Nigeria, nine others spurn SAATM

Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya – Africa’s engine rooms – are among the more than 10 countries that failed to sign the implementation of the Singl

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Airlines

Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya – Africa’s engine rooms – are among the more than 10 countries that failed to sign the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

The deal was signed last week in Nairobi.

This is despite earlier indications that they would, exposing reservations countries still have in opening up their airspace.

African Union Commission, the custodian of the Memorandum of Implementation and African Civil Aviation Commission, which is the executing agency of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) had announced that 13 African countries would sign into the implementation of the SAATM.

The signatories were Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Gabon, The Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe would have pushed to 27 the countries who would have started implementing the open skies policy.

However, by the end of the meeting, only The Gambia, Botswana and Burkina Faso had kept their word.

In May, 14 African states including Rwanda signed the implementation protocol in Lome, Togo.

“Kenya is also committed towards the full realisation of the African Union’s initiative that will see Africa converging into one air service market.

To this end, Kenya is one of the 25 states that have so far signed up for the SAATM,” Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said, while opening the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Air Services Negotiations conference in Nairobi.

However despite President Kenyatta’s optimism, Kenya did not come through on its word to sign up to its implementation, having signed the solemn commitment earlier this year.

Kenya is yet to align its national laws with the treaty and as such it could not sign on to its implementation.

“The ratification has to go through parliament and we are made aware that some countries are yet to do that. That could explain their no-show at the signing ceremony,” The EastAfrican was told.

The concerns of the countries that gave last week’s event a wide berth included terms and conditions that states need to develop between the regional countries on its local implementation.

The SAATM is operational in 14 countries, mostly West Africa with states like Togo already operationalising it through agreements with other countries, where cross-border flights are now treated as domestic flights in the region.

The African Civil Aviation Commission’s secretary general Tefera Mekonnen told The EastAfrican that despite the poor showing at the signing ceremony, he remained optimistic that that the remaining countries would come around and commit to the agreement.

“We know that the delay in their commitment is a result of consultations and also aligning their laws to accommodate this new dawn. I am confident that these countries will commit to the decision in the coming days. So far we are positive on the progress of the signing of the memorandum of implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision,” Mr Tefera said.

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