Nigeria has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with Sierra Leone and Rwanda to collaborate through technical support to enhance safer and security of civil aviation in Africa.
The MoUs were signed by the Nigeria’s Director General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Captain Musa Nuhu and representatives of the two countries at the opening ceremony of the African-Ocean 7th Africa-Indian Ocean (AFI) Aviation Week 2022 organised by ICAO in conjunction with the NCAA in Abuja, yesterday. The overall objective was to continue to sustain and improve air safety in the continent to match what obtains in other regions in the world that have significantly improved in their safety ratings.
Speaking on the MoUs, the Minister of Aviation Senator Hadi Sirika said they would strengthen safety and efficiency of the sector as well as cooperation in the region.
He said, cooperation whether regional or international was about safe air transport, security, efficient passenger facilitation and confidence in aviation industry.
The Aviation Minister stated that aviation being an enabler and positive factor for growth, development and robustness of the economy, informed the country to enter into partnerships with other countries to further develop the sector.
“This is the only way to continue to make these initiatives relevant and sustainable, while contributing to the strengthening of safety, security and facilitation in the region, bearing in mind that a safe, secure and efficient air transport system is a natural impetus for socio-economic development of the region and a means to support trade and tourism,” he added.
The NCAA Director General, who threw more light on the new collaboration, said the partnership with the two African countries was to assist each other where there are gaps or deficiencies in the system, adding that no civil aviation authorities globally have the capacity to do everything.
The experience of the last two years, Nuhu remarked, underscored the fact that overcoming challenges and achieving meaningful growth in the industry, could only be done through cooperation, collaboration and co-ordination amongst stakeholders.
“I am therefore optimistic that this event, which is a combination of many meetings will further enhance the collective efforts within AFI region in the areas of aviation safety, security and facilitation”, he said.
Before declaring the conference open, the Minister of Aviation called on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to ensure that the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF), which has become inactive in the past four years should be revived. He appealed to the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) and other stakeholders on the continent to pressurise the ICAO Secretary General to use his good offices to revive the fund, which had remained inactive since 2018.
According to Sirika, Nigeria was one of the major contributors to the fund, which primary purpose was to train technical personnel for the industry, stressing that personnel trained on this programme had gained tremendous knowledge about the industry in the past years.
The objective of the programme was to provide a mechanism, which would allow for the collection and use of voluntary contributions from states and other donors to identify and develop opportunities for capacity building in civil aviation in African states.
The fund was aimed to assist them (African States) to better meet the human resource needs required for operational efficiency and continuous implementation of ICAO’s Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and other programme activities, and which would enable safe and reliable air transport for African States, thereby contributing to the social and economic development in the African region.
The funds were contributed voluntarily by member states and were meant for capacity building.
Sirika said: “I wish to seize this opportunity to appeal to Member States here present and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) and to call on the ICAO Secretary General to use his good offices to revive the ICAO Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF), which has remained inactive since 2018.
“Nigeria generously contributed to this fund and equally benefited from the inaugural secondment of officers to ICAO under this programme. The exposure, experience and knowledge gained by the officers attest to the usefulness of the HRDF programme.”
Sirika further reiterated the support of Nigeria to ICAO’s initiatives and collaborate with member states and development partners on the development of air transport in Africa.