The eighth edition of Africa-Indian Ocean (AFI) Aviation Week has resulted in the region’s governments agreeing to work more closely together on the implementation of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) aviation safety, security and sustainability standards and plans, with “high performing” States offering greater assistance to those that require the most support.
The event was hosted by the Government of Kenya and took place in Nairobi from 21 to 25 August 2023 with Council Representatives and other Representatives from both States and organizations in attendance.
In his opening remarks, ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano highlighted that the presence of “so many key representatives from States and international and regional organizations present at this meeting is a clear demonstration of the recognition of the importance of aviation to the sustainable development of nations, and of the need for all partners and stakeholders to work closely together to build synergies in Africa.”
Greater partnership around capacity building, particularly to support the next generation of aviation professionals (NGAP), was a cross cutting outcome of the event. States pointed to the “practical application” of the ICAO Aviation Training and Capacity-Building Roadmap and the significance of continuing support for ICAO training and workshops in priority areas. They recognized the significance of mobilizing resources under the No Country Left Behind initiative, and agreed that NGAP and gender equality objectives should be a crucial feature in national aviation planning.
The capacity of Africa’s air navigation systems was also addressed, with the States agreeing to request that the African Union Commission coordinate the establishment of a task force on “the seamless sky for Africa,” and to enhance their cooperation through Collaborative Decision Making (CDM). The digitalization of services was seen as a particularly important priority in this area.
To support partnership between States with “high” and “low” performing safety and security oversight capacities, the ICAO Regional Offices were requested to facilitate cooperation through regional mechanisms, with a special focus on the development of focus projects on achieving the targets set out in ICAO’s aviation safety and security global plans.
The ICAO Cyber Security Action Plan and the Aviation Safety Alliance for Africa (ASAA) initiative on the effective incident and accident data collection in Africa were seen as high priorities for governments, as was the ratification of the African (Malabo) Convention on cybersecurity and personal Data protection (2014).
Sustainability was recognized as an equally important priority, with the development of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) acknowledged as both playing a crucial role in the decarbonization of flight and an extremely promising catalyst for sustainable development in Africa.
States and other stakeholders were encouraged to join the ICAO Assistance, Capacity building and Training for SAF (ACT-SAF) Programme and take advantage of all the support initiatives provided under its umbrella. States were also encouraged to contribute actively to the upcoming Third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels, to be held in November 2023 in Dubai, from which a global framework for SAF investment and production is expected to emerge.
Governments acknowledged that the safe, secure, and sustainable development of African air transport would also require the full implementation of ICAO’s facilitation and air transport guidance, especially those around the liberalization of air services and on user fees, charges and taxes on aviation. States and stakeholders were encouraged to solicit the political will of leaders by promoting the benefits of fully implementing the Yamoussoukro Declaration Concerning the Liberalization of Access to Air Transport Markets in Africa, and to avoid protectionism.