Africa’s Air Transport Ministers Discuss Policy Imperatives, Actions For SAATM Implementation
Ministers in charge of air transport in Africa have held a Ministerial Round Table Discussion on Imperatives and Actions for Implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) during a Panel Session amidst the 24th Anniversary of the Yamoussoukro Decision at the YD Week.
The event was organized by African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) and held at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja from November 13 to 16, 2023 under the theme, “Africa Wants To Fly.”
The Deputy Minister of Works & Transport, Namibia, Mr. Veikko Nekundi in his contribution, expressed irony in the fact that while aviation authorities discuss liberalization of the skies, African airlines who are key players in the implementation of the agreement are not liberal in their relationships with one another.
“The airlines do much talk without being liberalized,” he said, urging AFCAC and other relevant agencies in the initiative to engage both policy makers and airlines to actualize implementation.
Cote D’Ivoire’s Minister of Transport, Diop M’Baye in his intervention emphasized that “we don’t have collaboration among ourselves. We need to bring the airlines to collaborate with one another.”
He said there would be employment opportunities for young people in Africa if SAATM is implemented, stressing the need to eliminate visas in the region.
The Director General, Agencie Nationale De L’Aviation Civile Du Togo, Latta Dokisime Gnama who represented Togo’s Minister of Aviation tasked AFCAC to lobby to ensure that a meeting of all the ministers in charge of air transport in Africa is held at least, once every year in the various regions in order to drive full implementation of the SAATM agreement.
The Minister of Transport, Republic of South Sudan, Madut Biar Yel Akuei made a case for aviation fuel cost reduction, noting that the high cost ought not to exist in a continent with huge oil resources. He said reduction of fuel costs would influence price of tickets in the hands of travel agents.
South Sudan is the youngest country in the world and the airspace of South Sudan is under the control of Northern Sudan.
Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation & Aerospace Development, Barrister Festus Keyamo (SAN) had earlier in his keynote address said Nigeria has made a commitment to the full implementation of SAATM through its commitment to SAATM-Project Implementation Pilot (SAATM-PIP), adding that he had directed that Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) with African Countries that are signatory to SAATM be reviewed in line with the provisions of Yamoussoukro Decision and the principles of reciprocity.
“Indeed, the challenges of deepening the activities under SAATM are obvious but they are surmountable. Therefore, I encourage you all to take full advantage of the unique opportunity this YD Week/SAATM-PIP presents and to share your experiences and perspectives in addressing some of the challenges of air travel in Africa as well as eliminating to the barest minimum, impediments, to the full and sustainable implementation of SAATM in Africa,” said Keyamo.
He further appealed that Ministers in charge of Foreign Affairs across Africa be involved in the advocacy for SAATM implementation.
Ghana’s Minister of Transport represented by Mr. Alhassan Sulemana Tampuli, agreed with Nigeria’s Minister that aviation ministers cannot do it alone.
“We should add Ministers of Tourism so that they help us highlight the benefits to other stakeholders,” he said, adding that there is a huge potential, with Africa’s population exceeding that of the United States of America.
“The legal and regulatory framework should take precedence. The solution would be to have a harmonized multilateral protocol. All the BASAs of signatory countries should be dissolved. The central agreement should be taken back to the various countries, domesticated and implemented,” he said.
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