Growth of the aviation market in Africa thanks to a unique air transport agreement
By Gabriel Agbeja, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
The Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is a flagship project of the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063. This is an AU initiative aimed at creating a unified African air transport market.
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.
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.
Many aviation experts have observed that SAATM will bring enhanced connectivity across the continent leading to sustainable development of aviation and tourism industry with immense contribution to economic growth, job creation , prosperity and integration across Africa.
They claim that active cooperation between eligible airlines and other air transport service providers in different Regional Economic Communities (RECs) will grow the industry.
Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union Commission (AUC), said in a SAATM paper on the Flying Agenda 2063, that the establishment of SAATM is an effort to “build the Africa we want. “
Abou-Zeid, who was in charge of sectors covering energy, transport, tourism and ICT, said the initiative was expected to improve air connectivity across the continent to cut travel times by more than 20%. route and waiting time for most passengers.
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.
. “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.
“Development is central to the African Union’s integration agenda.
“In particular, it is a crucial logistical infrastructure for the proper functioning of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), complemented by the protocol on the free movement of people and goods and the African passport”, she said.
The Commissioner said that the AUC has a mandate to deliver the two projects for the benefit of Africans.
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.
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.
Some experts say that overall the project would boost the African economy.
Mr. Muhammad Albakri, Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, International African Air Transport Market (IATA), said African governments would benefit from an additional gross domestic product (GDP) of $1.3 billion. million on the continent, adding that no less than 155,000 new jobs would be created. .
According to him, passengers will benefit from a 75% increase in direct services, fare savings of 25 to 35% while air transport will be accessible to at least 5 million additional potential travellers.
He said that under the leadership of the African Union and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) with the commitment of strong associations, the time has come for Africa to have its share of the aviation.
Similarly, stakeholders at the First National Aviation Conference in Nigeria recommended that agencies responsible for the aviation industry dissatisfied with the terms of implementation of the SAATM project should approach AFCAC for redress.
Acknowledging the fact that there are still challenges in the implementation of the program, the authorities affirm that these issues are receiving adequate attention.
Mr. Abderahmane Berthe, Secretary General of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), said that the association, in collaboration with IATA, AU, AFCAC and regional economic communities, is at the fore – Advocacy for the effective implementation of SAATM.
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.
“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 reap the benefits that the aviation brings.
“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.
Group Captain John Ojikutu, former Commanding Officer of Muhammed Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, seeks to establish effective collaborations between relevant organizations in the aviation sector across the continent.
Ojikutu also called for unity among member states to actualize the objectives of the SAATM and AfCTA initiatives.
“These African economic or trade organizations can only function effectively if there is unity among member nations,” he said.
According to him, stakeholders should deepen their efforts to achieve the objectives of SAATM and AfCTA.
He disapproved of national airlines in regions entering into alliances with airlines outside the African continent.
“Why are some people in Nigeria thinking of partnering with foreign airlines outside of Africa but on the same Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) route with us?
“Do those responsible for the administration and management of our government agencies with international relations really know what to look for? Is it a benefit for all or for themselves? ” He asked.
Ojikutu observed that if African citizens do not know what they want, it will be difficult to expect anything special from SAATM and AfCTA.
Mr. James Odaudu, Special Assistant for Public Affairs to the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, said that the main objective of SAATM is to fully implement the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999 (YD).
The YD is a treaty adopted by many members of the African Union. It establishes a framework for the liberalization of air transport services between African countries and towards fair competition between airlines operating in Africa.
Odaudu is optimistic that Nigeria will maximize the benefits of these opportunities with the emergence of its own national carrier.
“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.
“Nigeria is a very big market that everyone wants to tap into. But then you don’t have a national carrier to go into those countries to exploit the opportunities the same way they do here.
“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. (NAN Features)
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