AU to launch single African air transport market

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The African Union (AU) is set to launch the first AU Agenda 2063 flagship project, the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the ongoing AU Summit.

The AU has been playing a key coordinating role in the establishment of SAATM and advocacy to AU member states who have not yet committed to the solemn commitment to do so, said AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Amani

Abou-Zeid in a statement released by the pan-African bloc on Monday.

The launch of SAATM, expected on Jan. 28, will spur more opportunities to promote trade, cross-border investments in the production and service industries including tourism, resulting in the creation of an additional 300,000 direct and 2 million indirect jobs, said the commissioner, adding that the launch of SAATM will contribute immensely to the integration and socio-economic growth of the continent.

The aviation industry currently supports 8 million jobs in Africa and that SAATM was created with the aim of enhancing connectivity, facilitating trade and tourism, creating employment, and ensuring that the industry plays a more prominent role in the global economy and significantly contributing to the AU’s Agenda 2063, according to Abou-Zeid.

As the first of the AU’s 12 Agenda 2063 flagship projects to be launched, the implementation of SAATM will pave the way for other flagship projects like the African Passport and enabling the Free Movement of People, the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), said the commissioner.

The AU summit will also see the adoption of the regulatory text of the Yamoussoukro Decision, which is the competition and consumer protection regulations that safeguards the efficient operation of the market, the commissioner added.

An exhibition billed “Flying the AU Agenda 2063 for an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa” will be unveiled to mark the launch, as well as the inauguration of a commemorative plaque, according to the AU.

So far, 23 African countries out of 55 have subscribed to the Single African Air Transport Market, whereas 44 African countries have signed the Yamoussoukro Decision, read the statement.

The declaration on the establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market was adopted by the AU Assembly in January 2015. Immediately thereafter, 11 AU member states declared their Solemn Commitment to establishing an SAATM through full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999, which provides for full liberalization of market access between African states, free exercise of traffic rights, elimination of restrictions on ownership and full liberalization of frequencies, fares and capacities.

To date, the number of AU member states that have adhered to the Solemn Commitment has reached 23.

The 30th AU Summit kicked off Monday at the headquarters of the AU in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

Under the theme “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation,” the summit started with the 35th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives’ Committee of the AU from Jan. 22 to 23.

The meeting will prepare the agenda of the summit with recommendations for consideration by the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, scheduled for Jan. 25-26.

The Executive Council meeting will be followed by the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the AU from Jan. 28 to 29.

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