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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

21 Years Later, U.S. Stops Air Safety Programme For Africa

Twenty one years after the United States Government commenced the Safe Skies for Africa Programme, the government has decided to abruptly end the funding of the initiative for the continent with Nigeria playing host to the last edition.

This is as stakeholders in the sector called on African Development Bank (AfDB) to take over the sponsorship of the programme for the purpose of enhanced air safety and security, warning that non-continuation of the programme may make the continent’s airspace unsafe again.

Engr. Akin Olateru, the Commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) at the two days programme in Lagos, regretted that the initiative, which started in 1998 by the US government, would come to an end on the continent.

He explained that through the programme, players in the aviation industry on the continent had improved their airspace through training and knowledge gathered, but feared that its discontinuation may have negative impact on aviation practices on the continent.

The Safe Skies for Africa programme was established by former President Bill Clinton on April 1, 1998 with the aim to improve the safety and security of aviation on the continent.

The US government had said that the initiative would focus on conducting safety assessment and security surveys in select countries and formulate action plans together with Africa civil aviation authorities to bring aviation safety and security practices in Africa up to acceptable world standards.

In the first year of the programnme, the Department of Transportation (DoT) of the US held four region conferences with African civil aviation representatives to discuss with them their airport needs and how best the US could assist.

Sources close to the Ministry of Transportation, Aviation Unit told our correspondent that it is worth $4bn annually from the US Government.

Speaking at the symposium held over the weekend by AIB in conjunction with the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) of the US, Olateru lamented that the stoppage of the programme may not augur well for safety and security on the continent.

He explained that in the past 21 years of the event, Africa had recorded successes in the aviation industry and called on AfDB to take over the sponsorship of the programme, stressing that air accident doesn’t discriminate about race, personality or citizenship.

At the event in Lagos, Olateru said that participants, which included airline operators, pilots, engineers, security experts and dispatchers among others, were drawn across the continent.

He insisted that the programme had been beneficial to players on the continent, but declined to comment when asked why the US government decided to end the 21 years programme.

He said: “Unfortunately, the programme has come to an end. The US government will no longer sponsor the safe skies programme . It is very unfortunate. Africa has really benefitted from this programme and I think we Africans should put heads together on how we can help ourselves.

The post 21 Years Later, U.S. Stops Air Safety Programme For Africa appeared first on Independent Newspapers Nigeria.

Source: Independent



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