SAATM Implementation: Nigeria’s Aviation Minister Advises AFCAC To Involve Foreign Affairs Ministers
Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Barrister Festus Keyamo (SAN) has advised the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) to bring Foreign Affairs Ministers along with Ministers in charge of air transport into its action plan in the pursuit of full implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) Agreement.
Delivering his keynote speech at the 24th Anniversary of the Yamoussoukro Decision and the SAATM during the YD Week held by AFCAC at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja from November 13 to 16, 2023 under the theme, Africa Wants To Fly, Keyamo said a single African sky is more of a foreign affairs issue than aviation because it is the Foreign Affairs Minister that sits with the President on some major issues involved.
“It is 30% aviation and 70% foreign affairs issue” he said.
Keyamo said “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.”
“Nigeria has made a commitment to the full implementation of SAATM through our commitment to SAATM-Project Implementation Pilot (SAATM-PIP). I have also directed that our 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,” he said, calling on delegates to “embrace the theme, “Africa Wants to Fly,” not merely as words, but as a call to action, a call to reach for the stars, and a call to make our dream for the full realization of SAATM come to fruition.”
In her remarks at the workshop segment on African Aviation Market Integration, the Secretary General of AFCAC, Ms. Adefunke Adeyemi said “despite the believe in some quarters that the YD/SAATM implementation across the continent has not been standardized and has not yielded the expected results, I am glad to inform you that significant progress is being made especially with the introduction of the noble initiative of SAATM Pilot Implementation Project (PIP).”
She said the workshop could not have come at a better time than now as all hands are on deck to improve air connectivity across Africa in order to contribute to economic growth, job creation, encourage investment and innovation, improve the movement of people and goods as well as the efficiency of businesses between and amongst countries thereby boosting socio-economic development of the African Continent.
Adeyemi further stated: “I encourage governments and all stakeholders at this year’s YD Week anniversary in Abuja to contribute to the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and its socio-economic benefits to States, African airlines, investors and air travelers.”
“As the Executing Agency of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) and SAATM, which is the flagship project of Africa Union’s Agenda 2063, AFCAC is focused on achieving 30% increased 5th Freedom connectivity in Africa by 2025. I am thrilled that more States are embracing the SAATM for its huge benefits. Africa must remain committed and fast track its efforts to achieve the noble objectives of the SAATM.”
The Secretary General remarked further: “Achieving integration in Africa cannot be over-stated as Africa’s unity, envisioned decades ago, is the bedrock of our continent’s economic transformation.
The YD-Week in Abuja offers us the unique opportunity to fast-track the use of air transport to bring Africa’s regions, cultures and economies ever closer and more consolidated.”
The Director General, Civil Aviation, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Shuaibu Nuhu in his welcome remarks, said “air connectivity is an asset, which improves the global competitiveness of cities, States and regions. Increased air connectivity brings concrete value by making trips shorter with optimal user satisfaction at minimum prices.
We know that YD/SAATM would enhance connectivity by removing barriers and restrictions on air travel between African countries. This would lead to more direct flights, increased frequency, and improved routes, making movement of passengers and cargo easier and smoother with minimum transit points at competitive prices. Achieving successful implementation of SAATM therefore, require our collect resolve and effective collaboration as well as commitment to address challenges and other non-physical barriers such as high cost of travel, regulatory harmonization, infrastructure development, and the enforcement of safety standards within the African continent.”
Nuhu further stated that the desired objectives of YD/SAATM include the need to support Africa’s social, economic, and political integration as well as boost infra-African trade and tourism in accordance with the African Union Agenda 2063.
“SAATM is a catalyst for the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement through the movement of people and goods across the continent. Both are flagship programs of AU Agenda 2063,” Nuhu added.
Chairman of the African Union, HE Moussa Faki Mahamat in a read speech, commended member states that have already committed to full implementation of SAATM and called on all African member states to support AFCAC.
SAATM is being implemented in phases with the first successful launch of the SAATM Pilot Implementation Project (PIP) Cluster 1 Coalition Roadshow in Abuja, Nigeria in April 2023.
Among other main highlights, the high-level event unfolded new successes in the continent-wide efforts to open up Africa’s air transport market for the benefit of African airlines and economies under the SAATM Pilot Implementation Project (SAATM-PIP) launched during the 23RD YD-Day in Dakar, Senegal in November 2022 by 14 African Ministers of Aviation and Transport.
The YD Week brought together AU Member States, African and global aviation institutions and partners, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), airlines, airports, air navigation services providers (ANSPs), technical and financial partners, industry associations and other aviation stakeholders to network and discuss the most effective way to fast-track SAATM implementation.
The YD Day was attended by Honourable Ministers of over 12 African States or their representatives and Directors General of Civil Aviation Authorities across Africa and over 200 delegates. This year’s edition of the YD Day also featured special awards to recognize efforts towards the success of SAATM implementation.
So far, 37 Member States which account for more than 88% of intra-African traffic and more than 800 million people in Africa have subscribed to the Solemn Commitment to unconditionally implement the YD and SAATM. Also, 23 States have signed the Memorandum of Implementation (MoI) for its operationalization and implementation.
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