ICAO has confirmed its strong support for a new Declaration on the Improvement of Search and Rescue (SAR) services in Africa.
Adopted during the recent High-level Conference on SAR in Africa which convened in Lomé, Togo, the new agreement will be implemented in part under a separate Plan of Action adopted by the participating States’ Ministers.
In his keynote address to the event, which was hosted by the Government of Togo with support from ICAO and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), Council President Aliu underscored the crucial role SAR services play in ensuring the safety of civil aviation operations. He appealed to States for greater cooperation to enhance compliance with ICAO’s current and incoming Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for SAR services, noting as well the important and related need for concrete financial commitments.
“The provision of effective SAR services entails the mobilization of essential State assets, and requires substantial financial commitments by your governments. Additionally, assets of neighbouring States and other international organizations are most likely to be involved in SAR missions, requiring the approval of high-level authorities,” Dr. Aliu remarked in his address. “The ICAO ‘No Country Left Behind’ initiative is specifically aimed at ensuring that international standards are implemented in a harmonious manner in all member States, so that they all have equal access to the socio-economic benefits of aviation. We are here to help you with these challenges, and our Regional Offices stand ready to consult with you on the most practical means forward to the required assistance and capacity building.”
The President of Togo, H. E. Faure Gnassingbé, enthusiastically agreed to champion regional progress on SAR issues. Dr. Aliu highlighted that Togo’s engagement was consistent with the significant commitment and regional leadership the State has already demonstrated in terms of aviation infrastructure development and ICAO compliance.
To commemorate the country’s related progress and achievements under the ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP), Dr. Aliu presented Togo’s Prime Minister, the Hon. Mr. Koni Selom Klassou, with an ICAO Council President Certificate of Recognition.
The ICAO Council President was accompanied at the Togo conference by Captain Musa Shuaibu Nuhu, Representative of Nigeria on the ICAO Council, Mr. Halidou Moussa, ICAO Air Navigation Commissioner, and Mr. Mam Sait Jallow, ICAO’s Regional Director for Western and Central Africa. The special high-level event was attended by over 200 participants from 34 States, including many States’ Ministers.
During his mission to Togo, the Council President also undertook a number of bilateral meetings with the country’s President and Prime Minister, as well as its Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, the Hon. Mr. Ninsao Gnofam.
Dr. Aliu also met with various other Ministers as well as Directors-General of Civil Aviation in attendance at the Conference, and visited the newly completed passenger terminal at Gnassingbe Eyadema International Airport.