Donald Trump’s administration has decided to stop funding the Safer Skies for Africa programme that used to take place in Nigeria. This has left the organisers in limbo as there is no fund to keep the programme running.
Reason for the action of the US: The United States Government made the decision to stop its financial backing without giving reasons. This could affect logistics as the Accident Investigation Bureau, the organisers of the Safer Skies for Africa programme has not found another sponsor to fill the vacuum.
The event used to be attended by the Heads of Accident Investigation Bureaux from several African countries. It was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Nigeria’s Accident Investigation Bureau for many years.
Speaking on the decision of the U.S. to back out of the programme, the Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Investigation Bureau in Nigeria, Akin Olateru, said, “Today (yesterday), we have come to the end of the programme where we brought in African nations to an aviation safety gathering sponsored by AIB Nigeria in conjunction with the Safe Sky Africa, which is the Department of Transport in the U.S., and the U.S NTSB.
“Unfortunately, I heard the programme has come to an end as the U.S. Government will no longer sponsor it. This is very unfortunate because Africa has really benefited from this programme.”
He added that, “I cannot speak on behalf of the U.S. Government on why they decided to stop funding the Safe Skies for Africa project. All I know is that we were told that the project has stopped.”
Replacement underway: The Accident Investigation Bureau has tasked African leaders to come together in order to salvage the situation. Olateru said he had approached the African Development Bank (AfDB) for support to keep running the programme, urging the bank to take over the initiative to enable African skies to remain safer.
“I think we Africans should put heads together on how we can help ourselves. We have approached AfDB, under its corporate social responsibility, to take up the sponsorship of the programme. We owe it to ourselves to work together as a team and strengthen aviation and make aviation a safer place to be.”
Explaining further on the process of finding a replacement, Olateru said the bureau would partner with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to facilitate the release of funds from AfDB.
“I had a meeting with the ICAO president two months ago in Montreal, Canada. I had a discussion with him on how AfDB can continue to sponsor this project through ICAO because AfDB will not just release money to AIB Nigeria. It must be an independent organisation, which is ICAO. It is not just to Nigeria but to African nations.
“There will be another meeting during the next ICAO Assembly on the clear-cut modality on how to get this done. So, talks are still on, on how to make this work.”