Transport ministers debate opening Africa’s skies
Transport ministers from a dozen African countries gathered outside Pretoria, South Africa, on Wednesday to discuss opening the continent's skies. The result of their deliberations will be presented to the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa next week.
It has been 12 years since African leaders signed the Yamoussoukro agreement on liberalising air transport over the continent.
The AU Commission headed Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is prioritising this as part of the continental body's Agenda 2063.
The ministers meeting in South Africa represent African countries with flagship carriers or air traffic hubs.
Their hostess, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, said South Africa identifies air transport as a major instrument in the fight against the triple evils of unemployment, inequality and poverty.
Africa is becoming the third fastest-growing market for air transport, yet continental regulations governing aviation lag behind the rest of world.
African countries must forge aviation links with each other before looking further afield, Pieters said, adding that Africans have traditionally found the quickest way of getting to each other.
Why then are Africans forced to travel to Europe before they can reach Tunisia and other parts of their own continent?
Liberalisation between 12 African countries with airlines will provide an extra 155,000 jobs and 1.3 billion dollars (1.1 billion euros) in annual GDP, the minister said.
It will also provide for five million passengers currently denied these by restrictive practices.