By Gabriel Agbeja
The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) have signed a landmark deal to achieve unified civil aviation regulation in Africa.
Both aviation authorities signed the agreement during the African Aviation Summit in Abuja on Thursday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the deal will make Nigeria and South African aviation regulators share safety and security best practices.
It will also streamline regulations to foster smooth flight arrangements between both countries.
The NCAA Director -General, Capt. Musa Nuhu signed on behalf of Nigeria while Ms Poppy Khoza, Director of SACAA signed on behalf of South Africa.
NAN further reports that the ministers of both countries witnessed the signing ceremony.
Nuhu said the deal would enhance flight operations between both countries and would unlock aviation opportunities to enhance the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) project.
He said SAATM was launched in January 2018 to give fresh impetus to the goal of liberalising air transport across Africa to fully implement the Yamoussoukro Decision.
SAATM, Musa said, is projected to create 508,750 direct jobs and a 4.2 billion dollars impact on African GDP in the long term.
“We will remove all the barriers and obstacles of operations between both countries. Going forward, we hope other countries will join us to see the successful implementation of SAATM.
“This is a first step of a long journey” he said.
Also speaking, Khoza, said the step was in the right direction to strengthen the relationship between the two technical agencies.
According to her, the agreement will be of great assistance for both countries and the African continent, in terms of elevating safety and security posture.
She said there would be no thriving and sustainable aviation services in Africa if safety and security were not prioritised.
“This is a technical cooperation agreement which is very technical in nature. We will be exchanging on aviation safety and security in particular.
” The Minister of Nigeria has indicated that one of his plans is to ensure that he upholds the highest-level standards of aviation security.
“It is the same plan for my minister. Therefore, there are synergies between both ministers. So, we will be cooperating a lot. In fact, we are already cooperating,” she said.
Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, said he was highly pleased with the deal.
He expressed optimism that both countries would benefit immensely.
“This is an exciting day for us. You can tick this as one of my deliverables under my first plans. We need to learn from one of the countries in Africa ahead of us in safety and security standards.
“South Africa is doing 92 percent in terms of ICAO standards and Nigeria is doing 70 percent. By cooperating with SA, we are sure to close that gap and even exceed it.
“We will close the gap as soon as possible” he enthused.
According to him, the relationship will be symbiotic in terms of guidance and assistance. (NAN)
Edited by Sadiya Hamza