Shipping & Logistics

EAC pushes for Africa single aviation market to cut costs

mathuki

EAC Secretary-General Peter Mutuku Mathuki at a January 17 briefing in Nairobi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

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Summary

  • EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki said cargo currently accounts for only two percent of the global air trade arguing that air transport remains out of reach for both passenger and cargo haulage due to high costs.
  • Regional airlines have been pushing for open skies policy to allow national carriers to move without restrictions to other countries, but this is yet to be achieved.

East African Community has called on African leaders to urgently implement the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) agreement to address the high costs of air transport in the region and boost development.

EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki said cargo currently accounts for only two percent of the global air trade arguing that air transport remains out of reach for both passenger and cargo haulage due to high costs.

“These costs can be brought down if we have political commitment to implement the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) agreement,” said Mr Mathuki during the 7th Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) forum last week.

Regional airlines have been pushing for open skies policy to allow national carriers to move without restrictions to other countries, but this is yet to be achieved.

This comes at a time when African nations are protecting their airlines from stiff competition, putting in doubt whether the dream of an open sky policy will be achieved.

In 1988, a number of African countries came together with the view of creating open airspace for ease of movement and boost trade on the continent in what was called Yamoussoukro Declaration.

In 2000, the decision was endorsed by heads of state and government at the Organisation of African Unity, — now African Union— and became fully binding in 2002.

However, to date, not much has been done in regard to the adoption of the open skies policy by member states as 14 nations have not ratified the treaty.

The EAC secretary-general noted that the region continues to ramp up investments in infrastructure to narrow the gap and enhance intermodal connectivity.

“These investments have yielded impressive results; for instance, the transit time from Mombasa to Kampala has improved from 20 days in 2010 to an average of six days in 2021, with a resultant cost reduction from $3,500 in 2010 to $2,200,” he said.

Mr Mathuki also commended African leaders for prioritising investment in one-stop border posts (OSBPs), which have facilitated transboundary trade by enhancing border crossing efficiency.

“The use of technology at OSBPs has improved sharing and exchange of information among agencies, enhanced border security, reduced processing times at the border transit for traders and transporters, and enhanced the reliability of the supply chain through streamlined and harmonised procedures,” he said.

Use of technology, he added, has enhanced regional competitiveness and led to implementation of initiatives such as the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTs), Single Customs Territory (SCT), and upgrading Customs Management Systems.

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