Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has faulted the ‘myth’ that aviation is an exclusive preserve of the rich, saying different programmes being put in place by stakeholders will soon make civil aviation affordable.
Hinting that civil aviation was for all, the minister said aviation “connects markets and businesses, nations and nations, cultures and cultures, history and traditions, schools and children.”
While calling for the quick implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), he said such step would open more access to civil aviation, adding that there would be more connectivity that will bring down prices and make civil aviation affordable.
“Implementation of SAATM means aviation will be for all of us,” he said. SAATM is a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063, an initiative of the African Union, to create a single unified air transport market in Africa to advance the liberalisation of civil aviation in Africa and act as an impetus to the continent’s economic integration agenda.
The whole essence of civil aviation, according to him, is to facilitate fast and efficient journeys towards the strengthening of African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) to harmonise civil aviation regulations for aviation service providers in order to actualise the Yamoussoukro Decision and SAATM, otherwise known as Africa’s Open Skies.
“Some of the objectives of AfCFTA is to create a single market, deepen economic integration within the continent and minimize dependence on non-African trades and services.
It is also to resolve the challenge of multiple and overlapping membership to achieve a sustainable and increase socioeconomic transformation within member states and enhance competitiveness of member states within Africa and in the global market,” he added.
To envisage the common market of 1.3 billion people, spread of a land mass of 30,370,000sq km, endowed with wide range of agricultural and natural resources,
Sirika noted that one should expect high level of competition at the implementation stage and operationalisation of AFCFTA. On his part, Director for Africa, International Air Transport Association (IATA), Funke Adeyemi, reiterated that aviation was a perfect accelerator for AFCFTA and so does African Union, which is why they have three flagship projects they launched in 2018 and 2019 starting with the Single African Air Transport Market.
According to her, “what SAATM is designed to do is to create a pan-African air transport market – almost a domestic market across Africa that connects cities by air.
AFCFTA is to create one African market, which is proposed to be the largest trading block in the world by 2035, if it is done right.
“And, of course, we have another initiative called the Free Movement Protocol for people and goods, which looks at visa regimes and customs regimes across the continent.
These three together are really dedicated and ensuring the smooth facilitation of people, goods and services across Africa in order to help the African Union and all Africans realise the objectives of integration towards prosperity and unity,” she added