The Federal Government has said it is committed to supporting any policies and programmes that would project the full implementation of Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) in Nigeria.
The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, disclosed this according to a statement by the Director General,Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu on Wednesday.
The SAATM-PIP Cluster 1 Coalition Roadshow which is the first of its kind in Africa for States identified to proceed with the accelerated implementation of SAATM is holding between April 18th and 19th, 2023.
With the aim to accelerate the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) leading to the full and sustainable implementation of SAATM, the project was launched on 14th November, 2023 by African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) in collaboration with States and partners under the theme “Acceleration of Air Transport Liberalization in Africa to Improve Continental Connectivity andIntegration”.
20 Ready States under SAATM PIP are Cape Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d Ivoire, Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Gabon, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Togo and Zambia. Beyond SAATM-PIP having cluster of 6 with diverse mandates, it has further outlined a chain of actions (five in all) to accelerate its full liberalization. They are:launching of the SAATM PIP; appointment of SAATM ambassadors; alignment of BASAs with YD; cluster of states to increase 5th freedom routes; and SAATM PIP implementation roadmap and JPAP.
Sirika who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Aviation Ministry, Dr. Emmanuel Meribole stated that the air transport market in sub-Saharan Africa presents a strong dichotomy in Southern and Eastern Africa wherein the market is growing, with few major African carriers dominating international and domestic markets which are becoming increasingly concentrated. This is in contrast to Central and Western Africa in which the sector is stagnating, with the vacuum created by the collapse of mostly state-owned airlines and a few privately owned airlines in the region.
The Minister acknowledged the significant progress and achievements of States and Institutions in this Region, particularly the AFCAC for its efforts in the promotion of the implementation of International Civil Aviation Organization’s International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for Civil Aviation Safety Oversight in the region as well as being the driver and promoter of Yamoussoukro Declaration (YD) and the SAATM. He also commended theefforts of the AFCAC and the NCAA for their unrelenting efforts in seeing that this meeting takes place.
In his welcome address, Captain Musa Nuhu, the Director General Civil Aviation, commended AFCAC for the presentation of the SAATM-PIP Roadmap which is borne out of the desire to address challenges of air travel in the Region as well as eliminating to the barest minimum, probableimpediments, to the full and sustainable implementation of SAATM.
He expressed optimism that SAATM will enhance intra-African connections and make movement of passengers and cargo smooth with minimum transit points at competitive prices. Captain Musa, however, solicited collective resolve not only to implement SAATM but also to make conscious efforts to address the issues of non-physical barriers including the high cost of travel within the region.
Secretary General of AFCAC, Ms. Adefunke Adeyemi, disclosed that the immediate goal of AFCAC working with all the stakeholders (AUC, AFRAA, IATA, ACI, UNECA, UNWTO, RECs etc.) with support from technical and financial partners is to improve the 5th Freedom Traffic penetration in Africa from the current level of 14.5% to 30% by 2025.
Thus, as more 5th freedom traffic rights are granted through liberalization, airlines can manage to connect more city-pairs in Africa which will in turn lead to the full maximization of the benefits associated with the direct and indirect gains from a competitive environment.
According to her, honoring Nigeria with hosting right is to engage with Nigerian stakeholders; to see how efforts can be intensified to implement practical strategies and taking concrete actions to address the challenges preventing the achievement of the projected growth; share ideas to boost the development of air links to and from Nigeria. This in is addition to promoting tourism, trade and investment development especially through improvements in the regulatory framework, infrastructure investment as well as operational incentives for airlines in order to create a competitive environment for aviation business to thrive.
In closing, Ms. Adeyemi encouraged all eligible Nigerian airlines to take advantage of SAATM, expand your operations across Africa and invest in infrastructure to ensure safe, secure, efficient, sustainable and competitive operational environments that promote easy connectivity, business growth and job creation across the Africancontinent.
Prominent among high-level personalities that joined Nigeria at the historic workshop to witness the commencement of the SAATM –PIP Roadshow were the Honourable Ministers, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, the Secretary General of AFCAC, the Secretary General of ACI –Africa, the Secretary General of UNWTO, the Secretary General of AFRAA,Rep. of VP – IATA Africa and Middle East,Managing Directors/CEOs of Aviation Parastatals/organizations, Managing Directors/CEOs of airlines and aviation companies, the Secretary General of AfCFTA, the SAATM Ambassador- West Africa and other distinguished industry stakeholders.
It will be recalled that the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU adopted Declaration (Assembly. Doc./Au/Decl.1 (XXIV)) on the creation of SAATM in 2015 and on 29th January 2018 launched the SAATM – Full Operationalization of YD.