Ethiopia Committed to Implement Single African Air Transport Market: Transport, Logistics Minister

Ethiopia will remain committed to the implementation of Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) until the project is fully operationalized, Transport and Logistics Minister Alemu Sime said.

A two-day Ethiopian stakeholder’s roadshow on the acceleration of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) kicked off today.

In his opening remark, Transport and Logistics Minister Alemu Sime said the Single African Air Transport Market is advancing towards pilot implementation program, which stoutly calls for commitment from signatory governments, the government of Ethiopia will remain committed to it until the project is fully implemented.

According to him, aviation sector with no doubt could be taken as the best option to connect African states among themselves as well as with the rest of the world.

“While it is evident that aviation in Africa has the potential to fuel economic growth, the challenges we already have could turn into opportunities, as the benefits of the aviation outweighs the challenges,” he noted.

According to him, weak aviation infrastructure, high ticket price, poor or lack of liberalization are some of the continent’s challenges that can be solved if Africans come together and work towards common united future.

“Ethiopia, being the second most populous nation in Africa next to Nigeria, and yet landlocked, the role played by Ethiopian Airlines is indispensable. The airlines which is the only national carrier of the country serves as the gate way for the country’s social, economic, and political relation with the rest of the world,” Alemu stressed.

Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority Deputy Director General, Mengistu Nigussie said the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) which aims to liberalize the air transport sector and allow African carriers unrestricted access to intra-Africa markets if far from being fully achieved.

The slow implementation of YD is attributed to lack of institutional and legal framework, lack of resource and coordination, and lack of cooperation among African carriers, he stated, adding “lack of political will seems to stand out as the main culprit.”

“As you are well aware, air transport has strategic importance for Africa, due to the low quality of alternative modes of transport such as roads, rail and shipping. It also has the strategic importance due to its economic importance. It is thus the responsibility of each and every African state to ensure that such a critical economic sector is not put at a competitive disadvantage due to the aggressive penetration of foreign carriers into the continent’s market,” Mengistu elaborated.

African Civil Aviation Commission Secretary General, Adefunke Adeyemi said on her part Africa needs to increase air link penetration and stimulate the market.

Apparently aviation is seen in Africa as a luxury, she stated, and emphasized ‘it should not be.”

Ethiopia having the largest aviation market in Africa, largest airline, and largest infrastructure as well as the largest airport with the facilities of maintenance, training and capacity building it provide, is playing critical role, Adeyemi explained.

“So we see Ethiopia playing a critical role in doing that and continuing to play a role through cooperation with other carriers in other states and supporting the continent,” she underscored.

A study on the continental benefits of SAATM projected that intra-Africa traffic volume will increase by 51 percent in 2 to 3 years while the average fare levels are projected to decline by 26 percent, providing fare savings of 1.46 billion USD per annum.

Single African Air Transport Market is a flagship project of the AU’s Agenda 2063, which aims at integrating the air transport market of the continent to bring about economic integration and connectivity, thereby enabling the continent's air transport to be sustainable, efficient and unified.

Source: Ethiopian News Agency

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