The 17th Africa Regional Assembly was held online on 9 December within the framework of the annual UIC General Assembly. The meeting was chaired by Mr Mohammed Khlie, ONCF Director General and President of the UIC Africa Region, with Mr François Davenne, UIC Director General, Mr Thierry Béra, UIC CFO and Africa Region Coordinator and Mr Said Chandid, ONCF and representative of the UIC Africa Regional Office, also in attendance.
Mr Khlie noted that that ARA was being held online for the first time, and expressed his hope that all members of the region would have an opportunity to meet in 2021 during the second Digital African Rail Conference in Tunis. Mr Khlie outlined the current situation on the African continent, stressing that rail companies were continuing their work as usual in spite of reduced traffic.
Mr François Davenne noted the importance of projects being developed within the UIC Africa Region through digital leapfrogging, significant developments in telecoms, as well as work of the UIC Covid-19 Taskforce, through which UIC can support the African continent. He also noted increased collaboration with the African Union and AUDA-NEPAD, which places emphasis on regional projects. Finally, Mr Davenne announced the publication of the UIC Technical Solutions for the Operational Railways, which documents the added value provided by UIC.
The Assembly discussed the African context and achievements in 2020, as well as the 2021 action plan and development perspective. Due to the situation in relation to the pandemic, all activities had taken place remotely in 2020. The UIC Africa region had used the opportunity to unite African networks on an unprecedented scale, putting in place various work programmes such as bimonthly African Railway Thursday webinars, which included digital and standardisation events, as well as increasing number of participants in twice-yearly training sessions on safety/security and rail track maintenance.
Remote working methods will continue into 2021, with webinars scheduled on topics such as railway management, level crossings and sustainable development, and the UIC Days in Morocco will provide a more in-depth overview of UIC activities and strategies for the Africa region. An increasingly important role will be played by partnerships – not only partnerships between the regions but also with the African Union and AUDA-NEPAD.
Together with Mr Francis Bedel, UIC Chief Digital Officer, Mr Khlie officially launched the UIC Africa Region webpage to facilitate exchange between members: https://uic.org/africa/