As the continent continues to improve on connecting African countries through air flights, the secretary general of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), Funke Adeyemi has said that the huge benefits of implementing the Single African Air Transport Market Project (SAATM) in the continent’s single transport market, will accelerate air connectivity across Africa.
Adeyemi had explained during a meeting with stakeholders that the implementation of SAATM in Nigeria, will scale up the contribution of the Aviation sector’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the current 0.5 percent to 1 percent and also increase air traffic by 54 percent.
Generally, she noted that the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market Project (SAATM), will contribute $7.2 billion to Africa’s GDP, create 600 million jobs, and grow air traffic in 2 to 3 years to 5.1 percent with additional 16 million people using the service.
But “protectionism among states and airline operators wherein the state and the operators are not willing to open up the market due to competition,” she said presents a clog in the wheel of these plans, asserting that competition and connectivity are necessary for the growth of the aviation industry.
Adeyemi mentioned other challenges such as restrictions by states, visa openness, and late approval for landing.
Meanwhile, Airpeace’s CEO, Allen Oyeama has said that Nigerian airlines are not against open skies, but the implementation must be fair to all concerned and gave Cote D’Ivoire ten days ultimatum to grant it access to operate in that country or face showdown.
Oyeama’s argument was that while Nigeria opened its aviation sector to almost free access to African countries, other African countries, especially West African countries have continued to deny Nigerian carriers access to their countries, adding that the practice is unhealthy and will be challenged henceforth.
He also said the actions by Cote D’Ivoire and African countries like Togo and the Benin Republic, are against the principle of reciprocity contained in the bilateral air services agreements (BASAs) they signed, adding that the sky is too wide to cause conflict among African airlines as Nigeria is the best market for them.
Onyeama said that Nigeria lacks nationalism which is why other countries take advantage.
He also complained about unfair billings by Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), stating that the spirit of Pan-Africanism must be activated instead of unfair business practices.
To address this, Adeyemi however stressed that the commission will be going country by country to address some of the challenges of SAATM and see how to make a change.
Also, the director general of, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, stressed the need for countries that have committed to the implementation of SAATM to start implementation so that when other countries see the effect on the GDP and employment generation they will follow suit.