November 14, (THEWILL) – The Honourable Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, has appealed to African leaders and aviation Stakeholders, to rally support for the idea of Single Africa Air Transport Market – SAATM, for more receptive diplomatic relations and ease of doing business within the continent.
The Honourable Minister made this known at the 24th edition of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) Week and the Single African Air Transport Market-SAATM event holding at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
“It is hoped that the YD Anniversary Week celebration would inspire countries signatory to SAATM (and who have not done so) to further remove restrictions on air services while those who have not signed the commitment to SAATM be encouraged to voluntarily join and commit to the principles of the open skies policy. The need to speed up full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision with regard to the Liberalization of Access to Air Transport Markets in Africa, cannot be over emphasised as it is crucial to the achievement of the long-term vision of the African Union”, the Minister advised.
The event, titled “Africa Wants To Fly”, hosted by Africa Civil Aviation Commission-AFCAC is aimed at accelerating air transport liberalisation in Africa to improve continental connectivity and integration.
The gathering, which was attended by the President of AFCAC/Director General of Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, Silas Udahamuka, Ms Adefunke Adeyemi, AFCAC Secretary General and other topflight Aviation/Transport Ministers in Africa symbolises the relentless pursuit of African dreams and the firm belief that the sky is not the limit; but the beginning of an exciting journey.
According to the Minister, “Throughout history, Africa has been home to diverse cultures and peoples who have looked to the skies with awe and reverence. Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries and Air Transport is an essential component of the global transportation system and a strategic driver of economic growth and development.
Presently, Intra-Africa trade stands low at just 14.4% of total African exports. Though African airlines have recorded a 34.7% surge in passenger traffic over the past year, the continent global passenger market share remains modest at 2.1%. Therefore, the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is a no-brainer in giving impetus, to not just intra Africa trade, tourism, but SAATM would also reduce the continent’s trade deficit by 51%.
Speaking further, the Minister is of the opinion that statistics from the Africa Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), shows that 37-member States have so far subscribed to unconditionally implement the YD and SAATM, with 23 States signing the Memorandum of Implementation (Mol) for its operationalisation. The records also shows that these 37 States account for more than 88% of intra-African traffic and more than 800 million people in Africa.
He added that it is a common knowledge that the success of the SAATM initiative depends on not just the commitment of individual countries, but also on collaborative efforts at the regional and continental levels.
The Minister also gave credence to the Secretary General of AFCAC, Ms Adefunke Adeyemi and her team, for the successful launch of the first phase of the SAATM Pilot Implementation Project (PIP) Cluster 1 Coalition Roadshow, which held in Abuja, Nigeria, in April 2023, “Special thanks to our dear Secretary General of AFCAC, Ms Adefunke Adeyemi and her team, who chose Nigeria as the first country in Africa to host the roadshow.”
Other notable stakeholders and dignitaries at the event are HE Ebrima Sillah, Gambia’s Minister of information/Communication Infrastructure, HE Jimmy Gasore, Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure, HE Madut Biar Yel Akuei, Republic of South Sudan’s Minister of Transport and HE Veikko Nekundi-Namibia’s Minister of Works and Transport.
Others are Dr Emmanuel Meribole, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Capt. Nuhu Musa, DG, NCAA, Prof. Mansur Bako Matazu, DG, NiMET, among others.