News

Establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market: Ministerial Working Group Experts’ meeting

Establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market: Ministerial Working Group Experts’ meeting

12 Oct 2017

The Single African Air Transport Market is to be launched during the January 2018 African Union Summit. In preparation for the launch, the Experts of the Ministerial Working Group, assisted by the Monitoring Body, will meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 16-18 October 2017.

The main objective of the Expert meeting is to assess the reports from each Member State on the implementation of the immediate measures recommended for them to initiate operationalisation of the Single African Air Transport Market in the continent as soon as possible and without conditions, and to determine activities for the launching of the single market in January 2018.

The Monitoring Body of the Yamoussoukro Decision will also be convened to deliberate on draft guidelines for the negotiations of air services agreement with third countries. The members of the Monitoring Body are the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), the African Airline Association (AFRAA), the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the United Nation Economic Commission for Africa.

The meeting will also finalise the draft Memorandum of Understanding between the AFCAC and RECs as a coordination mechanism for the operationalisation of the Single African Air Transport Market. The meeting will also provide an opportunity for Experts from Member States to have bilateral discussions on harmonisation of their air service agreements.

The outcome of this meeting will be outlined in a report to be submitted to the Ministerial Working Group meeting, tentatively scheduled in 26th November 2017 as a side event at the AU-EU Summit.


Background

The Single African Air Transport Market (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, the liberalisation of civil aviation in Africa and as an impetus to the Continent’s economic integration agenda.

During the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the OAU/AU in 2013, the African Union (AU) leadership expressed the desire to give a stronger and more ambitious impetus to the Continent’s socio-economic development and integration agenda.

On that occasion, the AU Agenda 2063 was elaborated in which some flagship projects were selected and included on the basis of their high potential for changing the face of Africa substantively in that duration. Among these projects are the creation of a Single African Air Transport Market and the African Passport.

In order to move the continent forward towards the concrete implementation of the AU Agenda 2063, the 24th Assembly of Head of States and Government, which took place on 30th and 31st January 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, adopted the Declaration on the Establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market; Decision on the Development of the AU Agenda 2063; and also issued a commitment to the immediate implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision towards the establishment of a single African air transport market by 2017.

Eleven African Member States championed the Declaration by signing the Solemn Commitment to actualise the Yamoussoukro Decision creating the single market. These Member States were constituted as a Ministerial Working Group with the responsibility to follow-up implementation progress, provide guidance, and spearhead the advocacy campaign to urge more Member States to join the single market. The Ministerial Working Group is supported by air transport experts from their respective countries, the AUC, AFCAC and RECs in collaboration with other key stakeholders.

The Group held its first meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 17th April 2015 and agreed on a number of actions necessary for the establishment of the SAATM, constituting the Activity Road Map 2015-2017 for the Establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market. The Group then held its second meeting in Addis Ababa on 21st October 2016, during which Ministers considered the tasks accomplished on the Activity Road Map and noted outstanding activities.

In May 2016, the AUC wrote to those States that have signed the Solemn Commitment to highlight a number of concrete measures for them to undertake to initiate operationalisation of the single air transport market in the continent as soon as possible considering the targeted launch date of 2017. Among these measures, each State is required to officially publish in accordance with its national regulations or gazette that they are committed to the immediate implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision under the terms of the Declaration of Solemn Commitment in line with the AU Agenda 2063; and that named signatories of the Declaration of Solemn Commitment have been notified. The AUC also requested the States to report on actions taken in implementing the outlined measures as indicated in the letter.

Twenty-Two (22) countries have currently signed the Solemn Commitment to open their respective air transport markets immediately and without conditions, namely: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Capo Verde, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe. As of May 2017, only three countries had reported on the immediate measures taken. The launching of the Market was therefore postponed to January 2018.

The current size of the Single African Air Transport market is comparable to the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite free trade area with 26 countries, a population of 527 million persons, a GDP of $624 billion and per capita income of US$1,184. Joining the Single African Air Transport Market is based a variable geometry principle in accordance with Member State’s commitment to implementing the decisions/declarations of the Assembly.