In spite of the challenges faced by the aviation sector in Africa over the years, Africa has made enormous strides in efforts to uplift its air transport or infrastructure. As asserted by the World Bank in 2010, a liberalized air transport platform would guarantee safety, curtail fares and witness an upsurge in traffic across Africa.
A push to have a joint single African air platform
When African leaders gather for their routine meetings, they advocate and bring new ideas that can bind the continent and make it a whole, in spite of their differences in Culture and languages. During their routine meeting under the platform of the African Union Summit in 2018, a new project was brought to the limelight, seeking to bring Air connectivity on the Continent. With optimism and conviction, Commissioner for Economic Affairs Professor Victor Harrison saw the launch of Single African Air Transport Market ‘’SAAM’’ as a milestone for the aviation sector and a move towards meeting Africa’s Agenda 2063. A 2010 publication by the World Bank revealed that the African Continent represents 12% of the world’s people, but it accounts for less than 1% of the global air service market.
What is Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM?)
The Single African Air Transport Market abbreviated as SAATM is one of the many projects advocated by the African Union. It falls under the continent’s developmental agenda 2063. In as much as much as Africa seeks to be connected through trade, it is also a wish of the presidents and stakeholders to form a unified Air Transport market, consequentially giving a boost to the economic integration of the continent. It was in 2015 that the Assembly of heads of states and government adopted the Declaration on the Creation of a Single African Air Transport Market and also issued a commitment to the instant execution of the Yamoussoukro Decisions towards the establishment of a single African air transport market by 2017. And in 2018, the single African Air Transport was launched, to give vitality to the 1999 treaty in Ivory Coast under the Yamoussoukro Decisions.
The Yamoussoukro Decision refers to a treaty that spearheaded the opening of Skies among a majority of African Nations. Under the auspices of the African Ministers of Civil Aviation, the decision that has remained historic till date was unanimously backed by 44 member states of the African Union in the year 1999. This treaty has as obligations, to eradicate boundaries on ownership of airlines and frequency limits on international routes among member states. Notwithstanding, Lead Air Transport Specialist at the World Bank, and the brain behind Open Skies for Africa Charles Schlumberger lamented the slow implementation of this treaty by African countries.
Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) membership
The membership of the single air transport for Africa is open to all Africa nations. However, signing and rectification by these countries have been very slow. As of now, only 28 member states are signatories to this air transport market, with a total of over 700 million persons. In the meantime, the AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Abou-Zeid Amani has expressed hope that by the year2021, all member states would be party to the market. Currently, the following AU member states have already signed the expressed their interest in becoming part of this market. They include Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe among others.
Statistics and advantages of a single Air transport in Africa
Following the January 2019 meeting of the World Economic Forum, it was uncovered that Aviation alone has the potentiality of fostering economic growth in Africa. Statistics revealed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), shows that Africa is en route to witnessing growth in its Aviation sector in the next 20 years with an annual expansion of nearly 5%. Presently, Africa can boast of 731 airports and 419 airlines and the sector provides some 6.9 million jobs and $80 billion in economic activity. In the contemporary society.
Even though it looks promising, pundits have argued that there are still many obstacles retarding the growth of Africa’s Aviation sector. Weak and inadequate air infrastructure, soaring ticket prices, poor connectivity, lack of liberalisation, private investment (management) discouraged and limited accommodation represent the upheavals faced by the aviation sector. However, adopting a Single Air Transport Market would be a milestone as this will promote connectivity, increase the number of travelers and even boost tourism, a major economic activity among others. Notwithstanding some airline have made enormous strides Ethiopian Airline is one of the fastest growth airline in the world. It witnessed an 18 percent increase in passenger numbers last year, boosting profits to $265 million. RwandaAir lately launched its first flights between London and Kigali. Kenyan Airways is also on the move. As projected by the IATA, if just 12 key African countries open their skies opened their markets and increased connectivity, an additional 155,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in annual GDP would be created in those countries.
Article from AFRIC editorial.
Crédit images/google image/ SAATM.