Programme director, Ms. Mpumi Mpofu,

Honourable Minister of Transport, Mr. Jeff Radebe

Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr. Sibusiso Ndebele,

Secretary General of ICAO, Dr. Taïeb Chérif,

President of AFCAC, Mr. Kuto,

Commissioner for AU Infrastructure and Energy, Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim,

Executive Mayor of Ethekwini, Mr. Obed Mlaba,

Distinguished guests, and

Ladies and gentlemen:

I am privileged to address this special Africa-Indian Ocean Regional Air Navigation Conference taking place in this magnificent province of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

As witnessed by the attendance here today that includes experts and technocrats in civil aviation, this gathering takes place under the auspices of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). We applaud and congratulate the organisers for putting together this significant meeting.

The aviation industry continues to be an indisputable engine for accelerated economic growth and social development globally.

I believe this Conference will serve as a checkpoint for the assessment of progress of the Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa in the Africa-Indian Ocean (AFI) Region as adopted during the 36th Assembly of ICAO in September 2007.

It is also a beacon of hope for the Africa-Indian Ocean Regional Air Navigation (AFIRAN) Region in addressing challenges that are faced by the aviation industry.

I am pleased that through the talented and specialized expertise in aviation present here, matters affecting safety, efficiency and air navigation in the Africa-Indian Ocean Region will be interrogated with a view of developing a comprehensive work programme for the implementation of effective air navigation facilities and services in the region.

South Africa remains committed to addressing African aviation issues taking into consideration the growth of the industry globally and the AFIRAN Region.

As a growing nation we remain committed to the support on safety initiatives taken by the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), the Africa Union, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Some of the major initiatives we are keen to pursue are:

  • the Global Aviation Safety Roadmap,
  • the African Safety Comprehensive Implementation Plan, and
  • reinforcing the African Minister resolution on Aviation Safety adopted in Sun City - South Africa in 2005, in Gabon in 2006 and Addis Ababa in 2007.

The opportunity for this week is to deliberate on sustainable ways to make the aviation industry much safer, reliable and efficient.

These tasks are by no means easy, the global aviation industry must work together and put concerted efforts in ensuring a healthy aviation industry.

I am convinced this gathering is one of the most important Conferences in the regional air navigation planning field in the Africa-Indian Ocean Region.

It brings together advanced technical and operations aviation experts in the air navigation systems.

These experts will interrogate and examine the technical requirements of the Region for air navigation services and plan implementation of navigation, communications, safety, surveillance and Air Traffic Management.

We should remember that the objective of ICAO since its establishment in 1994 has been to improve safety in international civil aviation.

But with significant challenges being confronted by several states, meeting the expectation on safety obligations and standards has been a serious challenge.

Some of the major shortcomings include:

  • Regulations on cargo security and procedures (Part 108);
  • Implementation of Aviation Safety Plans;
  • Security evaluation exercises;
  • Improvements on airport and aviation security;
  • Certification and supervision of commercial air transport operators; and
  • Compliance with primary aviation legislation and regulations

Therefore, this conference should be able to find solutions to some of the main challenges that work against us in expediting growth and development through the aviation industry.

I want to stress that improved aviation standards in any part of the world benefits all nations and a single accident in any country places the whole industry in the spotlight. It is our duty as experts to instil more confidence in the aviation industry so that the majority of our travellers can rely much more on air transport.

To this extent, I have full confidence in the participants of this Conference and I am certain that you should be able to deliberate on the following:

  • Overview of Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP) and Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP);
  • Operational Safety Assessment Methodology;
  • Assessment of Levels of Safety in the AFI Region;
  • Training Strategies for Aviation in Africa;
  • The ICAO Comprehensive Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa;
  • Regional Approach towards Implementation of the Global Aviation safety Plan (GASP); and
  • Regional Cooperation in Investigations.

South Africa takes seriously matters of aviation safety and developments in the industry.

To this effect, cabinet approved the Airlift Strategy which is aimed at enhancing growth in aviation through tourism and economic growth.

We also have the National Aviation Safety Plan (NASP), and so far the Department has received seventy-two security plans for consideration and approval.

These include twenty (20) Airport Security Plans, ten (10) South African Airline Plans and forty-two (42) foreign Airline Security Plans.

South Africa has the biggest general aviation fleet on the African Continent and requires a continuous concerted effort to reduce our accident rate. This fleet ranges from sophisticated ex-military jets, home-builds and Micro-light aircraft.

We are currently in an increasing trend as far as South African aircraft accidents are concerned. In 2006, 177 number of accidents were reported, 184 for 2007 and with the current trend this may exceed 200 for 2008.

I am therefore calling on all participants and experts in aviation activities to apply good sound and rational evaluation in making decisions whilst participating in aviation activities.

With our commitment to catch up with growth and demand in the aviation industry, currently 54 airlines fly into South Africa up from 18 in 1983.

Our three major airports in the ACSA stable, OR Tambo International Airport, Durban International Airport and Cape Town International Airport, participate in the Global Airport Benchmarking Programme.

Because of continued growth in the industry, at the end of 2011/12, the ten (10) airports under ACSA`s network should be able to facilitate 45 million passengers while handling more than 611,000 aircraft handlings.

This growth will play a significant role in our air transport needs to host the prestigious 2010 FIFA World Cup.

I also want to stress that regional cooperation is critical to the efficient and effective provision of Search and Rescue (SAR) services. Regional cooperation would lead to a reduction of the number of Rescue Co-ordination Centres and communication databases may be consolidated.

There are other matters of concern we should attend to. We should be worried with the lack of qualified and trained technical staff.

The world is currently experiencing a technical skills shortage, resulting in technical staff within the region being sourced by the more developed countries with the ability to offer better remuneration packages.

The region is not able to replace the technical staff at the rate they are leaving and the training programmes in place cannot train new entrants fast enough.

As a result, this poses a great challenge on the region to develop new strategies which can address regional training programmes and consider the sharing of resources where this can be achieved.

In South Africa, international tourism is generating 70 percent of the value in the industry and domestic tourism is already generating a value of 30 percent.

By increasing the amount of people travelling for holiday within South Africa, the contribution of tourism to GDP can be maximised in line with the government`s economic growth initiatives.

These figures can only be sustained if we invest more on our transport services domestically and internationally. Domestic and international tourism has gained more prominence over the past few years and will continue to be an area of focus along with global marketing of the destination to ensure that the doors of travel in South Africa are open to all.

With the much-anticipated influx of visitors for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the Department of Transport is ensuring that the modes of transport that include air, buses, taxis and trains will be fully in operation by 2010.

It is of critical importance that all participants and visitors to the 2010 Soccer World Cup be accommodated comfortably in their movement from hotels to stadiums.

Most South Africans are excited about us hosting the World Cup event. The 2010 FIFA World Cup is a major milestone in our history and marks the beginning of a major revolution in South Africa?s transport system.

In conclusion, let me stress that your active participation in this Conference will leave the aviation industry better than it was before.

I am confident that if we continue to work together as an aviation family, global growth, sustainable economic development, job creation and poverty eradication will be some of the major milestones that we can achieve.

On behalf of the people and the government of South Africa, I thank you for your presence and encourage you to enjoy the warm weather of the KwaZulu-Natal province.

I thank you.