Council President Aliu Highlights ICAO Aviation Security and Facilitation Priorities at African Ministerial in Namibia
African Ministers responsible for aviation security and facilitation met in Windhoek, Namibia, last week to address challenges concerning aviation security and facilitation in Africa through the implementation of the Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Security and Facilitation in Africa (AFI SECFAL PLAN).
During his address to the assembled dignitaries and high-level officials, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President of the ICAO Council, noted that “Recent incidents illustrate that there is no doubt that aviation is, and remains, a target of choice for terrorists, and the global policy and regulatory framework have become much more responsive to this very aspect of today's dynamic risk context. This response was enabled by ICAO's steadfast commitment to aviation security and facilitation, which also enabled our Member States to realize greater benefit from our capacity-building and targeted technical assistance activities. This work is a key priority for us today under our No Country Left Behind initiative.”
In her opening statement, Mrs. Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia, underscored the importance of security in the development of any economic sector, including air transport and tourism. She also recognized that Africa is not immune from emerging threats such as cyber threat and other acts of unlawful interference to civil aviation, and highlighted that the implementation of the ICAO AFI SECFAL Plan will play an important role in near-term and long term aviation security and facilitation progress.
African Ministers responsible for aviation security and facilitation adopted the Windhoek Declaration and Targets during the event, stressing they would seek to effectively implement ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and enhance the oversight thereof towards the targets' attainment. The two instruments will be forwarded by the African Union Commission (AUC) and will eventually be considered for endorsement at the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and governments scheduled for this July in Kigali, Rwanda.
“ICAO expects that today's event will eventually be looked upon as a milestone in the evolution of civil aviation security and facilitation in Africa,” President Aliu confirmed. “ICAO's AFI SECFAL Plan has now become a framework through which African States, donor States, organizations and industry coordinate their efforts and activities, and this event presented us with a unique opportunity to agree on the establishment of sustainable targets and goals in order to reach a comprehensive political commitment.”
Dr. Aliu thanked Namibia for hosting the Conference, expressing his gratitude at its offer to champion the implementation of the Windhoek Declaration in the coming years, and to promote the ICAO AFI SECFAL Plan as a suitable cooperation and coordination mechanism for all related initiatives. He held bilateral meetings with the Namibian Minister of Works and Transport, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, and the Director of its Civil Aviation Department.
He also undertook follow-up discussions with the Nigerian Minister of State Aviation, the Director General of the Nigerian CAA, and other officials on implementing the Action Plan on the conclusions of an earlier meeting with the President of Nigeria.
Dr. Aliu was joined by the President and Secretary General of AFCAC while in Namibia to discuss, inter alia, continuing collaboration with ICAO to enhance aviation safety, security and capacity building, and its help in assuring the rapid endorsement of the Windhoek Declaration and Targets by the next summit of AU Heads of State and Government.
During the Conference the ICAO Council President also met with Mr. Sergio Mujica, Deputy Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Mr. Francis Rwego, Assistant Director, NCB Regional Police Services (INTERPOL Regional Bureau, Nairobi), and Mr.Gilbert Faure, Director General of Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA). The discussions covered matters of mutual interest including joint training and capacity building programmes, coordination with INTERPOL, and tailored assistance to enhance effective implementation of aviation security and facilitation oversight systems, respectively.