Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, yesterday, stressed the need to speed up full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD), with regard to the liberalisation of access to air transport markets in Africa.
This, Keyamo said cannot be over emphasised as it was crucial to the achievement of the long-term vision of the African Union (AU).
The Minister, while welcoming the various countries Ministers, Chairperson of the AU Commission, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, President, Africa Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), and the Secretary General of AFCAC, to 24th Anniversary of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) Day Event under the theme, “Africa Wants to Fly” noted that: “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.”
According to him, “Africa Wants to Fly” was not just a theme, but a reflection of a profound desire deeply rooted in the hearts of countless Africans.
“It symbolises the relentless pursuit of our dreams and the firm belief that the sky is not the limit; it is the beginning of an exciting journey.
“Throughout history, Africa has been home to diverse cultures and peoples who have looked to the skies with awe and reverence.”
Keyamo in a keynote address, explained that presently, intra Africa trade was low at just 14.4 per cent of total African exports. Though African airlines he said, had recorded a 34.7 per cent surge in passenger traffic over the past year, he noted that the continent’s global passenger market share remained modest at 2.1 per cent.
“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 per cent,” he added.
Statistics from the Africa Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), he maintained, showed that 37 member States have so far subscribed to unconditionally implement the YD and SAATM, with 23 States signing the Memorandum of Implementation (MoI) for its operationalisation.
“The records also show that these 37 States account for more than 88 per cent of intra-African traffic and more than 800 million people in Africa. 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.
“As we all know, 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, 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.
“Let me reiterate that upon my resumption of office as the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development in August this year, I made a commitment that this administration would support policies and programmes that enhances the growth and development of the Aviation Industry in Nigeria,” he added.
Continuing, the Aviation Minister stressed that Nigeria had made a commitment to the full implementation of SAATM through its commitment to SAATM-Project Implementation Pilot (SAATM-PIP).
“I have also directed that our Bilateral Air Services Agreement with African countries that are signatory to SAATM be reviewed in line with the provisions of Yamoussoukro Decision and the principles of reciprocity.
“Hence, this YD Anniversary Week celebration will enhance the discussion on the progress made on the SAATM-PIP roadshows, its implementation and monitoring,” he added.