Botswana has seen is ripping the benefits of utilising the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) campaign “No country left behind campaign” to improve on air safety rankings. This is according to Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) chairman, Mark John Sampson when opening 4th Africa-Indian Ocean (AFI) aviation week held in Gaborone this week. Sampson said they have utilised the services offered by the ICAO initiative to improve on safety measures. This year’s aviation safety symposium was held under the theme, “strengthening aviation as a driver for economic and social development in Africa”. Sampson said there is a need for African governments to work together to strengthen their economic potential. The aviation industry in Africa is said to support 6.9 million jobs and more than $80 billion in GDP across the continent. He said it is the duty of African aviation experts to work hard to make sure that the Yamoussoukro Decision aimed at transforming Intra-Air connectivity is implemented to accrue benefits to the continent. “It is regrettable that the implementation of this decision has been very slow and therefore, denying Africa and its people of a free market,” said Sampson, adding that benefits have not been realised. Such lack of implantation is said to have denied potential 5 million passengers a year the chance to travel between these African markets as countries continue to impose restrictions on establishing air routes.
Transport minister, Kitso Mokaila said Botswana government has acceded to the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision and therefore has signed the Solemn Declaration of establishing the single air transport market for Africa by end of this year. “In this regard we have witnessed a yield of positive results in that airlines are beginning to operate direct and transit flights to Botswana,” he said. According to Mokaila, Botswana’s partnership with ICAO and other regional and international bodies has assisted the country to achieve the high rate of ICAO Standard and Recommended Practices. Mokaila said other regional safety oversight organisations have also made a positive impact on increasing levels of aviation safety and security oversight in Africa. The examples of such include SADC Aviation Safety Organisation (SASO), Banjul Accord Safety Oversight Organisation (BAGASO) in West Africa and the Central African Safety Organisation (CEMAC). Mokaila said in addition to focusing on aviation safety and security, Botswana has during the last decade significantly channeled financial resources to invest in the expansion of all four international airports in terms of construction of new terminal buildings, control towers and lengthening of runways in order to accommodate larger aircraft.