SAN FRANCISCO, January 29, (THEWILL) – The African Union (AU) has inaugurated the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) that will relax aviation rules and regulations to create a free market environment for eligible commercial airlines in the framework of the ongoing 30th AU summit in Ethiopia’s Capital Addis Ababa.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who is the current chair of the 55-member African bloc, and Moussa Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission, unveiled the plaque on the premises of the commission’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, marking the inauguration of the SAATM.
The SAATM is a flagship project of AU Agenda 2063, which aspires to create a single unified Air Transport market in Africa, the liberalisation of civil aviation in Africa and as an impetus to the continent’s economic integration agenda.
According to the AU, the launch of SAATM is expected to spur more opportunities to promote trade, cross-border investments in the production and service industries including tourism, resulting in the creation of an additional 300,000 direct and two million indirect jobs.
NAN reports that in order to move the continent forward towards the concrete implementation of the AU Agenda 2063, the 24th Assembly of Head of States and Government, which took place between January 30-31, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, adopted the Declaration on the Establishment of a SAATM.
11 African Member States championed the Declaration by signing the Solemn Commitment to actualise the Yamoussoukro Decision creating the single market which has increased to 23 countries.
These Member States were constituted as a Ministerial Working Group with the responsibility to follow-up implementation progress, provide guidance, and spearhead the advocacy campaign to urge more Member States to join the single market.
In May 2016, the AUC wrote to those States that have signed the Solemn Commitment to highlight a number of concrete measures for them to undertake to initiate operationalisation of the single air transport market in the continent as soon as possible.
Among these measures, each State is required to officially publish in accordance with its national regulations or gazette that they are committed to the immediate implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision under the terms of the Declaration of Solemn Commitment in line with the AU Agenda 2063.
“The SAATM has the potential for remarkable transformation that will build prosperity while connecting the African continent,” Raphael Kuuchi, Vice-President for Africa at the International Air Transport Association, said.
“Every open-air service arrangement has boosted traffic, lifted economies and created jobs. And we expect no less in Africa on the back of the SAATM agreement.
“We commend the 23 states that have signed up to SAATM. It is an important step forward. But the benefits of a connected continent will only be realised through effective implementation of SAATM—firstly by the countries already committed and also by the remaining 32 AU member nations still to come on board.”