‘Open sky transport will benefit Africa’

The proposed African open sky air transport agreement would be a catalyst for development on the continent, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Elban Mahmood said on Friday.

“It is very clear that no country from outside the continent, or no company will look for an open sky agreement for nothing. When there is an open sky agreement for African airlines, it will facilitate the movement of people and goods in the continent,” Mahmood told reporters.

“That will increase business in the continent, tourism and all the businesses related to tourism, trade and industrialisation. It is clear that there is big benefit for the (African) to have this agreement.”

She said there were currently 24 “open sky” agreements between some African countries and other regions out of the continent. There was no such agreement between African states.

Terms of the open sky agreement would allow airlines from African countries to operate in any combination of cities on the continent. Such a move would result in reduced fuel taxes and greater connectivity between African countries which would in turn result in better viability in the aviation sector.

Mahmood said a study was conducted into the probable benefits of an open sky agreement in 12 African countries.

“The results were that if those 12 countries decided to open skies for each other, 155 000 jobs would be created and US $ 1, 3 billion would be added to the GDPs (gross domestic products) of these countries. So imagine, if that is only for 12 countries, how will it be if all the 54 countries have this open sky and single market for air transport?” she asked.

“As African Union and as a commission, at the last summit we discussed with the countries that are ready to start the implementation of the Yamoussoukro decision. At the beginning, seven countries were ready and during the summit … another four countries declared their commitment to be part of this. We now have 11 countries.”

She said the implementation was scheduled for 2017.

Under the 1999 Yamoussoukro Declaration, adopted in Cote d’Ivoire, delegates from 44 African countries agreed to work towards the the implementation of the open sky agreement.

File: An open sky agreement will increase business on the continent, tourism and all the businesses related to tourism, trade and industrialisation an AU commissioner said. Photo: eNCA

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