Africa: Rwandan President, Kagame at AFCAC says implementation of Single Africa Aviation Market (SAATM) will spur sustainable recovery from COVID19

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Rwandan President, Paul Kagame has said that liberalisation of the air transport can help spur sustainable recovery of the aviation industry from the adverse effects of Covid-19, among other benefits.

According to newtimes.co.rw, Kagame made the remarks on Wednesday, December 1, while officiating at the opening of the 33rd plenary session of the African Civil Aviation Commission meeting, currently underway in Kigali.

The Head of State who was addressing over 200 delegates added that the liberalisation of the aviation industry will also facilitate operation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

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President Paul Kagame is joined by industry leaders for a group photo at the opening of the 33rd plenary session of the African Civil Aviation Commission.

meeting in Kigali on Wednesday, December 1. Kagame made a strong case for a liberalised air transport sector.

“First, investment in infrastructure is very critical. Rwanda’s aviation industry continues to see considerable growth, particularly with the increase in the capacity of RwandAir and construction of the upcoming new international airport,” he stated.

Kagame said that the investments support connectivity within Africa and compliment Rwanda’s decision to remove visa requirements for fellow Africans, as it has been done for travellers coming from out of Africa.

The meeting brought together different delegates from African member states, including Gabriel Lesa, the President of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) and Salvatore Sciacchitano, the President of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

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Several matters of concern in the aviation sector were discussed, with the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SATM) being the elephant in the room.

“Affordability should be at the forefront of our strategy. The aviation sector should not be overtaxed and overburdened with charges compared to other sectors. After all, we want to encourage citizens to travel within our continent,” Kagame added.

The President also suggested that digital processes are adopted to manage travel health credentials to fast track development of the SATM.

“In the long run this will minimize airport disruptions and increase confidence in safety.”

ICAO estimates that passenger revenue losses for African airlines were at $10.2 billion last year, and the projections for 2021 are estimated to reach $8.2 billion.

Kagame maintained that as airlines work towards fully opening their routes, the adoption of the dispute settlement mechanism should be a priority.

“This will help create the impetus for more countries, to liberalise their bilateral air services agreement to sustain the gains already made, and the continent’s favourable demographics can be leveraged.”

He also said that the latter would require investment in people and also create necessary skills to help them take advantage of the wider social and economic benefits that the (SATM) market offers.

Gabriel Lesa, AFCAC President reiterated that the pandemic negatively affected aviation operations and exerted enormous pressure on the industry.

Despite the challenges however, the bureau of AFCAC with active support of member states were able to choke significant achievements.

Lesa said that some of the achievements include 35 member states who have now ratified the SATM commitment, the extension and operation assistance in the area of safety, security, and environmental protection program at SATM to 30 member states.

He also said that 24 airline candidate operators benefited from the International Air Transport Association certification program.

Lesa appreciated the out-going bureau for their dedication and service in advancing the course of aviation in Africa and also challenged the yet to be elected bureau to take on the same task.

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