Launched in January 2018 SAATM is the flagship project of Africa’s integration Agenda 2063. SAATM aims at creating a common African air transport market by eliminating physical barriers. Based in Dakar ,Senegal the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) is the executive agency of SAATM.
Angeline SIMANA, Director Air Transport, AFCAC, presented progress up date on the implementation of SAATM during the PIDA Week November 25-29 Cairo, Egypt. SIMANA said 32 African countries made solemn commitment to implementSAATM. There were only 11 countries which signed the pact at the launch in January 2018. Out of 32 signatory countries 18 have signed the implementation agreement.
SIMANA said there are six concrete measures that countries should take to implement SAATM.
The benefits of SAATM includes:increase air connectivity, reduce fare by more than 25 percent, creates 700,000 direct and two million jobs. It will help create socio economic and political integration makes air travel convenient and increases national GDP.
It all started in 1988 when African ministers responsible for air transport crafted a new policy for Africa to improve air connectivity to ensure the continent’s competitiveness.
Following that in 1999 the ministers made a historical decision known as the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) to liberalize the African skies for African airlines. The decision was adopted by the Assembly of Heads of States and Government in July 2000 in Lome ,Togo.
SIMANA said the aim was to connect Africa by air better and boost intra Africa trade. “By doing that there is a sacrifices to make-letting go old way of doing business,” she said.
According to her, SAATM aims at eliminating the physical barriers that still hamper the sustainable development of air transport in Africa and creating a conducive environment for development and provision of safe, reliable and affordable air transport services. “Establishing a liberalized intra Africa aviation market in relation to exchange of traffic rights between state parties.”
The assembly of heads of states and government of the AU adopted a declaration on the creation of a liberalized air transport market in 2015 and subsequently SAATM was launched by 11 champion states in January 2018.
AFACA as technical advisory of the AU reports to Ministers of Air Transport. Transport Ministers are responsible for the consistent and full implementation of SAATM. They provide guidance and through AFCAC spearhead advocacy to all African states to subscribe to SAATM. “SAATM aims at driving economic integration and boosting competitiveness,” SIMANA said. “No country should be left behind,” she added.
However, she hinted that there is reluctance among some member states to implement SAATM adding that progress report on the implementation of SAATM will be presented to the AU and Ministers of Transport soon.
Aviation supports 55.8 billion US dollars to the continent’s GDP and 6.2 million jobs. The demand for air travel in Africa is expected to double in the next two decades. Africa had 140 million passengers in 2018. With 4.6 percent compound annual growth rate African aviation market is the second fastest growing region next to the Middle East, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).