Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which has continued its negative effect on the aviation industry since early 2020, aviation regulation had faced numerous hurdles in Africa. Notably, Africa’s regulatory performance had improved tremendously over the past 10 years, particularly as it concerns airline safety and accident record. This has been mainly due to renewed commitment of States and enhanced regional cooperation, safety improvements among African operators, as well as collaboration with ICAO, IATA, ACI, and AFRAA, among others.
In effect, the pandemic temporarily set back some of the interventions to improve aviation regulation in Africa, especially such activities that involve travel and in-person meetings. However, the industry has so far adjusted with online technology and other strategies to overcome some of the limitations posed by the pandemic.
To lead Africa’s current restart and recovery efforts, therefore, innovative regulatory and policy interventions are essential to specifically address COVID-19 and other health challenges; while also addressing emerging issues in the industry such as the critical need to achieve safe co-existence of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or drones with manned aircraft in regulated airspace, and emerging security challenges, among others. Innovative regulation in Africa should now equally engender Africa’s performance in addressing climate change, and equally stimulate safe reconnection and integration of people and businesses after the protracted disconnection caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Interestingly, the issues of climate change and reconnection of economies globally are two of the major discussions at the 77th IATA AGM holding 3-5 October in Boston, USA.
Furthermore, as part of the regulatory interventions needed in Africa today, States must readapt to benefit more from the Cape Town Convention which provides access to acquisition of aircraft for African operators. We commend States like Nigeria that have committed to reviewing their civil aviation policies to reflect the current and dynamic realities of the aviation ecosystem.
Overall, States must quicken the process of realigning their policies and economic regulation with the African Civil Aviation Policy (AFCAP) which guides the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) and the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). This is necessary to enable African airlines exploit the potential benefits in Africa’s emerging liberalized aviation and economic market.
Given the importance of regional oversight organizations in Africa in the areas of safety and accident investigation, we call for strengthening of existing regional oversight bodies and encourage more regional initiatives to strengthen security, health and environmental interventions which are now a key focus of the global aviation community. States and regions must set realizable targets for their policies and regulation to make measurable contributions to Africa’s aviation and economic development.
We congratulate South African Airways for re-starting their operations after a period of difficulty; we also commend other African operators that have continued to serve the economy despite challenges. Africa must strengthen cooperation and collaboration in all sectors to engender sustainability of African airlines and continually improved regulatory performance.
This edition focuses on aviation policy and regulation, and features insights from the Regional Director of ICAO ESAF Region, Mr. Barry Kashambo. It also includes articles on air cargo improvement in Africa, and women’s participation in Aviation, as well as an exclusive interview with Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu on the ongoing transition in Nigeria’s large regional aviation market. We commend advertisers that have been able advertise in the Journal so far, and encourage others to take advantage of our specially discounted rates to support our clients as the industry struggles to recover from the impact of the pandemic.