The Federal Government of Nigeria has pledged to support any policies and programmes that would project the full implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) in Nigeria.
This announcement was made by the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika during the SAATM-PIP Cluster 1 Coalition Roadshow hosted by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in Abuja.
The SAATM project was launched on November 14, 2023, by the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) in collaboration with states and partners to accelerate the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) leading to the full and sustainable implementation of SAATM. The project aims to improve continental connectivity and integration by accelerating air transport liberalisation in Africa.
During the event, Sirika’s representative, Dr. Emmanuel Meribole acknowledged that the air transport market in sub-Saharan Africa presents a strong dichotomy in southern and eastern Africa, where the market is growing, with few major African carriers dominating international and domestic markets. In contrast, Central and Western Africa is stagnating, with the vacuum created by the collapse of mostly state-owned airlines and a few privately owned airlines in the region.
Also, Sirika commended the AFCAC and the NCAA for their efforts in promoting the implementation of International Civil Aviation Organisations International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for Civil Aviation Safety Oversight in the region, as well as being the driver and promoter of the Yamoussoukro Declaration (YD) and the SAATM.
The NCAA director-general, Capt. Musa Nuhu expressed optimism that SAATM will enhance intra-African connections and make the movement of passengers and cargo smooth with minimum transit points at competitive prices. However, he also highlighted the need for collective efforts to address the issues of non-physical barriers, including the high cost of travel within the region.
The secretary-general of AFCAC, Adefunke Adeyemi disclosed that the immediate goal of AFCAC working with all stakeholders is to improve the 5th Freedom Traffic penetration in Africa from the current level of 14.5 per cent to 30 per cent by 2025. “As more 5th freedom traffic rights are granted through liberalisation,” she said, “airlines can connect more city pairs in Africa, leading to the full maximization of the benefits associated with the direct and indirect gains from a competitive environment”.
Adeyemi also encouraged all eligible Nigerian airlines to take advantage of SAATM and expand their operations across Africa. She urged them to invest in infrastructure to ensure safe, secure, efficient, sustainable and competitive operational environments that promote easy connectivity, business growth and job creation across the African continent.
In conclusion, the Nigerian government’s support for the full implementation of SAATM is a significant step towards achieving a seamless air transport system in Africa. With concerted efforts from all stakeholders, the project can help improve connectivity and integration on the continent, boost intra-African trade and promote economic growth and development.