1 Growth of the aviation market in Africa thanks to a unique air transport agreement
2 Growth of the aviation market in Africa thanks to a unique air transport agreement
By Gabriel Agbeja, press agency of Nigeria
The Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is a flagship project of the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063. This is an AU initiative to create a unified air transport market in Africa.
3 The single market is supposed to allow significant freedom of air transport in Africa to help the AU’s Agenda 2063 to transform Africa into a global power.
4 It is believed to serve as a manifestation of the Pan-African drive for unity, self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity under Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.
5 Many aviation experts have observed that SATM will bring better connectivity across the continent leading to the sustainable development of the aviation and tourism industry with immense contribution to economic growth, job creation, prosperity and integration across the continent ‘Africa.
6 They say that active cooperation between eligible airlines and other air transport service providers in different regional economic communities (RECs) will grow the industry.
seven Doctor Amani Abou Zeidthe Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, African Union Commission (AUC)said in a SAATM paper on Flying Agenda 2063, that the establishment of SAATM is an effort to “build the Africa we want.
Abou-Zeid, who was in charge of the sectors covering Energy, Transport, Tourism and TICsaid the initiative was to improve air connectivity across the continent to reduce travel and waiting times for most passengers by more than 20%.
9 According to her, the vision will induce competition in air services resulting in lower fares and contribute to the growth of Africa’s tourism industry and job creation in both sectors.
11 “SAATM is the first flagship project of the AU and it was launched and established on January 28, 2018, during the 30th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
12 “Development is central to the African Union’s integration agenda.
13 “In particular, it is a crucial logistical infrastructure for the proper functioning of the African Continental Free Trade Area (Afcall to action), supplemented by the protocol on the free movement of persons and goods and the African passport,” she said.
14 The commissioner said that the CSA was mandated to carry out both projects for the benefit of Africans.
15 According to her, Africa now accounts for less than four percent of global air traffic, despite being home to no less than a billion people.
16 She is hopeful that Africa’s market share in the sector will grow to over 10% with a fully operational Single African Air Transport Market.
17 Some experts say that overall the project would boost the African economy.
18 M Mohammad Albakrithe Regional Vice-President Africa and Middle East, International Africa Air Transport Market (IATA)says African governments will benefit from an additional $1.3 billion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on the continent adding that no less than 155,000 new jobs would be created.
19 According to him, passengers will benefit from a 75% increase in direct services, fare savings of 25 to 35% while air transport would be accessible to at least 5 million additional potential travellers.
21 He said that under the leadership of Africans Union and African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) with the commitment of strong associations, the time had come for Africa to have its share of the aviation market.
22 Similarly, stakeholders at the First National Aviation Conference in Nigeria recommended that agencies responsible for the aviation industry who are dissatisfied with the implementation arrangements of the SAATM project should approach AFCAC to repair.
23 Acknowledging the fact that there are still challenges in the implementation of the program, the authorities affirm that these issues are receiving adequate attention.
24 M Abderahmane Berthethe Secretary General of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA)specifies the association, in collaboration with IATAAU, AFCAC and Regional Economic Communities, is at the forefront of advocacy for the effective implementation of SAATM.
25 According to him, a detailed action plan has been developed which focuses on the key pillars to ensure that the aviation industry achieves the milestone of a prosperous aviation sector in Africa.
26 “AFRAA urges States that have signed up to go further to ensure that they create an enabling operating environment for airlines so that they can realize the maximum potential of SAATM and take advantage of the benefits that aviation brings.
27 “We continue our collaborative efforts towards the successful realization of SAATM with the aim of realizing a far-sighted vision of a SAATM that will help drive the development of African aviation,” he said.
28 The dream of a single aviation market in Africa is impossible unless all stakeholders view it through the same prism as Group Captain John Ojikutu, former Commander of Muhammed Airport, LagosNigeria has called for effective collaborations between relevant organizations in the aviation sector across the continent.
29 Ojikutu also called for unity among member states to actualize the objectives of the SAATM and AfCTA initiatives.
30 “These African economic or trade organizations can only function effectively if there is unity among member nations,” he said.
31 According to him, stakeholders should deepen their efforts to achieve the objectives of SAATM and AfCTA.
32 He disapproved of national airlines in regions entering into alliances with airlines outside the African continent.
33 “Why are some people in Nigeria thinking of partnering with foreign airlines outside of Africa but on the same Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) road with us?
34 “Do those responsible for the administration and management of our government agencies with international relations really know what to look for?
35 Is it a benefit for all or for themselves?
36 ” He asked.
37 Ojikutu observed that if African citizens did not know what they wanted, it would be difficult to expect anything special from SAATM and AfCTA.
38 M James OdauduSpecial Assistant for Public Affairs to the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirikastated that the primary objective of SAATM is to fully implement the 1999 Decision of Yamoussoukro (YD).
39 The YD is a treaty adopted by many members of the African Union.
40 It establishes a framework for the liberalization of air transport services between African countries and towards fair competition between airlines operating in Africa.
41 Odaudu is optimistic that Nigeria will maximize the benefits of these opportunities with the emergence of its own national carrier.
42 “The YD provides for the full liberalization of the intra-African exercise of first, second, third, fourth and fifth freedom traffic rights for passenger and cargo air services by eligible airlines.
43 “Nigeria is a very big market that everyone wants to tap into.
44 But then you don’t have a national carrier to go into those countries to exploit the opportunities the same way they do here.
45 “It’s an issue that the flag carrier soon to take off will tackle,” he said.
Experts say the extent to which these initiatives benefit the African continent depends on the political will of its leaders, the understanding and firmness of operators as they compete in the industry.
** If used, please credit the author and Nigeria News Agency.