Cablegate: Safe Skies for Africa Review: Department Of

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 203125

1. (U) This Message Responds To Reftel
Request For Post's Assessment.

2. (U) Nigeria is not technically part of the Safe
Skies for Africa Program (SSFA), but has received very
similar assistance under a parallel program combined
with port security called the Nigeria Transportation
Project. The program is managed by DOT, in tandem with
the SSFA program and Nigeria is considered "active"
SSFA for discussion purposes. In the five years since
the DOT Nigeria Transportation Project was initiated,
Nigeria has made significant strides towards improving
aviation and, to a lesser extent, port facilities.
Prior to the Nigeria Transportation Project, aviation
service between the US and Nigeria had been suspended
since 1993. Port services were rendered by untrained
port security personnel with no meaningful oversight
from senior port authorities. Today aviation security
and safety is vastly improved, with Category One status
for aviation safety within Nigeria's reach. Port
services, too, are improving.

3. (U) Meeting aviation goals, step by step: Aviation
service in Nigeria, specifically security, was
sufficiently lacking that, in 1993, the FAA suspended
direct flights to the US. In large measure, thanks to
the DOT Nigeria Transportation Project and aviation
security technical assistance rendered by the former
FAA Security, aviation security improved materially and
the suspended ban was lifted in December 1999. Other
aviation achievements include:

-- August 2000 open-skies agreement reached between the
US and Nigeria. The agreement facilitated three direct
air services between Nigeria and the United States,
accomplished with wet lease arrangements and a charter
service. These direct services have since failed for
commercial reasons, but we anticipate Continental
Airlines will begin direct service to Nigeria in early
2005. This would be the first scheduled direct service
by a U.S. carrier to the African continent in more than
10 years.
-- Various technical assistance programs in the areas
of aviation safety oversight, air navigation services,
airport security and training capability with the
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Nigerian Airspace
Management Agency, Federal Airports Authority of
Nigeria, and the Nigerian College of Aviation
-- Purchasing and installation of security screening
equipment worth more than $2.5 million for Lagos, Kano,
Port Harcourt and Abuja airports. In addition training
was provided to some 120 screeners.

4. (U) Progress at the ports: Nigerian ports are of
international importance, and a portion of the world's
oil security depends on their accessibility. The DOT
Nigeria Transportation Project helps to ensure progress
in security, stability and liberalization at the ports.
Thus far, achievements include:
-- Full port security and environmental assessment,
-- Training courses for more than 150 Nigerian Port
Authority personnel,
-- Seminar on oversight and anti-corruption for
Ministries of Transportation and Aviation.

5. (U) Project Results: Aviation infrastructure, safety
and security in Nigeria are greatly enhanced as a
direct result of the USAID/DOT-funded Nigeria
Transportation Project. Missions led by the Office of
the Secretary, as well as FAA visits and TSA
inspections, have generated favorable reports of
Nigeria's strides in these areas.

6. (U) The DOT Nigeria Transportation Project plays a
critical role in helping to secure US-Nigerian trade in
petroleum. Further improvements in access to Nigeria's
exit and entry points would improve Nigeria's trading
prospects and help make Nigerian goods more competitive
on the world market. These upgrades would also make
Nigeria a more attractive market for U.S. business and
investment. Mission looks forward to continued
collaboration with the Department of Transportation on
these important endeavors. We hope to discuss areas of
future cooperation at the October 25-29 Safe Skies for
Africa Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.


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