ICAO’s Infrastructure Forum in Africa points to the US’ focus on aviation on that continent

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ICAO’s third annual World Aviation Forum highlights global scope of aviation infrastructure challenges 

 Meeting focuses on Africa’s Aviation Infrastructure Needs

 US needs to up its International Game in Africa and at ICAO

ICAO conference leaders

ICAO Council President Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu (left) and the UN agency’s Secretary General, Dr. Fang Liu (right), with Nigeria’s Minister of State, Aviation, the Honourable Hadi Sirika. ICAO took advantage of the important Abuja event to highlight civil aviation’s pressing infrastructure modernization challenges to the 800+ participants who attended the very first World Aviation Forum held outside its Headquarters. IWAF/3 was hosted in 2017 by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with additional support from the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the Planning and Coordinating Agency of the AU’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

For the first time, ICAO held its  World Aviation Forum (IWAF/3) away from Montreal. The 2017 event was held in Abuja, Nigeria. In attendance were more than 500 high-level participants from governments, development banks and international organizations placing renewed global focus on aviation development and infrastructure modernization priorities.

The theme of the Abuja meeting was titled “Financing the Development of Aviation Infrastructure.” The speakers highlight the benefits of the aviation sector to the economies of Member States. These explanations are intended to serve as a catalyst for discuss ions about the countries’ needs. In the past, past Forums have stimulated the funding and financing needed for investment in aviation infrastructure projects. Then, the Forum participants focused on financing challenges facing aviation infrastructure and capacity development in Africa.

ICAO Council President Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu emphasized the massive investments needed to address airport and air navigation infrastructure requirements globally. He stated that “[i]t is estimated that the global investment needs for airport infrastructure will be 1.8 trillion dollars over the next 15 years. But we must also acknowledge that air transport development projects today receive barely five percent of Official Development Assistance globally, and that this total greatly underestimates their potential socio-economic returns.”AfDB


President Aliu added that “[t]he positive impacts of air transport today on nations, societies and businesses are as numerous as they are substantial, and in light of the forecast growth of flight traffic worldwide, aviation’s economic benefits and opportunities are also expected to double in magnitude in the coming decades,” he noted. “This explains why aviation infrastructure and human resources development are such high priorities for governments today, and in every world region.”

As part of her closing IWAF/3 remarks, ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu remarked that a credible means of planning and implementation are urgently required to manage future air transport traffic growth safely, securely and efficiently. “I cannot stress strongly enough how important this planning is to the benefits you expect to be generated and captured by your State, and that continued development in aviation infrastructure capacity and technological innovation is critical to our desired outcomes,” Africa-map-Infrastructure-Financing-2013she said. “This in turn requires substantial modernization investments over the long term, and an expansion of aviation capacity in all States consistent with ICAO’s growth forecasts and Global Plans.”


By the start of 2018, it can be expected that a new Administrator will be in place at the FAA. The past occupant of that chair established an international strategy and that policy placed the Caribbean high on the priorities. This ICAO conference and other Administration analyses may cause the new FAA head to review the countries meriting focus.

Adjunctly, as this Conference shows, a high level US participation at ICAO is important to achieve US aeropolitical goals. The position of US Ambassador to ICAO has been vacant for a while. Since the departure of that individual, the chair has been filled by an able Chargé d’Affaires. An imminent nomination for that position would be well advised! NOTE: international aviation is a sector subject to international and multigovernmental competition. The stature of the US Representative to ICAO matters; an Ambassador nominated by the Trump Administration will elevate the US’s voice in Montreal.

ICAO globe


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