Did You Know? N°1: The Structure of Civil Aviation in Africa

A general view shows the headquarters of the African Union (AU) building in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri - RTSXWBK

There are various institutions in Africa that oversee civil aviation affairs in Africa. These organizations include:


The African Union (AU) is a continental union comprising of 55 member states located in Africa. One of the responsibilities of the AU is the acceleration of the political and socioeconomic integration of Africa. In the field of civil aviation, the main objective of the AU is the development of policies for the aviation industry in Africa and include the Council of Ministers (i) and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) (ii).

i. The AU Assembly and the Council of Ministers

  • The AU Assembly, made up of all the Heads of State or Government of Member States, is the highest decision-making organ of the AU.
  • The Council of Ministers is made up of the Ministers responsible for Civil Aviation and is responsible for recommending major policy decisions to the AU Summit.

ii. The African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC)

  • Institution: Like the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of the United Nations, the African Civil Aviation Commission is a specialized agency of the African Union (AU) in charge of civil aviation, in accordance with Article 2 of the Constitution of the African Civil Aviation Commission.  Located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it was created in 1964 and has been operational since 1969.
  • Mission: Composed of more than 52 Member States, AFCAC fosters a safe, secure, efficient, cost effective, sustainable and environmentally friendly civil aviation industry in Africa with the mission:
    • to facilitate cooperation and coordination among African States towards the development of integrated and sustainable Air transport systems; and foster the implementation of ICAO SARPs and the development of harmonized rules and regulations consistent with the best international practices in civil aviation[1].
    •  Since 2007, AFCAC has held the role of Executing Agency for the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999 granting, among others, transit rights between all of its signatories[2].


Institutions: There are various Regional economic institutions and cooperation platforms and they include; The Arab Maghreb Union (AMU); The Economic Community of Central African States (CEAC); The Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD); The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); The East African Community (EAC); The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD); and The Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Mission: Their mission in regard to civil aviation is to coordinate and harmonize integration in the implementation of major civil aviation decisions e.g. the Yamoussoukro Decision and the Cooperative Development of Operational Safety and Continuous Airworthiness Project (COSCAP).


  • Mission: National civil aviation authorities develop national civil aviation policies; regulate and supervise the national aviation industry; implement and monitor compliance with ICAO standards and recommendations. Regional Safety Oversight Organizations (RSOOs) catalyze the ability to regulate and oversee aviation safety e.g. the East African Community Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency.


  • Institutions: African airlines and airport authorities are mainly government-owned with a few airlines having been privatized.
  • Mission: Airlines in Africa are major stakeholders in the aviation industry and they are in the business of providing scheduled and non-scheduled air services within and outside the Continent[1]. Airlines also support and promote the activities of airline associations e.g. the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), which protects the general interests of African airlines.

The mission of airports is to develop, manage and promote safety within the respective airport while supporting and promoting the activities of airport associations like  the Airports Council International – Africa (ACI Africa), which advances the interests of airports and promotes excellence in airport management and operation[2].


  • Institutions: Air navigation operators are mainly sub-regional organizations with a few government-owned operators.
  • Mission: Their mission is to provide air navigation services, facilities (en route and airport), air traffic services and aeronautical information services and in some cases the coordination of aeronautical search and rescue e.g. Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) with 17 signatories. Navigation operators are members of the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO).


  • Aviation training organizations: This includes: The African School of Meteorology and Civil Aviation (EAMAC), created in 1963, which is one of the three (3) schools of the Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), the East African School of Aviation (EASA), which is a Regional Training Center of Excellence (RTCE) of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) accredited by ICAO.
  • Other stakeholders include Aircraft Maintenance Organizations, ground handling companies, catering companies, leasing companies, numerous professional associations (e.g. International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (IFATCA)[1], but also the growing private stakeholders due to the increase of demands from governments relating to sensitive sectors[2].

Arlette Tanga, President of AADAS

[1] Document of African Civil Aviation Policy (AFCAP), n°

[2] Document of African Civil Aviation Policy (AFCAP), n° 1.5.7

[1] Document of African Civil Aviation Policy (AFCAP), n° 1.5.3

[2] Document of African Civil Aviation Policy (AFCAP), n° 1.5.4

[1] African Civil Aviation Commission : vision-mission

[2] Document of African Civil Aviation Policy (AFCAP), n°

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