The eighth edition of the Africa-Indian Ocean (AFI) Aviation Week witnessed governments coming together to enhance cooperation. This landmark event, hosted by the Government of Kenya from August 21 to 25, 2023, brought key representatives of states and international organizations to Nairobi. The primary focus was on implementing International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) security standards, aviation safety, and sustainability measures.
In his opening speech, ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano noted that the presence of “so many key representatives of States and international and regional organizations present at this meeting is a clear demonstration of the recognition of the importance of aviation for the sustainable development of nations” and the need for all partners and stakeholders to work closely together to create synergies in Africa.
He emphasized the pivotal role of aviation in sustainable nation-building, underlining the need for close collaboration among all partners and stakeholders. The event culminated in several crucial outcomes aimed at bolstering the region’s aviation sector.
One of the key takeaways was a commitment to closer partnership and capacity building, particularly to support the Next Generation of Aviation Professionals (NGAP). States recognized the practical application of the ICAO Roadmap for Aviation Training and Capacity Building and the importance of continued support for ICAO training and workshops in priority areas. They also highlighted the significance of mobilizing resources under the No Country Left Behind initiative, with a focus on integrating NGAP and gender equality objectives into national aviation planning.
Another vital aspect discussed was the enhancement of Africa’s air navigation systems. States agreed to involve the African Union Commission in coordinating the establishment of a working group titled “Clear Skies for Africa.” This collaboration aims to strengthen cooperative decision-making and prioritize digitalization of services, marking a critical milestone for the region’s aviation infrastructure.
To foster collaboration between states with varying safety and security oversight capabilities, ICAO regional offices will facilitate cooperation through regional mechanisms. This initiative will place particular emphasis on targeted projects aligned with ICAO’s Global Aviation Safety and Security Plans.
Cybersecurity and safety took center stage as well, with the ICAO Cybersecurity Action Plan and the African Aviation Safety Alliance (ASAA) initiative receiving high priority. Governments also expressed their commitment to ratifying the African Convention on cybersecurity and the protection of persons, known as the Convention of Malabo.
Sustainability emerged as a crucial theme, with a focus on the development of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). SAF is viewed as a linchpin in the decarbonization of flight and a promising enabler for sustainable development in Africa. States and stakeholders were encouraged to participate in the ICAO Assistance, Capacity Building, and Training for SAF (ACT-SAF) program, which offers comprehensive support for SAF initiatives. Additionally, they were urged to actively engage in the Third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels in Dubai in November 2023, where a global framework for SAF investment and production is expected to take shape.