Based on the findings of a recent investigation, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency will require as much as N50 billion to fix bad and weak airspace communication and ground-based equipment.
The money will specifically be set aside for the repairs of satellite and navigational equipment such as Very High-Frequency Radio (VHF Radio) Category, Three Instrument Landing Systems, Distance Measuring Equipment, and other critical air navigation infrastructure.
Part of the money will also be spent on providing a secondary source of power through the installation of solar panels. This will serve some highly sophisticated ground-based en-route navigation equipment located at remote locations across the country.
NAMA needs money: According to sources, the agency’s budgetary provisions cannot match the huge cost for its equipment upgrade. Note that the agency mostly operates in a self-sustaining mode.
In the meantime, NAMA has already started receiving complaints from pilots over the poor state of communication in the Nigerian aviation industry.
Communication challenges: Questions has been tabled by pilots to NAMA concerning the issue facing communication. The pilots have also urged the government to take urgent steps to address the communication challenges in the air space with a view to averting air accidents.
The Chief Pilot of Med-View Airline, Captain Stephen Fevrier, recently stated that pilots fly in unsafe airspace in the country owing to a poor communication system.
“I came to Nigeria about 12 years ago and the first thing that we were told to learn as pilots is to say break-break when you get into the airspace and that is because the airspace is congested. I must say that the airspace is still congested and unsafe for pilots to fly.”
He went further to add that when flying from Lagos to Abuja, pilots often lose contact with the Lagos control tower 200 miles into the airspace. The same situation occurs between Port Harcourt and Abuja, he said. Even when flying into Nigerian airspace from Jeddah, pilots hardly communicate effectively with the control tower in Kano, the pilot revealed.
This scary situation should never be.
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Arik Air’s Safety Manager, Captain Jide Bakare, also spoke about the risks posed by poor communication equipment. He noted that the biggest issue that Nigerian pilots are currently grappling with is the problem of communication in the airspace.
“There are so many issues but communication is one of the biggest challenges that we face as pilots in Nigerian airspace.”
Foreign airlines still fly: An official of the agency said that despite the challenges of communication in the airspace, foreign airlines still make use of Nigerian airspace.
The source added that requests for more flight frequencies by some airlines including Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines do not align with reports suggesting that airlines are avoiding Nigeria.
He further stated that no pilot or airline would embark on a suicidal mission to fly into any country’s airspace if her skies are not safe.
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Covid-19: African Union in talks with China and Russia over vaccine
The AU and Africa CDC have revealed that they have reached out to both China and Russia over the possibility of vaccine partnerships.
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union announced they have been in talks with China and Russia over the possibility of vaccine partnerships to ensure that Africa is not left behind when vaccines become available.
This was disclosed by John Nkengasong, Africa CDC Chief, at the Bloomberg Invest Africa online conference.
“We are not limiting ourselves to any particular partner. As a continent of 1.2 billion people, we are willing to work with any partner who adheres to our strategic plan for vaccine development and access in Africa.
He said that the WHO Covax programme only covers 20% of the population, but Africa will need 60% of its population vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
“There are multiple avenues being explored now to make sure Africa has the appropriate doses of vaccines and also that we have that in a timely fashion, not in a delayed manner,” Nkengasong said.
He revealed that the AFREXIM Bank agreed to finance vaccine procurement with $5 billion and is waiting to see how much it will receive from World Bank’s $12 billion vaccine procurement fund for developing nations.
What you should know
Nairametrics reported earlier this month that Pfizer Inc. disclosed that its experimental vaccine, which is jointly developed with BioNTech, was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, based on initial data from a large study in the ongoing phase 3 trials.
Last week, a pharmaceutical company, Moderna Inc., stated that its COVID-19 vaccine was 94.5% effective in treating coronavirus, after preliminary analysis of a large late-stage clinical trial.
The G-20 nations also announced a pledge to pay for vaccine distribution to developing nations that could not afford it. The leaders also unveiled a debt extension programme to developing nations during the weekend’s G-20 summit.
The Federal Government of Nigeria also announced through the Ministry of Health, that it would inaugurate an 18-man Covid-19 Vaccine Task Team, in a bid to ensure vaccine security In Nigeria.
Covid-19: EU considers skipping vaccine patents to boost vaccine access
The EU has disclosed plans to increase its access to Covid-19 vaccines by offering financial incentives to vaccine production companies.
The European Union says its planning emergency measures to increase its access to Covid-19 vaccines including sidestepping patent rights and offering financial incentives to vaccine production companies to move production to Europe.
This was revealed in an EU document on Wednesday and reported by Reuters. The Document says the EU may create an emergency coordination mechanism to be issued at short notice when the EU needs a vaccine license, which is different from fully patent waivers, discussed in the WTO last week.
The EU says the new move will ensure faster procedures during a pandemic, which will enable generic production in the EU without the consent of patent holders.
“The Commission sees the need to ensure that effective systems for issuing compulsory licenses are in place, to be used as a means of last resort and a safety net, when all other efforts to make IP (intellectual property) available have failed,” the EU’s document said.
The EU’s actions may be triggered by its inability to access the antiviral drug, remdesivir, during the pandemic, as the United States ordered most of the stock.
The EU also disclosed that it will begin a consultation process with pharmaceutical companies next year to address issues in its pharmaceutical value chains. They added that measures could be imposed to encourage manufacturers to move pharmaceutical production to Europe from China and India.
“The Commission calls on member states to ensure that the tools they have are as effective as possible; for instance, by putting in place fast-track procedures for issuing compulsory licenses in emergency situations,” the EU said.
They added that it is urgent “to assess whether manufacturing capacity for certain critical medicines may be required in the EU.”
“We need to be able to rely on ourselves, not on others,” the Commission’s Vice President, Margaritis Schinas said. He disclosed that the EU is working on more compliance with drug supply need and increased stock levels by 2022.
What you should know
This comes as surprise considering the EU rejected a World Trade Organization (WTO) proposal last week to waive the intellectual property rights needed for the manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines. The waiver would have made the vaccine access cheaper for developing nations.
#EndSARS Sanctions: Nigeria has reached out to the UK Government – Foreign Minister
Onyeama has stated that the FG has reached out to the UK Government over the parliamentary debate on the #EndSARS protests.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, said that the Nigerian Government has reached out to the UK Government over the parliamentary debate on the #EndSARS protests.
The Minister disclosed this to Newsmen at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Thursday, which was recorded by Channels TV.
He added that the UK Parliament did not speak for the UK government, and that the UK had heard the Nigerian government’s side regarding the incident at Lekki.
“On the issue of the UK parliament, yes, we have reached out to the UK government on this question. The meeting that took place was of Parliamentarians, they don’t speak for the UK government and the UK government which acts for the United Kingdom has also heard the side of the (Nigerian) government regarding everything that happened.
“So we are in touch with them and engaging with them. But, of course, as in any democracy, the Members of Parliament are able to also air their views, but what is important is that a balanced picture is made available to them all before they take any decision,” Onyeama said.
What you should know
Nairametrics reported earlier this week that the British Parliament had announced it would consider a petition by some groups and individuals, asking it to apply sanctions against the Nigerian government and officials for alleged human rights violations during the #EndSARS protest and Lekki shooting incident.
Also, the presidency earlier disclosed that the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, had a meeting with the UK Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs, Nick Dyer, accompanied by the UK High Commissioner to Nigeria.