African Union launches single African air transport market

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA: The African Union Heads of State and Government meeting in Addis Ababa, have launched the Single African Air Transport Market, which among others will liberalise intra-African air transport.

Calling it a major step forward for transportation, the incoming Chairperson of the African Union and also President of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame, commended the continent’s leaders at the AU Summit on the Launch.

“Freedom of movement of people in Africa is important and it is achievable in 2018,” Kagame said adding, “by committing to break down these barriers, we will send a tremendous signal to Africa and beyond that it is no longer business as usual.” 

It is envisaged that the single African air market will evolve into a common aviation area, which will result in abolition of bilateral service agreements between states and airlines, and instead have airlines flying intra-African routes based on economic and financial considerations of the market. It would also result in revision of visa requirements to enable free movement of Africans in the continent.

The Heads of State and Government are meeting for the 30th Ordinary Session of the African Union  from 28 to 29th January 2018. The theme of the Summit is “Winning the fight against corruption: a sustainable path to Africa’s transformation.”

The Single African Air Transport Market is a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063 and was adopted by the Assembly in 2015. 

Hon.. Jacquiline Amongin, one of the Ugandan Pan African Parliament MPs attending the Summit, believes that this is a positive step to quality aviation services in Africa because liberalised air transport would bring about improved safety, cheap fares and increased traffic within the continent.

Alluding to the Summit theme, she said “for a harmonized air transport system in Africa to be achieved, corruption must be at zero level; and I do hope that the leaders of the various member states implement what they have agreed on.”

“Mobility of Africans will be easy and this will promote interaction and trade in Africa because as of now, if one wants to go to certain parts of Africa, one has  to go through Europe,” Hon. Okot Ogong noted.  

To date, 23 out of 55 Member States have committed to the single air transport market, namely: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe.

During the Summit, the Heads of State also deliberated on progress of implementation of Agenda 2063. They also discussed the report of the Peace and Security Council on the implementation of the AU Master Roadmap to silence the guns in Africa by 2020; and the state of peace and security in Africa.

On tackling corruption, which is the theme of the Summit, Hon. Anifa Kawooya said the government of Uganda has taken efforts to stem the scourge highlighting efforts in its legislative and institutional frameworks such as the strengthening of the Office of the Auditor General, and the establishment of the Ministry for Ethics and Integrity to coordinate the anti-corruption crusade, among others.

“Corruption is multi-faceted and requires a comprehensive approach,” Kawooya said, adding, “the role civil society has to play is critical but there is a need for increased public awareness  if we are to rid Africa of this vice.”

UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said 2018 is an anti-corruption year. He commended the AU Heads of State on their decision to highlight the scourge. 

“Corruption undermines peace and security with consequences far reaching and devastating. The AU and UN can end this menace and ensure public funding goes to areas that are needed most,” he said.