By Sade Williams
To emphasise the importance attached to the consideration of Nigeria to become the first country to host the annual World Aviation Forum by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to attend the opening ceremony and flag off the event.
The Forum which holds from the 20th to the 22nd of November, 2017 in Abuja will be the first to be held outside the Organization’s headquarters in Montreal, Canada also underscores Nigeria’s rising profile within the aviation world.
According to the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, the hosting of the ICAO World Aviation Forum by the country, coming so soon after it hosted the ICAO Symposium on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) is a clear indication of the confidence the Buhari Administration has elicited within the sector and an endorsement by the world body of its reform programmes for the nation’s aviation industry.
The third ICAO World Aviation Forum which is intended to explore the benefits of the aviation sector to social, economic development and prosperity of member states, is aimed at top-ranking government officials in charge of aviation, transport and infrastructure, finance, economy and tourism; and key industry and financial partners.
The Forum is also expected to discuss, identify needs, and facilitate the funding and financing required to accelerate the implementation of international civil aviation standards and policies, as well as global plans for aviation, in support of the ICAO No Country Left Behind (NCLB) initiave..
Among the objectives of the Forum holding in Abuja would be the establishment and alignment of infrastructure programmes and plans that are consistent with the ICAO global strategic plans for aviation like the Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP) and the Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP), and also to stimulate common and interoperable air transport systems leading to the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
On the benefits of the Forum to Nigeria and, by extention, the African continent, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika says it is expected to build on the outcomes of the two previous ICAO World Aviation Forums (IWAF/1 and IWAF/2) held in November 2015 and September 2016 respectively, and, in the spirit of the No Country Left Behind initiative, tackle the existing and future financing challenges facing aviation infrastructure and capacity development in member states, especially in Africa.
Sirika also assures all participants to Forum of the usual hospitality of the government and people of Nigeria, saying the nation appreciates the honour and privilege of being the first country to host the Forum. He also appeals to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for continuous support for Nigeria’s drive to reposition its aviation sector.