Aviation experts are meeting in Kenya this week to examine methods to improve security and safety for Africa's airlines and airports.
Beyond those topics, the eighth meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will also involve discussions on air transport facilitation and sustainability in Africa.
The principal secretary for Kenya’s department of transport, Mohamed Daghar, told the conference that Kenyan airports now have technology for security measures that make travel for passengers both safe and smooth.
“We now have in place the prerequisite infrastructure and capabilities to fully participate in ICAO's public key directory, the advanced passenger information and the passenger name record,” Daghar said. “This will see Kenya join the global community in making the passenger journey seamless.”
ICAO President Salvatore Sciacchitano said Africa must prepare for increased air traffic in the coming months, hence the need to improve the safety of airports and passengers.
"It’s important to acknowledge that states are more prosperous when they are better connected and that nothing can connect Africa as efficiently and as reliably as air transport,” Sciacchitano said.
He added that the industry is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic but that global traffic is expected to reach 2019 levels by the end of the year.
“The prospect for Africa in this respect is remarkable,” Sciacchitano said.
Africa's air transport sector was hit hard by the global pandemic, which led to lockdowns and countries issuing strict health measures to combat the infection. Aviation experts say the measures taken to subdue COVID-19 have made it difficult for the airlines and people to move freely, leading to a loss of income.
Even as air traffic picks up, experts say security risks have evolved, and now airlines face threats from insiders, terrorism, human trafficking, inadequately documented passengers and contraband smuggling.
The Transportation Security Administration, a U.S. government agency, invested in Kenya's international airport to improve security and train staff, increasing the effectiveness of passenger screenings.
The agency's administrator, David Pekoske, told the aviation conference to work together to deal with security threats.
"Over the next few days, I encourage all of us to not only listen to the best practices and effectiveness that can be sustained but ultimately to collaborate on enhancing the effectiveness of the global civil aviation system,” Pekoske said. “Success's mission is directly dependent on the cooperation between a myriad of partners. I believe it's people, partnership and technology that make a difference."
More than 300 delegates from international and African civil aviation agencies are attending the conference in Nairobi, which ends Friday.