AFCFTA: Sirika calls for implementation of SAATM, African Union Passport
Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation has called for the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and the proposed African Union Passport among others.
Speaking during the maiden implementation engagement series for the aviation industry by Nigeria’s National Action Committee on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), Sirika explained that for effective implementation of AFCFTA in the aviation sub-sector, the national action committee needs to look into challenges in the implementation of SAATM itself.
He suggested that there needs to be harmonisation of border management protocols to enable seamless facilitation of goods and people as this is important for perishable goods.
“For example, you cannot fly bananas across borders and keep them in the storage facilities for days. There should be efforts to fast-track the implementation of African Union Passport to eliminate the requirement for visa. This can facilitate easy movement for businesses or frequent flyers across the continent.
“The whole essence of civil aviation is to create efficiency in journeys as we advocate for the strengthening of AFCAC (African Civil Aviation Commission) to harmonise civil aviation regulations for aviation service providers in order to actualise the Yamoussoukro decision and SAATM which is the flagship project for the African Union Agenda 2063,” the minister said.
He stressed on the need to enforce appropriate rules and regulations to give fair and equal opportunities to all stakeholders and promote fair competition.
“We also advocate for special support for the aviation industry specifically, to upgrade fast-track systems in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu in a view to matching international best standards.
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“In our own modest way in Nigeria, we have developed these five airports. We have completed Abuja, Port Harcourt and put to use, Kano is completed and will be put to use in March, Lagos will be put to use in the same March and Enugu in due course,” he added.
Musa Nuhu, director-general of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority,(NCAA) explained that Nigeria being the dominant market in Western and Central Africa and a major market in the continent, has excellent opportunities and potentials and these have been largely ignored or not exploited over the years.
Nuhu further explained that it was a significant opportunity for Nigerian airline operators to go into the cargo business and transport these goods massively and in a few hours to their destination countries.
Funke Adeyemi, director for Africa with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the convener of the engagement described aviation as an accelerator and the only sector that can traverse borders quickly with speed and relatively safely, because of all the technical standards that are put in place since 1945.
“We believe aviation can really be an accelerator for the AFCFTA and so does African Union which is why they have three flagship projects which they launched in 2018 and 2019 starting with the Single African Air Transport Market.
“What SAATM is designed to do is to create a Pan African air transport market; almost a domestic market across Africa that connects cities by air,” Adeyemi said.