As the ICAO 41st Triennial Assembly holding from September 27 to October 7 draws closer, Africa needs to take a common position on issues of concern to the region. Mr. Levers Mabaso, Representative of South Africa on the Council of ICAO, Coordinator of the AFI Group explains further, in this exclusive interview with Aviation & Allied Business Journal.
Q: How would you describe the contributions of Africa at ICAO and international civil aviation over the past decade?
A: The contributions of Africa at ICAO over the past decade have been significant, in addition
the challenges peculiar to Africa that affected aviation safety and security as well as sustainable development of air transport in Africa have been identified over time and several interventions have been initiated and implemented. Africa gradually started taking its rightful place in the international sphere. Africa saw increased representation in leadership including ICAO Panels, working groups, Committees, etc. that enabled Africa to meaningfully contribute to the ICAO processes and the development of international standards and policies. Africans have occupied influential positions in international organizations and in other Member States.
Q: As the ICAO 41st Triennial Assembly comes up in September, how is the Africa region preparing for this key event?
A: The preparations of the 41st ICAO Assembly by African States are moving at full steam. All the eight (8) African States standing for elections have been identified through the well-established processes. They have been properly endorsed by AFCAC and the African Union. AFCAC has already sent the names of the eight States to sister organizations for mutual support.
The 41st ICAO Assembly has been a constant agenda item in all relevant civil aviation meetings held in Africa. The AFI Group has developed a strategy to prepare for the participation of African States in the Assembly as well as the retention of all the 8 seats currently held by African States. The strategy includes, but not limited to, coordination of African positions on matters to be addressed by the Assembly; development of African States Working Papers under the leadership of AFCAC. Representatives of all 8 States have already been accredited in Montreal. African States will jointly host two receptions (dinner on 27 September and lunch on 3 October). The AFI Group ha already booked a room for coordination meetings of the AFI States Delegates. The AFI Group and AFCAC are regularly monitoring the developments to ensure that African States are well prepared
Q: What do you look forward to at the event, and how would Africa ensure stronger impact and contributions at the event?
A: First of all, I am looking forward to all 8 African States successfully elected to the Council. Furthermore, I am looking forward to Africa speaking in one voice and taking its rightful place to influence the outcomes of the Assembly for the benefit of all.
Q: A number of issues such as safety and security are still of concern, would you say Africa has made progress in this regard?
A: Africa has made tremendous progress in improving effective levels of implementation of Aviation Safety and Security SARPs. We have witnessed good progress since the introduction of the AFI Plan and ultimately the AFI SECFAL Plan. Several African States have won the President awards for progress in addressing safety and security deficiencies. This year will not be different. Africa has addressed the significant safety concerns (SSCs) as well as significant security concerns (SSeCs) through the interventions of AFI Plan and AFI SECFAL Plan. The situation will improve after the recent AFI Aviation Week took resolutions that will see the rationalization of financial and in kind assistance aimed at addressing safety and security deficiencies in Africa.
The AFI Group is working on reviewing the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) to ensure that financial resources are channelled to the relevant areas and properly managed for optimal results. The AFI Plan Steering Committee has requested ICAO to commission a study to assess the capacity needs of individual Member States to ensure development of tailormade interventions. AFCAC has signed agreements with development partners aimed at building capacity in areas that will be identified through studies. The AFI CIS and AFI CES run by AFCAC continue to make significant contributions to the development of AFI States in safety and security.
Q: There are strong views that Africa can contribute to Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) given the potential feedstock on the continent; how can this potential be realized?
A: Africa has vast arable land, which can be used to produce feedstock for SAF. However, without the much-needed technology, this cannot be realized. It is on that basis that Africa has always been calling for technology transfer. Huge investments will also be required for infrastructure that will facilitate production of feedstock, transportation, development, refinery, storage, and supply. The whole process need to be managed cordially to ensure sustainability and food security.
Q: Industry is expecting recovery from COVID-19 impact, yet global fuel crisis and high taxes, charges and fees still pose challenges in Africa; what is your thought in this regard?
A: States are expected to implement the CART Recommendations as well as the Recovery Guidelines developed under the AU and AFCAC. Fuel crisis will always have a negative impact. However, this may be minimized by the implementation of CART Recommendations and the AU Guidelines. Coordination amongst States will be critical to effectively implement the CART Recommendations and the Guidelines.
Q: What do you look forward to at the ICAO Assembly and over the coming three years in Africa?
A: I am looking forward to Africa playing a leading role in terms of influencing the outcomes as well as the implementation of Assembly Resolutions. I am looking forward to all other Regions desiring to align their positions with that of Africa.