ICAOs 1st ever Regional Aviation Safety Group Meeting for Africa and the Indian Ocean islands commenced this morning in Kampala, to be followed in two days by the 18th AFI Planning and Implementation Regional Group Meeting at the same venue, the Imperial Royale Hotel in the Nakasero area of Kampala. Over 250 delegates are assembled from ICAOs Africa and Indian Ocean region, discussing ways and means to improve aviation safety which has been significantly lagging behind global average accident statistics.
While leading airlines in Africa, like Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways, Egypt Air, Air Mauritius and a few others have been receiving IATAs IOSA certification at an early stage, and been re-certified repeatedly since, other ICAO member countries are faced with bans by the EU for their airlines as a result of doubts on the way oversight is practiced but also their safety standards rooted in questionable maintenance and training practices unacceptable to serious safety oversight bodies which are accountable to their citizens.
The meeting in Kampala, on the first two days dedicated to Regional Aviation Safety, has 5 key areas on the meeting agenda, namely to define terms of reference and decide on the organizational structure of the RASG, incorporate the guidelines of ICAOs Global Aviation Safety Plan, in short GASP, establish mechanisms to measure the implementation of existing recommendations and identify and formulate regional significant safety concerns. Other areas are the establishment of the regional aviation safety team and collaborate with other safety initiatives and regional organizations in the AFI region.
This is ICAOs second major meeting in Uganda, following the 2009 meeting at the same venue and delegates spoken to have overwhelmingly attributed their return to the Pearl of Africa as a result of the great organization by the Uganda CAA organizing team and the general hospitality accorded to them three years ago. At the time the theme was the Economics of Airports and Air Navigation with special focus on Africa of course mapping out ways and means to make air transport more affordable and more attractive by upgrading and modernizing aviation facilities for passengers. Major national programmes have since gone underway with major overhauls at Tanzanias Julius Nyerere International Airport, upcoming at the Kilimanjaro International Airport, witnessed in Nairobi where Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is seeing a massive increase in new facilities while Rwanda is this year embarking on the construction of an entirely new international airport at Bugesera. In addition has in particular Tanzania rolled out a programme of rehabilitation and modernization of secondary airports and tertiary aerodromes, helping to promote air transport where safe and fast road and rail is often absent.