To date, only 10 African countries have taken effective steps to accelerate the operationalization of the Open Sky Continental project.
This is in a context where Africa’s aviation industry remains one of the least performant worldwide, mainly as a result of a protectionist trend recorded across the continent.
To boost African aviation, last year, Togo’s President, Faure Gnassingbé, took major steps to implement the agreement for a single African air transport market (SAATM). Yet, the procedure still delays with only ten countries, out of the 28, (75%-80% of Africa’s air traffic), signing the agreement. Among the signees are Togo, Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria. The delay is due mainly to concerns of some adhering countries.
Experts attribute the concerns to some airlines, even in countries that already signed the agreement, fearing more competition.
Big airlines benefit from substantial State subsidies and “they could end smaller local airlines which have no means to compete with them,” declared Sebastian Mikosz, CEO of Kenya Airways, at a recent press conference. In some countries also, taxes have been increased, thus affecting some airlines’ profits.
In the mid-term, Africa’s air traffic is expected to grow more rapidly (+5% yearly) than more mature markets. However, African airlines will barely profit from the boom and should actually, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), lose this year $100 million, while globally, the aviation industry is expected to record a profit of $28 billion.