OPENING SPEECH OF HIS EXCELLENCY HIFIKEPUNYE POHAMBA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF NAMIBIA ON THE LAUNCH OF THE AFRICAN CIVIL AVIATION AGENCY (AFRO-CAA) 28 JUNE 2007, SAFARI HOTEL-WINDHOEK Directors of Ceremonies Honourable Ministers Members of the Diplomatic Corps Distinguished Guests from the aviation industry Members of the Media Ladies and Gentlemen: Let me, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Namibia thank our distinguished Ministers, distinguished delegates, donors and international institutions for responding favourably to our joint invitation that was extended to them in partnership with the promoters of the establishment of the African Civil Aviation Agency (AFRO-CAA). Your participation in this meeting will help Africa address the question of Safety and Security concerns in our Aviation industry. Distinguished delegates, we are meeting against a background of a worrying picture regarding the safety of African skies. As is well known, Africa has in the recent past, experienced nasty air accidents including the recent Kenya Airways B 737-800 disaster in which nine crew and 105 passengers died. These developments promoted the European Union to unilaterally ban 62 Airlines from our continent from flying into the European Union air space. This is a worrisome development, which needs our urgent attention. Indeed, as responsible citizens of our continent, we have a duty and responsibility to address this matter with our partners. Director of Ceremonies, Distinguished participants, it is right that we are meeting in the aftermath of this unfortunate development to review ways and means of improving safety standards in the aviation industry. In doing so, we may have to be critical of ourselves and our current practices with a view to attaining the highest standards possible. Indeed, in keeping with the laid down international standards for the safety and security of passengers, this should be the priority of all the airlines. The establishment of AFRO-CAA, a continental aviation safety agency at this critical juncture presents an opportunity to examine the causes of air accidents and develop a strategy to reduce if not eliminate accidents. Director of Ceremonies, ladies and gentlemen, the issue of safe skies in Africa cannot be over emphasized. We should not wait for our partners outside Africa to compel us to adhere to international safety standards. We need to do this ourselves, with their help because this is what is right to do. This is necessary not only for the safety of passengers but also for the promotion of tourism. I am convinced that this continental safety agency will provide us an opportunity to deal with this important matter in a systematic and decisive manner. The AFRO-CAA involves participating African States that aim at enhancing the safety of air transport operations in Africa. The project has a permanent status and will be manned by Flight Safety, Airworthiness Inspectors and Personnel Licensing Officers having the mandate of harmonizing the examinations, personnel licensing, aerodrome certification, surveillance of aircraft, audits of maintenance organizations, technical and flight training facilities. The agency will address the deficiencies in African States primary aviation legislation, regulations and technical standards relating to the subjects of personnel licensing and flight operation and airworthiness certification/surveillance and harmonization of regulations. A continental core of flight safety inspectors will be established, further trained under the agency, for carrying out the whole range of certification and surveillance functions on behalf of participating States lacking the required manpower and resources, for supplementing their individual capabilities, to the extent required. Additionally, the agency will enhance the individual safety oversight capability of each participating State by providing on-the job training and training of their available national inspectors through participation in project workshops/seminars, exchange programmes and courses. The agency is established in the spirit of mutual cooperation between the participating African States for elevating the level of flight safety oversight and to provide the safest possible air transportation system within African countries. All participating African States being integral and inherent part of this cooperative agency, each will contribute funds for the implementation programmes of the agency and major reliance will be placed on contributions from the donor community both in cash and in kind. In conclusion, the ultimate objective, of the agency is to complement the work/efforts of the African Unions specialized body for aviation and all other sub-regional cooperative groups in moving African States towards a single airworthiness, flight operations, aerodrome certification/licensing, personnel examinations/licensing and environmental code adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). I therefore urge all stakeholders to support the efforts of the AFRO-CAA. And in this regard, on behalf of Namibia, I take this opportunity to thank the African States present and those others who have lent this undertaking mutual support. Thank you for your attention.
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