The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD) have forged a new agreement to enhance the contribution of civil aviation to the social and economic development of the African Continent, and to promote related aviation infrastructure development and capacity-building in aid of sustainable air transport for Africa and Africans.

“Working cooperatively is, and has always been, fundamental to the aviation sector,” ICAO Council President Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, stressed.

According to him, “this new framework with NEPAD will allow us to effectively address the development and modernisation of quality aviation infrastructure in Africa, consistent with ICAO’s global and Africa regional planning and commensurate with the exponential traffic growth forecast here.”

The new ICAO/NEPAD Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will formalise and deepen the cooperation between these two organizations, contributing to the implementation of the

Declaration and Framework for a Plan of Action for Development of Aviation Infrastructure in Africa, which was adopted at the fourth ICAO World Aviation Forum in Abuja, Nigeria, last November.

Both organisations, the MoU stated, will now be working more closely together in facilitating the movement of persons and goods in Africa, mobilising resources for aviation infrastructure development,

implementing NEPAD’s “MoveAfrica” initiative for the aviation sector, developing e-commerce, and training and retaining next generation aviation professionals and promoting gender equity

on the continent.

“This collaboration will provide added value for both organizations and improve aviation infrastructure development in Africa,” said NEPAD CEO Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki. “It will help strengthen

NEPAD’s understanding of the aviation sector, and importantly help us to ensure the inclusion of aviation projects in the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA),” the ICAO boss added.

Meanwhile, ICAO has concluded its worldwide series of Regional Safety Management Symposiums and Workshops in Kigali, Rwanda in its bid to promote the use of   safety approaches by Member States in the African Regions.

“We have embarked on this Safety Management Symposium in order to help ensure that your governments are ready and able to optimise the full socio-economic benefits of forecast air

traffic growth, and to continue to develop safe, secure, efficient and sustainable aviation systems,”ICAO Council President Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, said.

Continuing, he stated that “no African country or economy should be left behind where this potential for future prosperity is concerned.”

ICAO’s AFI Regions comprise the 48 States accredited to its two Regional Offices in Nairobi and Dakar. Together, these countries represent a very complex and diverse aviation environmentwith varying levels of safety oversight performance.

With this latest series of safety management events, ICAO is helping African and other States globally to progress their transitions from reactive to predictive safety analysis and planning.

The Symposiums have also served to improve insight and awareness on key safety management concepts among aviation leaders, while exploring new guidance in ICAO’s soon-to-be released

4th Edition Safety Management Manual (Doc 9859, which will also feature a companion online information and sharing platform).

“It is important to recall that implementing safety management is not just about having a signed document or a manual: it is about the leadership and resources required to move towards a

proactive and data-driven approach to managing aviation safety,” President Aliu underscored.

According to him, the responsibility for State Safety Programmes and the delivery of a strategic, national safety vision, must be vested in the highest levels of State leadership.

While visiting Kigali, President Aliu had the opportunity to present Ambassador Claver Gatete, Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure, with a Council President Certificate for the commendable recent progress the State has made in meeting the Effective Implementation requirements measured by the ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP). Dr. Aliu was also pleased to conduct bilateral discussions later with Ambassador Gatete, in addition to the Hon. Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Minister of Aviation of Ghana, and Mr. Ninsao Gnofam, the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport of Togo.

During the discussions with Ambassador Gatete, Dr. Aliu highlighted the importance of civil aviation connectivity as an enabler of national development, especially in landlocked States like

Rwanda. He also emphasized the need to enshrine national aviation planning and investment targets in the State’s national development strategy. The President encouraged Rwanda to

strengthen regional and sub-regional cooperation, both in the East Africa Region and beyond, and suggested ICAO’s “No Country Left Behind” initiative could be looked at to help Rwanda

further improve its aviation safety and security oversight systems and address other air transport challenges being identified.

Dr. Aliu also highlighted the need for appropriate infrastructure to accommodate significant forecast aviation growth locally and regionally, and commended Rwanda for its recent investments to augment the capacities of Rwandair and the Bugesera International Airport. He remarked that these will help support the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and air connectivity more generally on the African continent, as will Rwanda’s commitment to champion the removal of visa requirements that support the African free trade area and freedom of persons more generally in Africa.

The President of the ICAO Council was accompanied during his mission in Rwanda by the ICAO Council Member for Kenya, Ms Mercy Awori, Chairpersons of the Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plans for Aviation Safety and Aviation Security and Facilitation in Africa (AFI Plan and AFI SECFAL Plan), Messrs. Moussa Halidou and Kabbs Twijuke respectively, the Deputy Director of Aviation Safety in ICAO’s Air Navigation Bureau, Mr. Catalin Radu, and by ICAO’s Regional Directors for Africa, Messrs. Barry Kashambo and Mam Sait Jallow respectively.