The African Union (AU) crafted the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) project to create a single air transport market in Africa. This is in line with the AU’s Agenda 2063 which is to among other things; allow significant freedom of air transportation in Africa.
The primary aim of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is to implement the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision.
This means that all the participating countries would agree to lift restriction of markets for airlines, remove ownership restrictions, grant each other extended air traffic rights, and liberalize flight frequency and capacity limits.
This agreements covers both passenger and cargo carriers. It also seeks to unify safety and security measures in the aviation industry as required by the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO). Oversight over the SAATM is exercised by the African Union, its Regional Economic Communities and dedicated sub-institutions for supervision and dispute settlement
In May this year, 26 African countries expressed commitment in the establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) in line with the initial decision, but it appears many of them including Kenya developed cold feet and failed to sign implementation of the frame work last week when they were all expected to.
Speaking of the project in May, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya had expressed optimism that the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) was a project that would benefit the African continent, he said at the opening conference that:
“Kenya is also committed towards the full realization of the African Union’s initiative that will see Africa converging into one air service market.’‘
But when the time came to follow through and put pen to paper, Kenya was one of the countries that failed to show up at the signing ceremony.
The EastAfrican newspaper in defense of Kenya said the country was yet to align its national laws to accommodate the treaty, hence the non-compliance.
In its report, it said:
“The ratification has to go through parliament and we are made aware that some countries are yet to do that. That could explain their no-show at the signing ceremony.’‘
The SAATM is now operational in 14 countries, which showed up and signed the implementation last week. Countries that signed the implementation include The Gambia, Botswana and Burkina Faso.
Surprisingly, Chad, Egypt, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, which were all expected to sign, didn’t show.
Speaking on the development, Tefera Mekonnen, secretary general of the African Civil Aviation Commission said:
“We know that the delay in their commitment is a result of consultations and also aligning their laws to accommodate this new dawn.
‘‘I am confident that these countries will commit to the decision in the coming days. So far we are positive on the progress of the signing of the memorandum of implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision."
According to the African Union Commission (AUC), the implementation of the open skies policy will pave way for its other flagship projects like the African Passport and regional integration.
Critics believe that the decision of Kenya not to sign the treaty despite its public stance on the project and the country’s ranking in African is not a good development for the continent, do you agree?
Header Image: The Standard