Ethiopia vows to support AU’s single African air transport market initiative

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The Ethiopian government on Tuesday vowed to support African Union’s (AU) flagship project dubbed the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

The AU on Monday announced that it will launch the first AU Agenda 2063 flagship project, the SAATM, as part of the ongoing 30th AU leaders Summit in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Transport and the Ethiopian Airlines Group, in a joint press conference on Tuesday, announced their full support towards the realization of AU’s “single African skies initiative.”

Ahmed Shide, Ethiopian Minister of Transport, said that the initiative would “pave the way for other flagship projects such as the free trade area and the free movement of people.”

According to Shide, Ethiopia has always been one of the pioneers in promoting the free skies in Africa and it is also one of the 11 champion countries that declared their commitment to establishing a single African air transport market.

The launch of SAATM, which is scheduled on Jan. 28, is expected to 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, according to the pan-African block.

Shide further stressed that the realization of SAATM would be attained through the immediate implementation of the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision, which is the full liberalization of intra-African air transport services in terms of access, capacity and frequency.

“The realization of SAATM is vital to the achievement of the long term vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, which is AU’s Agenda 2063,” Shide stressed.

Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Group, also dubbed the initiative as a “huge milestone for the continent.”

Noting the intra-Africa trade which stands at 20 percent of the total trade in the continent, Gebremariam stressed that African countries “need to integrate, trade and invest cross border investments among each other.”

According to Gebremariam, air connectivity is the economic engine that would help augment the tourism, trade and other important sectors in the African continent.

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.

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