The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a UN specialized agency that regulates the global aviation industry. Ethiopia is one of the founding members of ICAO. Headquartered in Montreal Canada, ICAO provides capacity building programs for African civil aviation authorities. The organization is striving to ensure safe air transport and environmental protection regulations all over the world. Through its regional offices the organization is closely working with African civil aviation authorities. Currently, ICAO is marking its 75th anniversary. Kaleyesus Bekele of The Reporter talked to Barry Kashambo, Regional Director ICAO East and Southern Africa Office. Excerpts:
The Reporter: As ICAO celebrates its 75th anniversary, how do you describe the contribution of the organization to the development of air transport?
Barry Kashambo: The signing of the Convention to International Civil Aviation in Chicago, in 1944, ushered in an era of an organized civil air transport system of uniform application of standards and recommended practices (ICAO SARPs), to which the air transport has continued to thrive as the fastest, most organized and safest mode of transport. It's significant and worthwhile to mention that Ethiopia was one of the few States that pioneer signatories to the convention in 1944. The uniform application of rules and requirements has allowed connection of people and cities and transportation of goods and cargo for commercial and humanitarian/peace keeping purposes. Aviation remains to be the single most important mode of transport for the tourism sector and has enormously contributed to trade and agriculture especially the export of high value and perishable products. In a nutshell, aviation has and is increasingly making significant contribution to national economic and social development.
What type of assistance has ICAO been providing to African countries in the areas of capacity building?
Africa as a continent has faced challenges in capacity building and investment in expensive aviation related infrastructure. Over the decades, ICAO has provided assistance, support and guidance to states through technical cooperation/assistance or training. Through its Technical Cooperation Bureau, Global Aviation Training and Regional offices, ICAO continues to promote, undertake and monitor capacity building initiatives and program aimed at not only increasing the capability to comply with ICAO SARPs but also to address the biggest challenge of inadequate qualified technical personnel/experts in aviation. Africa is not unique in this deficiency and ICAO through dedicated Comprehensive Regional Programs for safety and Security/Facilitation (AFI Plan and AFI SECFAL Plans) amongst others has given priority to capacity building at national and continent level. Significant progress has been posted since inception of the in the programs.
Though Africa has made a significant progress in terms of aviation safety in the last few years safety remains a concern in the African aviation industry. What are the tangible results that have been noted in ensuring safety in Africa? How is ICAO helping African nations to address safety issues?
As I mentioned above, significant progress has been made in the area of aviation safety and this is evidenced by the increase and steady improvement in the performance of states after ICAO Safety Audits. Furthermore, the significant drop in accident rates is indicative of improved safety levels. In fact, Africa posted two years consecutive years of non-fatal accidents in 2016 and 2017. It's, therefore, true that aviation safety has, is and will continue to steadily improve. ICAO is committed to enhance and implement programs that will support member states and industry efforts to sustain the momentum of the achievements posted so far. Despite the recent unfortunate accident involving ET 302, the effective implementation of oversight systems of Ethiopia is well above the global average and is set to improve in the audit scheduled for 2020.Through ICAO continuous technical cooperation/assistance program and no country left behind initiatives progress has been made in the Effective implementation of ICAO SARPs and Resolution of 20 Significant Safety Concern in the region. ICAO has taken several actions for Establishment and Strengthening of Regional Safety Oversight Organizations (RSOO) in Africa.
Shortage of aviation professionals like ATCs and inspectors is a challenge in Africa. How is ICAO in collaboration with AFCAC addressing this issue?
The lack of adequately trained aviation professional is the single most challenge in Africa. This has been compounded by the slow attraction of youth into the industry and the expensive training and long carrier progression path of aviation. Aviation is competing with new entrants into employment arena such as telecommunication companies. However, together with AFCAC, ICAO has a continental flag ship programs to train, expose and engage young aviation professionals. Such programs include the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) endorsed by the African Union and the ICAO New generation Aviation Program (NGAP). In collaboration with Aviation Training Organizations and the Association of African Aviation Training Organizations (AATO) based in Addis Ababa at the kind hosting of Ethiopia, ICAO under the auspices of Global Aviation Training assesses and evaluates training programs for quality, relevance and content including physical infrastructure for acceptance and compliance with standards and minimum requirements. ATOs that meet the requirements are awarded TRAINAIR PLUS status and Ethiopian Airways Aviation Academy is one of those existing globally. Despite the recent increase in TRAINAIR Plus ATOs in Africa, more are needed to meet the demand and replacement of aging aviation professionals.
Environment is one of the debatable issues in the global aviation industry. And currently, ICAO is working vigorously on environmental regulations. Can you elaborate that effort?
The Aviation sector remains to be the pioneer of all sectors to establish and institute a global sustainable mechanism to reduce Carbon dioxide (CO2), emissions that lead to global warming and address the challenge of climate change. As champions of market-based measures, the 39th ICAO Assembly endorsed the landmark Carbon Offsetting and Reduction scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) and related resolutions. Consequently in 2018, the Council approved the provisions of new Annex 16 Volume IV to the Chicago convention being standards and recommended practices for CORSIA. In the same vain, the Environment Training Manual Volume IV, also referred to as ICAO Doc 9501, reflects the guidance material for the implementation of CORSIA. ICAO has taken several actions to ensure that the No Country Left Behind (NCLB) initiative is incorporated in the regional environmental activities. States are assisted through the establishment of Buddy Partnerships on State Action Plans (SAPs), CORSIA or on Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) and the establishment of the Action, Capacity-building and Training on CORSIA (ACT-CORSIA) initiative.