From 15 to 26 May 2017, the Rail Training Centre of the Moroccan National Railways Office (ONCF) in Rabat is hosting the fifth training programme on rail safety for senior officials of several African rail networks. They are from Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia.
The opening ceremony of this important course was presided over by Mr Abdelkader Amara, Minister of Public Works, Transport, Logistics and Water, in the presence of Ambassadors from African countries, of Mr Mohamed Rabie Khlie, Director General of ONCF and Chairman of the UIC African Region, Jerzy Wisniewski, the coordinator of this region, as well as the heads of the various departments concerned.
Following on from the four previous editions organised in Rabat between 2013 and 2016, the theme of this training course on rail safety was chosen with regard to the needs expressed by the African rail networks and to the recommendations of the study on rail revitalisation in Africa, presented by African Transport Ministers at the 3rd conference held in April 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, and endorsed by them as a medium- and long-term roadmap for this key sector.
It is true that most of the sub-Saharan African networks are still lagging some way behind when it comes to the rehabilitation of the rail network. According to the study referred to above, the modernisation of 81 000 km of track and the construction of 13 200 km of new lines up to international standards is needed.
To make this training programme more relevant and attractive, and to meet the desired objectives, a range of teaching methods is being used. These include theory lessons, case studies and lectures on specific themes co-led by experts from UIC and ONCF, as well as visits to selected construction sites.
It should also be noted that ONCF continues in its unceasing efforts to share its experience and expertise with African rail networks, giving fresh impetus and re-energising the South-South partnership in all facets of railway operations.
Without giving an exhaustive list, over the last five years this cooperation has included:
- Organising 10 conferences/seminars on targeted issues of concern, involving 65 experts and approximately 1 700 participants;
- Conducting 7 training programmes focusing on rail security and safety as well as on track maintenance, for nearly 200 participants, led by 75 ONCF experts;
- Organising approximately twenty study visits for various African delegations;
- Conducting two future-oriented studies.
The objective is to contribute to securing the development of a reliable and viable African rail transport system, bringing sustainable transport and economic inclusion to the African continent, in line with the policy devised by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, with a view to consolidating South-South co-operation and improving the continent’s position and competitiveness on the world stage.
Aspects relating to security and protection of the railway system against all types of threat and risk were presented by Jacques Colliard, Head of the UIC Security Division, while security aspects involving the UIC Safety Database will be presented by Olivier Georger next week.