By Yared Tsegaye
Ethiopian Airlines together with the African Union Commission is set to launch the Single African Air Transport Market this Sunday here. The Single African Air Transport Market is the first AU Agenda 2063 Flagship project.
The launching of the Single African Air Transport follows the adoption of its declaration in January 2015 by the AU. 11 countries including Ethiopia have declared their Commitment to establish a Single African Air Transport Market through the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999.
The full implementation of the single-African air trade comes nearly two decade after the adoption of the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision. The Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebre-mariam noted that the project is a huge milestone for the inter-trade ties among African nations.
“We need to integrate and trade among ourselves. We need to have cross-border investments in Africa. The critical enabler for all trade, investment and tourism among Africa is Aviation,” said Tewolde.
Although there are big African carriers in the continent, according to Tewolde, the market share of intercontinental traffic between Africa and the rest of the world is controlled by non-African carriers; so as so 80 percent.
“All of us put together, airlines in Africa only controls 20 percent of the pie,” he said. He added that is fair which the airline is determined to change the picture.
Ahead of the launch event the government of Ethiopia has pledged its commitment towards the realization of effective implementation of Open Skies for trade and integration in Africa.
Minister of Transport, Ahmed Shide, reiterated Ethiopia’s commitment towards the realization of effective implementation of Open Skies for trade and integration in Africa.
He said the government of Ethiopia notifies it’s so long commitment for the unconditional implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market on reciprocity basis to all the 22 member states.
The minister further noted that Ethiopia has always been one of the pioneers and promoters of the Open Skies in Africa and, accordingly, it is one of the 11 champion countries that declared solemn commitment to establishing a Single African Air Transport Market.
“The implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market will be a driver of integration; the building of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.”
He said Africans need an Africa driven and managed by its own citizens, which represents a dynamic force in the international arena.
According to the data from the AU commission, the Flagship project, would create 300,000 additional direct and two million indirect jobs. It is expected to contribute immensely to the integration and socio-economic growth of the continent. The Single African Air Transport Market was created with the aim of enhancing connectivity, facilitating trade and tourism and creating employment.