A stronger role for AFCAC
Financial autonomy has continued to elude the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) since it was established in the 1960s, in spite of the important role the Commission plays in promoting aviation development in Africa.
AFCAC has always worked closely with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and in 1978 it became a specialised agency of the Organisation of African Unity – now the African Union (AU).
Today, AFCAC has over 40 African member states – but it still lacks the financial and administrative autonomy required to fully accomplish its primary objective of facilitating the development of a safe, efficient and reliable air transport system on the continent. A leading member state, Nigeria, recently pointed out that AFCAC is facing a precarious financial situation due mainly to the failure of some of its own member states to pay their subscriptions to the Commission.
On 27 April, 2001, in Cairo, Egypt, AFCAC member states adopted a new Constitution for the Commission which underscored the need for its autonomy, so as to improve efficiency and reduce its dependence on ICAO for survival. ICAO President Dr Assad Kotaite has often stated that his organisation is unwilling to subsidise AFCAC indefinitely.
Significant progress was achieved during the recent tenure of AFCAC President General Mamdouh Heshmat, from Egypt, when it was agreed that states that were members of both AFCAC and ASECNA, the cash-generating regional air navigation body,would pay their membership dues to the Commission through ASECNA rather than via their national treasuries. A key aim of the new AFCAC President, Tsepho Peege of South Africa, should be to seek a lasting solution to the Commission's financial difficulties so that it can play a stronger role in promoting aviation development in Africa.
– By Nick Fadugba
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