[Editorial] Africa should commit to a speedy opening of airspace

During the African Union Summit that took place in Kigali in June 2016, one of the resolutions was to open the continent’s airspace by the end of 2017. A couple of weeks to the deadline, not more than 20 African countries have implemented the resolution. In our region, only Kenya and Rwanda are on board.

During the African Union Summit that took place in Kigali in June 2016, one of the resolutions was to open the continent’s airspace by the end of 2017. A couple of weeks to the deadline, not more than 20 African countries have implemented the resolution. In our region, only Kenya and Rwanda are on board.

At the Kigali Summit, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) were tasked with fast-tracking the African open sky policy

Incidentally, during the Aviation Africa event that took place in Kigali early this year, two key players were conspicuously absent during discussions on liberalising the African airspace; AUC and AFCAC, the very people in charge of tracing and implementing the roadmap.

This raised concerns on the seriousness of some of the key players or the lack of sense of urgency in implementing important policies that are beneficial to the continent’s economic fortunes.

The Heads of State and Government will meet again in Ethiopia early next year and air transport will again be the subject of discussions. It is expected that they will endorse the establishment of a single air transport market for Africa. But again the response has been very slow and, to date, only 20 countries have endorsed the idea.

Africa’s aviation industry has failed to take off because of such lethargy and the opportunities are slowly slipping through Africa’s fingers. With all the continent’s potential, it only shares between 4 and 5 per cent of the global aviation market. The Middle East and Asia Pacific have cornered the market and are reaping the benefits.

Do African leaders really need to be dragged by the hair in order to implement the Yamoussoukro Decision that was signed way back in 1999, when 44 nations committed to deregulate air services within Africa?

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