Need I say Moores

Putting promises into action

Africa has been trying to liberalize its skies for the past 30 years. Lots of promises have been signed – some of them legally binding – but barriers still remain. When will the continent move from bureaucracy to action?

Back in 1999, 44 African states signed the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD), binding them to implement African open skies by 2002. Fast forward to 2018 and African open skies is still in its infancy.

Lots of agreements have been signed. Africa comprises roughly 54 states. Of these, 44 signed up to the YD. Then the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) was launched in January 2018 to reinvigorate the YD. So far, only 27 of the 44 YD signatories have signed up to the SAATM.

This total is further-thinned, because each state has to go through seven ‘Concrete Measures’ to implement the SAATM. Of the 27 SAATM states, 14 have completed Concrete Measures 1-3. Nine states have completed Measures 4-5, five have completed Measure 6 and six have done Measure 7.

Since May 2018, 15 SAATM members have also signed a SAATM and YD memorandum of implementation (MoI), aimed at complementing the Concrete Measures and removing restrictive provisions in existing bilateral agreements.

I’ve been covering this process for 15 years. While I appreciate that air-transport liberalization is extremely complex, signing more and more agreements – when the original agreement was already legally binding – seems futile.

The African Civil Aviation Commission (‏AFCAC) is responsible for making YD and SAATM a reality. Hopefully the body’s new secretary general, Tefera Mekonnen, will share his predecessor’s passion and drive to make African open skies finally happen.

After all, the sustainability of African air transport depends on action, not promises.

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@informa.com

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