As Tefera Mekonnen Settles In As New AFCAC SG – By Roland Ohaeri

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…Stronger Push For SAATM/YD Implementation Expected

Mr. Tefera Mekonnen Tefera has been elected the new Secretary General of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC). Mr. Mekonen’s election was announced December 3, 2018, at the 29th AFCAC Plenary (Extraordinary) at the AVANI Victoria Falls Resort in Livingstone, Zambia.

According to AFCAC, four candidates were shortlisted for the position including Mr. Tefera from the Eastern Region, Mr. Guelpina Ceubah from Central Region, Mr. Moumouni Dieguimde from Western Region and Mr. Robinson Misitala from the Southern Region of Africa. There were no candidates from the Northern Region.

The election of the new AFCAC SG has been eagerly awaited in the industry since the exit of the former substantive Secretary General, Ms. Iyabo Sosina who was temporarily replaced by an Acting Secretary General, Mr. Atoumane Fall. The election of Mr. Mekonen who was the Focal Person of the SAATM before the election essentially places on him the huge task of driving cooperation, collaboration and coordination of efforts regarding expeditious implementation of the SAATM and YD.

AFCAC is the Executing Agency (EA) of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) and by extension the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). AFCAC also has the mandate to drive aviation training harmonization and aviation security in Africa. The election of the new Secretary General is expected to give impetus to the execution of AFCAC’s several mandates, more importantly, the SAATM and YD.  The SAATM was launched by the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January 2018 with the aim of opening up interconnectivity in all parts of Africa to contribute to the realization of the AU’s Agenda 2063 economic objective.

As at November 2018, 27 African States had signed the Solemn Commitment to the SAATM, and there are strong expectation that more States will sign for the SAATM in 2019. Moreso, two Regional Economic Communities have also signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with AFCAC to expedite implementation of the SAATM and YD in their regions, and more RECs are expected to sign in this regard next year.

The SAATM is the key priority of aviation in Africa currently, and will remain the focus and major consideration of partnerships and development efforts in Africa in the near- and longer-terms. The AU, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Air Transport Association (IATA), African Airlines Association (AFRAA), African Development Bank (AfDB), among other regional and global institutions are working painstakingly to ensure successful Africa-wide implementation of SAATM and YD, which will yield economic benefits for African airlines, economies and citizenry.

Until the election, Mr. Tefera was the Director of Air Transport, African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) responsible for Air Transport, Aviation Security & Facilitation and Environmental protection.

Prior to joining AFCAC, he had eight years of experience working as the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to ICAO, Montreal, Canada.

During his tenure as Representative to ICAO, Mr. Tefera was actively engaged in the works of the AFI Group at ICAO and in sensitizing States through his effective participation in the development of the draft Common African Aviation Policy (AFCAP), the Abuja Safety Declaration and the AFI SECFAL Initiatives.

Mr. Tefera’s extensive professional experience in civil aviation spans over 36 years, with increasing responsibility during his services at the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA), where he started as Air Traffic Controller and later, Air Transport Officer and subsequently, Head of Air Transport.

Furthermore, he has served on the Vice Presidency of AFCAC as well as with the Air Transport Regulatory Board of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and was an active participant in the COMESA/SADC Air Transport Liberalization Committee, including the preparation of the Common Competition Rule for COMESA/SADC/EAC and on the establishment of an interim and later on the Regulatory Board of COMESA.

Mr. Tefera is holder of a Bachelor of Arts and Economics degrees from the Addis Ababa University and Diplomas in Air Traffic Control Services, Diplomatic Training at UNITAR, Senior Aviation Management at the International Aviation Management Training Institute, IAMTI, Montreal; Transport Regulation for Anglophone Africa, The World Bank Institute, among others.

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