AU launches single market for air transport

In a bid to improve competitiveness between airlines, and ultimately transport between African countries, the African Union at its 30th summit meeting announced the creation of a single and liberalized market for air transport, including currently 23 countries of the continent.

The project aims to unify air transport in Africa and liberalize civil aviation on the continent.

To date, 23 African countries out of 55 have subscribed to this market, which according to the African Union commission should stimulate cross-border investment in production and service industries, including tourism.

The aviation industry currently offers 8 million jobs in Africa. The commission hopes to create 300,000 direct jobs and two million indirect jobs. An official of the NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) agency reports that non-African airlines currently account for 80% of the traffic.

At a ceremony at the AU headquarters in the capital Addis Ababa, a stele celebrating the “establishment” of this unique market (SAATM) was inaugurated on Monday, in the presence of the AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki, and AU Chairman since Sunday, Rwandan Head of State Paul Kagame.

The latter praised the importance “for the general development of the continent” of this unique and liberalized market to improve travel between African countries, often made long and difficult by the lack of direct air connections. The African authorities hope that greater competitiveness will increase the number of direct air connections between African countries and bring down their prices.

This single market issue (SAATM) had been discussed since the Yamoussoukro decision in 1999 and reaffirmed in 2013 in the framework of Agenda 2063, which materialized in 2015 with the solemn commitment of eleven countries (the Benin, Cape Verde, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe) to implement this unique market .

Since then, the eleven have been joined by Burkina Faso, Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone, Swaziland and Togo, bringing the total number of Single Market States to 23.