UGANDA (eTN) – Regular aviation sources in Uganda and also from Nairobi have largely dismissed the core message of a World Bank study, which blamed the generally lower standards of aviation safety to the reluctance of African countries to “open up their airspaces to competition.”
“Blaming accidents on the lack of competition smacks of a twisted sense of understanding such problems,” said one source from Kajjansi, where the airlines operating from there enjoy an excellent safety record for their past flight operations. Added the source: “De-regulation, like in the US, from where the World Bank study seems to draw its inspiration, has not improved safety, and, in fact, the regulator, the FAA there, is blamed for being too slow and too lenient with airlines when safety measures like air worthiness directives are concerned and the timeframes they allow for implementation. As an airline, even small compared to the big boys, we go by the recommendations and directives of the manufacturers and the approved maintenance and operations manuals by our Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
“The World Bank should focus on creating capacity amongst African regulators to have more competent staff, assist in creating regional regulatory bodies, and do away with national bodies where appropriate, like here in the East African Community and encourage investments in the maintenance sector across our region. It is a question of incentives for manufacturers and MROs to come here and set up, but is it not the same World Bank which is trying to stop African governments to intervene in strategic sectors and tell them NOT to give incentives?”
Said a source from Nairobi: “We know that across Africa, safety standards are low, and the continent has a lot of air accidents, but when you look at the main culprits, Congo, Sudan, and a few others, when you take them away, we suddenly look much better and are much closer to global averages. It is there the World Bank should concentrate instead of bedevilling the whole industry in Africa, and they should support ICAO and IATA in their endeavors instead of creating a whole new bureaucracy in parallel.
“ICAO and IATA, the latter through their IOSA certification process, have done a great deal already and are well placed to get African aviation in line with global parameters, but this so-called study is just another example of how World Bank consultants draw wrong conclusions and make wrong recommendations.”
And yet another source added that: “They should support our demands to remove non-tariff barriers here in East Africa instead of lecturing us on Yamoussoukro or COMESA agreements; those are political declarations but without concrete steps. For instance, here in East Africa, we are still treated like foreign registered airlines when we fly some of our fellow East African countries, and they know it, we told them often, but they chose to demonize aviation in Africa and try to impose the US solutions of liberalization and laissez faire, which have not exactly succeeded very well there.
“Do they understand the economic realities of African airlines compared with their world competitors from the Mid East, Europe, and America? Is their demand to ‘open up’ not just a disguise to allow the global players into Africa and carve up the market between them and in the process destroy all the progress we made until now? I’d love to give some of those ‘consultants’ a piece of my mind and find out what sort of experts they are!”