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ICAO calls for West African states to focus on liberalisation and innovation

By Edward Robertson

The International Civilian Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has reiterated the need for countries in West Africa to focus on liberalisation and innovation as a way of driving aviation’s recovery in the region.

Speaking at the virtual Ministerial Meeting on Enhancing Air Transport Connectivity and Growth in West Africa held last week, ICAO council president Salvatore Sciacchitano said: “The restoration of air connectivity is nothing short of vital for the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries’ 308 million people, and for their many businesses which rely on cross-border travel.”

He also praised the region’s countries for joining the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), as well as adopting multilateral legal instruments to maximise air cargo’s role in driving national and global recoveries.

But Sciacchitano warned that lessons would need to be learnt from the current pandemic in order to ensure the ongoing sustainability of aviation.

He added: ““It’s important to recognise in this respect that our sector’s future sustainability will pertain not only to the high expectations many now place on it to adopt new technologies, operations and fuel types supporting a greener post-pandemic recovery, but also long-term health screening and hygiene solutions to help make the entire passenger experience more responsive and resilient to future pandemic events.”

ICAO secretary general Dr Fang Liu added with the help of the organisation, West African countries are overcoming many of the barriers to air connectivity in the region.

She added: “With respect to the full liberalisation of air transport in Africa, we must continue to call together for greater political will, and highest-level engagement, if we are to effectively address the remaining barriers to Africa’s more open skies.”

image: Holger Wirth