The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, says Nigeria is committed to the full implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), which will be inaugurated on Friday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

SAATM, is a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063, an initiative of the AU, to create a single unified air transport market in Africa, the liberalisation of civil aviation in Africa and as an impetus to the Continent’s economic integration agenda.

Sirika gave the assurance on Tuesday at a sensitisation workshop on SAATM in Lagos.

The workshop which has as theme: “SAATM Implementation: It’s Impact on the Nigerian Aviation Industry and National Economy,” was organised by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

Sirika, who was represented by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, noted that the SAATM, would be inaugurated during the AUC meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

According to him, Africa must leverage on the immense potential offered by SAATM and the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) to enhance traffic connectivity and significant growth in passengers volumes over the next few years.

“We must all therefore strive to commit to the full implementation and operationalisation of SAATM, we need to leap forward so as to become an effective global competitor in aviation.

“In this regard, Nigeria being one of the pioneer Member States signatories to YD, is one of the 23 states that have so far made solemn commitment to the implementation of SAATM by 2018.

“We have constituted a National implementation committee to review all the subsisting Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs) to be in consonance with the YD while the process of domesticating the decision is currently at the advance stage.

“Nigeria recognises the need to provide for enhanced traffic growth that will be an offshoot of the full operationalisation of SAATM,” he said.

The minister said currently, some of the International airports were being expanded with the addition of new terminal.

He said the government had also approved the concession of the major international airports in its efforts to reposition them for better service delivery.

“Ladies and gentlemen at this juncture, I will like to reiterate the importance of working together towards achieving the AU agenda 2063 in the area of Air transportation integration (Full Implementation of SAATM).

“This will boost inter-Africa trade, tourism, infrastructural developments and other socio-economic benefits for our sub-region,” Sirika said.

Also, the Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, said the importance of SAATM to African aviation cannot be over-emphasised.

“Thus, it is imperative that we organise this sensitisation workshop to intensify awareness campaign among the critical stakeholders on the impact as well as benefits of SAATM on the industry and national economy.

“In this regard, I wish to enjoin all stakeholders to come together to improve the aviation support base in Nigeria and embrace as well as harness the opportunities that SAATM offers,” Usman said.

In order to move the continent forward towards the concrete implementation of the AU Agenda 2063, the 24th Assembly of Head of States and Government, which took place between Jan. 30 and Jan. 31, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, adopted the Declaration on the Establishment of a SAATM.

Eleven African Member States championed the Declaration by signing the Solemn Commitment to actualise the Yamoussoukro Decision creating the single market.

These Member States were constituted as a Ministerial Working Group with the responsibility to follow-up implementation progress, provide guidance, and spearhead the advocacy campaign to urge more Member States to join the single market.

In May 2016, the AUC wrote to those States that have signed the Solemn Commitment to highlight a number of concrete measures for them to undertake to initiate operationalisation of the single air transport market in the continent as soon as possible.

Among these measures, each State is required to officially publish in accordance with its national regulations or gazette that they are committed to the immediate implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision under the terms of the Declaration of Solemn Commitment in line with the AU Agenda 2063.

The AUC also requested the States to report on actions taken in implementing the outlined measures as indicated in the letter.

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