At the invitation of the Government of Chad, the President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, was in N’Djamena, Chad, last week to visit with the Republic’s President and Head of State H.E. Mr. Idriss Deby Itno, who is also presently serving as the Chairman of the African Union.
Presidents Aliu and Itno, who were joined by the Honourable Minister of Chad for Aeronautical Development and National Meteorology, Mrs. Haoua Acyl Ahmat Aghabach, the Representative of Cameroon on the ICAO Council, Mr. Zoa Englebert Etundi, and ICAO’s Regional Director for Western and Central Africa, Mr. Mam Sait Jallow, discussed at length the importance of aviation for socio-economic development in African countries, and particularly for landlocked ones such as Chad which are faced with many concerns due to under-developed land-based transportation.
“ICAO has been grateful for the long-standing cooperation it has enjoyed with the Republic of Chad, and most especially for its Government’s strong support for the aviation sector and continuous compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices for global civil aviation,” President Aliu acknowledged. He then elaborated on ICAO’s continuing mission under its ‘No Country Left Behind’ initiative and stressed that human resources development remains a “key air transport challenge for African States.”
President Aliu also encouraged Chad to identify aviation as a priority sector within its national development strategy, and to provide appropriate infrastructure investment and support to facilitate enhanced air transport connectivity in coordination with other transport modes.
“ICAO’s AFI Plan (aviation safety and efficiency), AFI SECFAL Plan (aviation security and facilitation), and our Human Resources Development Fund for Africa, should all be looked to for comprehensive coordination and other support on all of these objectives,” he noted.
With respect to Africa’s more continent-wide challenges, President Aliu positively acknowledged the on-going collaboration between ICAO and the African Union Commission for the development of aviation airport and air navigation infrastructure. The two leaders also deliberated on the terrorist threat affecting Chad and some of its neighbours in the Lake Chad Basin, the implications for aviation, and ICAO’s related assessment missions in local States which had culminated in the development of a technical assistance programme.
The Council President reiterated the need to support the sector by strengthening the autonomy of the national Civil Aviation Authority and to ensure attainment of regional aviation targets for safety and security. Dr. Aliu reassured the Government of ICAO’s commitment and availability to assist Chad and other States in the region, and sought the support of President Itno in this regard.
President Itno acknowledged the great potential for aviation in Chad and reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to address the situation with urgency. With respect to the African Union, he pointed out that, with the support of ICAO, aviation issues are now being given increasing attention. It was agreed that a concrete roadmap be developed with the assistance of the ICAO Regional Office for Western and Central Africa.
The Council President also met with the Director General and senior staff of Chad’s Cvil Aviation Authority (CAA), and visited with senior executives of two locally-based Regional Safety Oversight Organizations (RSOOs) – the Autorités Africaines et Malagache de l’Aviation Civile (AAMAC) and the Agence de Supervision et de Sécurité Aerienne en Afrique Centrale (ASSA-AC).
While pointing out that the RSOO role is to complement, and not compete with local authorities, President Aliu encouraged Chad, as the host State for both organizations, to make effective use of their presence. He also highlighted the planned global RSOO meeting being jointly organized in Africa for 2017 by ICAO and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).