Keynote address by the Hon. Minister, Federal Ministry of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, at the Opening of the 7th AFI Aviation Week in Abuja
Keynote address by the Hon. Minister, Federal Ministry of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, at the Opening of the 7th AFI Aviation Week in Abuja, Nigeria from 16th – 20th May, 2022
I am highly honored to be among this eminent gathering of policy makers, aviation regulators & professionals, and industry stakeholders at this 7th Africa and Indian Ocean (AFI) Aviation Week Events organized by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
2. I wish to express the gratitude and warm greetings from our President, General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) GCFR, and the good people, of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to you all for attending this meeting. I am delighted with the number of high-level personalities that are participating at this important event particularly having with us our dear Secretary General, Mr Juan Carlos Salazar. This high level representation demonstrates the importance of this event.
3. Ladies and Gentlemen, Nigeria’s determination to host this meeting is borne out of the desire to support the growth of air transport in the region and ICAO’s efforts in facilitating the recovery process of the industry from the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
4. I wish to thank ICAO particularly its regional offices in Dakar and Nairobi, as well as the coordinators of the AFI Plan, AFI SECFAL and the RASFALG-AFI, for sustaining these initiatives over the years. You will all agree with me that these programmes have contributed immensely to the development of facilitation, safety and security in the region and have assisted the region in complying with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), as well as the reduction of the number of States with significant safety concerns (SSCs).
5. This is why this meeting is very important not just to review the impact of these programmes vis-a-vis the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, but also to devise new ways of implementing and achieving their objectives, by taking cognizance of digitalization and innovation, which are now being highly embraced by the industry. 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. In addition, they will also complement the Single African Air Transport Market and other initiatives of Agenda 2063 of the African Union.
6. Ladies and Gentlemen, ICAO’s leadership based on collaboration and coordination with Member States and stakeholders should be commended, as this has encouraged Member States to collaborate and pool resources in resolving challenges particularly in the area of enhancing safety in our Sub-region. One of the outcomes of such collaboration is the Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa, which metamorphosized in the West Africa region into the Banjul Accord Group Aviation Safety Oversight Organization (BAGASOO), in Abuja, which is hosted and substantially funded by Nigeria. This organization has continued to support the Member States in improving their safety oversight capabilities and human resource development.
7. 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 office 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.
8. I wish to reassure that Nigeria will continue to support ICAO’s initiatives and collaborate with Member States and development partners on the development of air transport in Africa. In this vein, I wish to raise the need to address the issue of financing and modernization of aviation infrastructure in line with the historic Declaration and Framework for Plan of Action for Aviation Infrastructure Development in Africa adopted at the ICAO World Aviation Forum (IWAF) in Abuja in 2017. It is important to recall that in accordance with ICAO Assembly Resolution A40-9, Appendix C Section II Article 7, the Implementation of this declaration should be done under the AFI Plan and I hope this is on the agenda for this event.
9. Today we are also going to witness the signing of the MoU between Singapore and AFCAC to support training programs for aviation in Africa. On behalf of the Government of Nigeria and other African member States, I take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Government of Singapore for their partnership with AFCAC and commitment to ensure development of international civil aviation, particularly in Africa.
10 Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, in concluding my address, I wish to thank you all for your presence at this meeting. My heartfelt gratitude also goes to the ICAO WACAF and ESAF Regional Directors and the ICAO team for organizing this event. I say a big thank you to Captain Musa Nuhu, Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and his team for their efforts to make this event a huge success.
11. On this note, I hereby declare this meeting opened and wish you a successful and fruitful deliberations.
12. Thank you.