seek ICAO’s assistance in conducting Air Transport Economic analysis and development of a national aviation Master Plan.

The SG held further bilateral discussions on state-specific issues with the Directors General of Civil Aviation of the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Guinea (Conakry), South Sudan and the United Republic of Tanzania, encouraging the States to increase their commitment and cooperation to further improve the level of aviation safety and security .

On the final day of AFI Week, the Seventh Meeting of Directors General of Civil Aviation in the AFI Region (AFI DGCA) was convened. The Directors General of Civil Aviation of AFI States reviewed policy matters and the outcomes of recent global and regional events to ensure coordinated and harmonized implementation of international standards and recommended practices. Progress on the implementation of the Regional targets including the revised Abuja Safety Targets incorporating Air Navigation and Windhoek security targets was also reviewed.

The AFI Aviation Week setting also provided ICAO with an opportunity to congratulate representatives of several States present, for their improved level of compliance with ICAO SARPs through increased levels of Effective Implementation, and resolution of Significant Safety and Security Concerns. The occasion was also used to release the Fourth Edition of the Annual Safety Report of the AFI Regional Aviation Safety Group (RASG-AFI).

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