Africa has great growth potential and significant safety deficiency
Safe Skies for Africa was successful American effort to help
Trump Administration cancels – program wasteful and countries not support US
By Wole Oyebade
“20 August 2019 | 4:14 am
- AIB turns to AfDB for support
- Hold NCAA accountable, not sponsors, experts say
President Donald Trump’s cancellation of the Safe Skies Africa initiative for Nigeria and other countries has raised fresh concerns for safety in local air travel, especially the sustenance of gains already made.“Nigeria holds a record of three-year zero fatal accident in commercial air transport. She, however, risks setbacks without sustained safety awareness campaigns, training and retraining of investigators and operators on emerging dynamics of modern aviation. Against this backdrop, the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) Nigeria, has appealed to multinational bodies like the African Development Bank (AfDB), to sustain the programme through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).The Trump administration at the weekend, finalised plans to cancel about $4 billion worth of foreign aid funding, to decrease what it believes is wasteful spending, and make foreign aid more conditional on support for U.S. policies. The Safe Skies for Africa, already penciled to give way, was created by the White House under President Clinton two decades ago. The aim is to improve the safety, security of aviation, develop relevant policies and programmes for the continent.
The intervention costs the U.S. Departments of State and Transportation about $1.2 million yearly for the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) experts to hold safety symposia and programmes in African countries.
[Former] Managing Director of NTSB [and Founder of SSA], Dennis Jones, at the two-day safety symposium, concluded in Lagos at the weekend, described the programme as a success-factor in air travel safety and security in Nigeria, among others. Jones said after spending 20 years in Africa participating in accident investigations, conducting workshops, helping improve accident investigation programmes, and training investigators, he had seen an increase in commercial air service between the United States and Africa, especially where none existed before, improved investigation quality, and a reduced rate of accidents involving commercial aircraft.
Chief Executive Officer of the AIB, the local host of the programme, Akin Olateru … expressed grief on the development, said African countries also need to look inwards to independently strengthen their aviation safety programmes.
“It is unfortunate that the U.S. will no longer sponsor this programme that has benefit Africa greatly. I think we Africans can put our heads together to help ourselves. The reason is when an aircraft goes down, it does not distinguish nationality. “It is my initiative to get the AfDB to sponsor this project for safer skies for Africa. I had a meeting with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) President speaking on how the AfDB can sponsor the Safer Skies for Africa through ICAO. It is so because AfDB can sponsor only through an unattached independent agency like ICAO. And for the next meeting clear-cut modalities can be put in place to get this sponsorship running,” Olateru said.
Unfortunately, “NCAA has not fully enforced compliance to safety recommendations from AIB’s accidents investigations and that should be worrisome to the industry stakeholders. So, if NCAA would not, with 58 per cent share from total charges in the sector, and AIB with only three per cent share of the generated fund has to do NCAA’s duty, then let us appreciate the AIB.”
“With the assistance from the US government, the Nigeria AIB is today ranked among the best in the world and number one in West and Central Africa such that we are currently conducting investigations for so many countries in Africa and also helping in staff trainings,” he added.
For transparency sake, here are our past posts in support of Safe Skies for Africa:
- DECEMBER 12, 2012
- FEBRUARY 6, 2013
- OCTOBER 31, 2014
NBAA Meeting With African Delegations May Result In Better Aviation Safety Standards On That Continent
- NOVEMBER 29, 2017
- MAY 3, 2018
- OCTOBER 28, 2018
- JUNE 12, 2018
- FEBRUARY 12, 2019
- MARCH 12, 2019
Safe Skies for Africa was reported by the FAA as an achievement of a goal for Secretary Chao [the Service’s technical assistance to Ghana through the Safe Skies for Africa (SSFA) program resulted in achievement of a Secretary of Transportation goal of establishing a new ICAO TRAINAIR Plus facility in that country.]and as an FAA goal for FY18 [Subject to the availability of Safe Skies for Africa (SSFA) funding from the Department of Transportation (DOT), work with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and FAA Lines of Business to conduct one (1) workshop in Africa to be focused on strategies and solutions to improve runway safety. Due August 31, 2018.]
The NTSB posted on its Compass Site a long, subtle statement in support of the Safe Skies for Africa program:
By: Nicholas Worrell, Chief, Office of Safety Advocacy
NTSB staff and attendees at the Safe Skies for Africa symposium in Lagos, Nigeria
After 21 years, the Safe Skies for Africa (SSFA) program officially came to an end last week at a symposium in Lagos, Nigeria. The program was established in 1998 in part to increase direct commercial air service between the United States and Africa, which was minimal at the time. Administered by the US Department of Transportation and funded by the US State Department, the SSFA program has accomplished many of its original objectives since inception, including improving the safety and security of aviation on the African continent. Over a dozen symposia and workshops have been held over the life of the program, and we organized past SSFA symposia with the South Africa Civil Aviation Authority and Kenya’s Air Accident Investigation Department. This year’s event was hosted by the Air Investigation Bureau-Nigeria (AIB-N), who also sent a team of accident investigators and industry representative to participate.
ICAO, IATA and EASA have all recognized the need and the value of devoting aviation safety resources to Africa. It is easy to forecast that representatives from international aviation authorities will be offering their services to these countries.
Perhaps the alleged statement State Department, that the US withdrew funding of the Safe Skies for Africa due to “lack of support”, is true. What is certain is that after a few years of help from other CAAs, Africa’s support of the US will be NIL!!!
This view of Africa and its need for support in aviation safety is shared by two well-recognized authorities:
“Africans make up 12% of the world’s population but only 2.5% of the world’s passengers. Why the gap?
Africa has 731 airports and 419 airlines with an aviation industry that supports around 6.9 million jobs and USD 80 billion in economic activity. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Africa is set to become one of the fastest growing aviation regions in the next 20 years with an annual expansion of nearly 5%. While it is evident that aviation in Africa has the potential to fuel economic growth, several barriers exist. Weak infrastructure, high ticket prices, poor connectivity and lack of liberalisation rank amongst the many challenges.
Consider the reality: Airport infrastructure in most African countries is outdated and not built to serve the growing volume of passengers or cargo. Airlines and airports are often managed by government entities or regulatory bodies. Foreign investment is discouraged. In Malawi, for example, it’s illegal for a foreign airline or private investor to own more than 49% of a national airline. So, this prevented Ethiopian Airlines from purchasing more than a 49% stake in Malawian Airlines.
Yet, modernising infrastructure and operations requires both investment and expertise, ideally from public-private partnerships. Africa needs to open its doors for private capital investment. Countries such as Côte d’Ivoire and Rwanda are heeding this call and making strategic bets in the sector while employing best practices to drive vibrant aviation growth. Take the outstanding example of the Abidjan International Airport. In 1996, management and operation of the terminal in Côte d’Ivoire were privatised and awarded to AERIA, a French company. Ownership of AERIA is shared by private investors (65%), a technical partner (25%) and Côte d’Ivoire (10%). The company has invested in infrastructure and delivered quality service, impressing the government so much that the concession has been extended.
With private capital involved in the mix as in Côte d’Ivoire, partnerships can build greater efficiency, higher revenue and better quality service that demand financial discipline and eliminate corruption. Still, governments have an important role to play in delivering economic and social benefits by championing intercontinental aviation as well as shaping a dynamic African aviation sector.
Ultimately, by 2035, Africa will see an extra 192 million passengers a year for a total market of 303 million passengers traveling to and from African destinations. The top ten fastest-growing markets in percentage terms are in Africa: Sierra Leone, Guinea, Central African Republic, Benin, Mali, Rwanda, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Madagascar. Each of these markets is expected to grow by more than 8% each year on average over the next 20 years, doubling in size each decade. Thus, while challenges exist, so do the opportunities according to these forecasts. With public-private partnerships for upgrading infrastructure and operations, open skies, and visa liberalisation, aviation in Africa is sure to soar. The question now is: How soon can we make this happen?
Dakar – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reinforced its commitment to African aviation and called on industry and government leaders in Central West Africa to work together to make aviation an even more integral part of African economic development and integration. Safety, regional cooperation and global standards for infrastructure funding were highlighted as key issues which must be addressed.
“African aviation supports 6.7 million high quality jobs and business activity totaling some $67.8 billion. Aviation could play an even bigger role in facilitating Africa’s growth and development. To achieve this, however, we need a team effort of government and industry focused on improving safety, adopting a coordinated policy approach and implementing global standards,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO in a keynote address to open IATA’s Aviation Day in Dakar, Senegal.
“The most pressing problem for African aviation today is safety,” said Tyler. In 2011, the continent experienced an average of one accident for every 305,000 flights using Western-built jet aircraft. This was an improvement over 2010, when the average was one accident for every 135,000 flights. But it was still nine times worse than the global average. “It should be as safe to travel by air in Africa as it is in any other part of the world,” said Tyler.
In May 2012, IATA, with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and a host of other organizations committed to an Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan aimed at addressing safety deficiencies and strengthening regulatory oversight in the region by 2015. “The goal of the Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan is to achieve world-class safety levels across Africa by 2015,” said Tyler. The Plan was endorsed as part of the ‘Abuja Declaration’ by the Ministerial meeting on Aviation Safety and Security of the African Union in July. The next step is ratification at the Assembly of the African Union in January 2013.
The Plan is based on key priorities:
- Adoption and implementation of an effective and transparent regulatory oversight system including mandating the implementation of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA)
- Implementation of runway safety measures
- Training on preventing loss of control
- Implementation of flight data analysis (FDA)
- Implementation of Safety Management Systems (SMS)
These priorities address the most pressing issues as identified through analysis by ICAO and IATA of Africa’s safety performance between 2006 and 2010. “For example, runway accidents accounted for about a quarter of the accidents over the period. If we target measures to address them, we will see results that will make a difference.”
Perhaps new Administrator Dickson and/or someone in the Administration will reverse this decision. Rather than help US interests, this withdrawal from Safe Skies for Africa!!!
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