The AU Commission wants at least 40 member states to join the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) by the end of 2019, AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Abou-Zeid Amani, said.
Amani said this on Friday while addressing a news conference on the sidelines of the ongoing 32nd AU summit in Addis Ababa.
The commissioner said that the 55-member pan-African bloc had undertaken intensive advocacy for countries to join the SAATM.
Currently, 28 member states are in the market, covering more than 700 million persons, the AU Commissioner said, adding that all member states would be in the market by 2021.
“Member states in the market have taken measures to harmonise their bilateral air service agreements (BASAs) with 16 countries signing memorandum of implementation.
“The memorandum will remove all restrictions in their BASAs to make them compliant with the provisions of the Yamoussoukro decision on the liberalisation of air transport markets in Africa,” she said.
Sufficient resources have been mobilised to enable the effective functioning of the Executive Agency of SAATM and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AfCAC), and the AU Commission.
The AfCAC is in the process of disseminating the competition and consumer protection regulations for SAATM, she said.
The AU summit in January 2018 launched the SAATM with 23 member states aimed at speeding up market connectivity across the continent.
The SAATM will also lead to sustainable development of the aviation and tourism industries with immense contribution to economic growth, job creation, prosperity, and integration of Africa.
“Therefore, the SAATM is expected to have great impact on successful implementation of the African continental free trade area (AfCFTA), and the protocol on free movement of persons, which are also priority flagship projects of the AU Agenda 2063,’’ Amani said.
The successful establishment and operationalisation of the SAATM is vital to achieve AU’s long-term vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, the commissioner said.
Similarly, Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, on Friday left Harare for Ethiopia where he will join other African leaders at the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU.
The Heads of State Summit will run from Feb. 10 to Feb. 11 under the theme “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs): towards durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa”.
This is Mnangagwa’s second foreign visit in 2019 after he went on a four-nation tour of Eastern Europe in January to drum up investment for the country.
Africa is struggling with a rising population of refugees and IDPs due to conflicts.
Conflict-ridden Burundi, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Mali, Somalia and Sudan are some of the leading source countries for refugees and IDPs.
The AU has set itself an ambitious target to “silence the guns” by 2020 but analysts contend that efforts could be hampered by lack of funding and difficulties in disarming fragile communities, among other challenges.
Source: ANA|COMPATRIOT MAGAZINE