Aviation safety must be a priority in Africa

ghana_civil_aviation_hq.jpgVice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama on Thursday said with Africa having
been criticized for its poor record in air safety and security, it was
praiseworthy that African governments through the African Union, had
set the improvement of safety and security in aviation in Africa as a
high priority.

He said the government of Ghana would
ensure the implementation of programmes to correct deficiencies in
policies, regulatory regimes and infrastructure for the provision of
safe and secure air services.

Vice President Mahama
said this in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah,
Minister of Defence, at the opening of the 18th Airports Council
International (ACI) Africa Annual Assembly Regional Conference and
Exhibition in Accra.

Under the theme; "Aviation Safety
and Security in Africa: New Roles for Airport Operators," the
conference is being attended by over 300 aviation experts,
intellectuals and service providers from several African member
countries, Europe and North America.

He noted that air
travel remained the safest mode of mass transport, adding that the
industry had thus put in place its own standards and recommended
practices, as well as national and international audit programs which
had effectively assessed the level of implementation of the agreed
standards and recommended practices by contracting states.

Alhaji
Aliu reminded participants that they were expected to set the trends
for the industry saying, "I encourage you to keep in mind that Africa
looks up to you for designing workable solutions to ensure maximum
contribution of the aviation industry and airports to the much needed
economic development in Africa."

Mr Joe Baidoe-Ansah, Minister of Aviation, said air transport in Africa was crucial to the continent’s socio-economic progress.

He
noted that since it remained the safest and fastest means of transport,
it had become apparent over the years that there was the need for
co-operation among African states to ensure more efficiency in the
industry within the continent.

Mr Baidoe-Ansah said
although some of the challenges facing the aviation industry had been
raised and flogged at similar forums, "the time is overdue for us to
implement at least the key decisions of our previous meetings".

The
Minister said in spite of different interests as individual states, “we
should be prepared to sacrifice some of them for the greater good of
the continent or continue to render ourselves incapable of holding our
own against other interests”.

Mr. George Muhoho, President of ACI-Africa, said African air traffic continued to grow above world level.

He
said in 2007, ACI Africa members’ airports handled over 137 million
passengers representing an 11 per cent increase from 2006, adding that,
data for the first semester of 2008 showed that growth continued.

Mr
Muhoho noted, however, that not all the sub-regions of Africa had the
same growth rate, saying the East and North Africa sub-regions
continued to grow faster than the West Africa sub-region.

He said some airports had double-digit growth rate whilst others barely kept the traffic volume of the previous year.

"Yet the overall picture of the African air traffic remains one growing above the world level," he said.

Mrs
Essi Anno Sackey, Managing Director of the Ghana Airports Company Ltd,
said despite difficulties such as the fuel crisis which had also hit
the aviation industry, a lot was still expected of the sector,
especially in the areas of safety and dependability.

She
said the aviation sector was seen to be one that must pave the way for
others industries to follow, in terms of safer, secure and
environmentally friendly practices.

"We should respond positively by assuming our industrial, corporate and social responsibilities," she added.

The conference ends on August 1, 2008.

Source: GNA