Lusaka, Monday, February 18, 2019: COMESA will this year intensify advocacy activities in 15 of its 21 Member States to ensure they sign the Solemn Commitment to Implement the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). So far only six COMESA countries comprising Egypt, Ethiopia, Eswatini, Kenya, Rwanda and Zimbabwe have signed the commitment.
On 28 – 29 January 2019, Africa aviation industry stakeholders met in Dakar, Senegal, and agreed to focus this year to finalize and execute the SAATM Implementation Road Map. They also agreed on the need for early completion of the 55-country study on SAATM socio-economic benefits to Africa.
The Single African Air Transport Market was launched by the African Union Heads of State and Government in January 2018. Shortly after, a prioritized joint action plan for 2018-2019 was developed by aviation industry stakeholders to operationalize the SAATM.
“One of the key activities in the prioritized action plan was the signing and implementation of the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs),” said Mr. Bernard Dzawanda, COMESA Senior Transport Economist who attended the Dakar meeting on the implementation of the Prioritized Action Plan for Operationalization of the Single African Air Transport Market 2018 – 2019.
COMESA signed the memorandum of the establishment of SAATM with AFCAC in 2018. It is currently the lead REC on the formulation and implementation of an eight million euros Eastern and Southern African aviation programme to be funded under 11th European Development Fund (EDF 11).
One of the three result areas of the four-year programme is to facilitate and support the operationalization of the single African air transport market.
“COMESA will intensify lobbying for the implementation of SAATM at its statutory meetings which involve directors of civil aviation, joint technical committee and ministers of infrastructure meetings from its Member States,” said Mr. Dzawanda, who represented COMESA at the meeting of aviation industry stakeholders on implementation of the Prioritized Action Plan for Operationalization of the Single African Air Transport Market 2018 – 2019 in Dakar.
The meeting provided a platform for aviation industry stakeholders to report on concrete actions taken towards implementation of the Abidjan Plan and proposed actions for 2019, including any other on-going interventions in the civil aviation industry.
The East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Commission of Western Africa States (ECOWAS) were part of the RECs that reported on progress. EAC was the first to sign the memorandum on the implementation of the SAATM with AFCAC and is participating in the EDF 11 funded aviation programme led by COMESA.
In ECOWAS, 13 out of its 15 members have signed the Commitment with the remaining two states expected to come on board soon.
The prioritized action plans of the SAATM are based on six pillars: advocacy for effective operationalization of Single African Air Transport Market; a regulatory framework to ensure availability of appropriate regulations for the oversight of the SAATM; operationalization of SAATM; aviation infrastructure; enhancing safety and security and aviation financing.