The Minister of Aviation and Aero Development, Festus Keyamo, has said implementation of a Single African Air Transport Market would reduce Intra-African trade deficit by 51 per cent.
He disclosed at a workshop on African Aviation Market Integration Single African Air Transport Market, Regulatory Framework, organised by the African Civil Aviation Commission and themed “Africa Wants to Fly” on Tuesday in Abuja.
He also stated that the quest to increase air connectivity between African countries cannot be achieved without the involvement of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
“Presently, intra-African trade stands low at just 14.4 per cent of total African exports. Though African airlines have recorded a 34.7 per cent surge in passenger traffic over the past year, the continent’s global passenger market share remains modest at 2.1 per cent.
“Therefore, the Single African Air Transport Market is a no-brainer in giving impetus to not just intra-African trade, and tourism, but SAATM would also reduce the continent’s trade deficit by 51 per cent,” he asserted.
The minister stressed the need to eliminate barriers inhibiting the growth of air connectivity in Africa.
He added that the collaboration of the foreign affairs ministry of all African countries would speed up the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision about the Liberalisation of Access to Air Transport Markets in Africa.
He said, “Well, let me say something that I think we have all been missing and if I am wrong, let me know. Why have we not brought foreign affairs ministers into the action plan? I think that is what we are missing. I’ve not been around too long, but the moment I came in, I began to identify what we need to do in addition to what we have been doing.
“If you don’t bring the foreign affairs ministers of Africa into the heart of this struggle, you will not achieve anything. If you understand how governments work.
“When the heads of state are preparing for meetings in the African Union, it is the foreign affairs ministers who are there with them and not the aviation minister.”
According to Keyamo, the foreign affairs minister prepares the agenda and presidents for such meetings.
“So, if you want it to be top of the agenda in AU, bring the foreign affairs ministers into the action plan.
“They need to be here now. I expect that the foreign affairs ministers along with the aviation ministers should have been invited to this event and subsequent events from today. We need to resolve here today to bring our foreign affairs along with the aviation ministers into this fold. It is this twin approach that can make us push our agenda as quickly as possible,” he stated.
Earlier in his address, the Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, Captain Musa Nuhu, noted that without a single air market, the African Continental Free Trade Area would remain a mirage.