As part of efforts to boost intra-African trade and liberalise air transportation in Africa, the Federal Government of Nigeria has concluded plans to review the bilateral air service agreements with 37 African Countries who are signatories to the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) and the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).
According to Daily Trust, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo who spoke at the just concluded 24th anniversary of the YD Day event in Abuja restated the commitment of Nigeria to the implementation of SAATM to open up the air transport market in Nigeria and the African continent. He spoke just as the Nigeria’s biggest airline, Air Peace, has commenced transit flights through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos to various regional and international cities with a view to connecting more African countries to the outside world.
Keyamo who underscored the import of the YD and SAATM reiterated air transport liberalisation is critical to boost intra-Africa trade which stands currently at 14.4% of total African exports. “Though African airlines have recorded a 34.7% surge in passenger traffic over the past year, the continent’s global passenger market share remains modest at 2.1%. Therefore, the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is a no- brainer in giving impetus to not just intra Africa trade, tourism, but SAATM would also reduce the continent’s trade deficit by 51%,” he said.
Stating that Nigeria has made a commitment to the full implementation of SAATM through the SAATM-Project Implementation Pilot (SAATM-PIP), he said, “I have also directed that our Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) with African Countries that are signatory to SAATM be reviewed in line with the provisions of Yamoussoukro Decision and the principles of reciprocity.” Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu said SAATM is a catalyst for the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement through the movement of people and goods across the continent.
Meanwhile, Air Peace and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, have created the first Transit Hub in Nigeria at the MMIA in Lagos. According to the airline, the transit international flights are: Accra-Mumbai-Accra, Accra-Jeddah-Accra, Accra-Johannesburg-Accra, Dakar-Jeddah and Dakar-Mumbai. The transit regional flights are: Accra-Freetown-Accra, Accra-Douala-Accra, Monrovia-Lome-Monrovia, Accra-Dakar-Accra, Lome-Accra-Lome and Accra-Banjul-Accra.