The head of the Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) took the opportunity at this year’s Routes Africa forum in his home country to push aviation officials to help bring about a ‘United Africa’ to enable air transport to grow to its full potential. In his address to delegates during the event's Welcome Reception on the Olympic Pool Lawns at The Speke Resort and Conference Centre, Dr W Rama Makuza, Managing Director, Uganda CAA, reinforced a much heard message from around the continent and the need for enhanced connectivity and cooperation within the Continent.
Part of the reason for Africa’s under-served status is that many African countries restrict their air services markets to protect the share held by state-owned air carriers. This practice originated in the early 1960s when many newly-independent African states created national airlines, in part, to assert their status as nations.
Now, however, most have recognised that the strict regulatory protection that sustains such carriers, has detrimental effects of air safety records, while also inflating air fares and dampening air traffic growth and has actually led to the collapse of a number of flag carriers.
Indeed, African ministers responsible for civil aviation themselves acknowledged this in 1999, when they adopted the Yamoussoukro Decision, named for the Ivorian city in which it was agreed. It commits its 44 signatory countries to deregulate air services, and promote regional air markets open to transnational competition.
This followed up on the Yamoussoukro Declaration of 1988, in which many of the same countries agreed to principles of air services liberalisation. In 2000, the Decision was endorsed by head of states and governments at the Organization of African Unity, and became fully binding in 2002 but progress has been slow.
“The Yamoussoukro Decision made in the 1960s has yet to make any progress and is taking far too long,” explained Makuza to the audience of aviation and tourism officials, calling on them all to lobby Governments across Africa to push forward the process. “Wherever you are, tell the policy makers in individual states that Africa is the still the youngest in the business of air transport.”
“I would urge each of us that is here in different capacity contributing to air transport that we keep demanding for liberalising air transport because we need faster movement of goods and people with airlines between the States so that air transport can achieve what it has been achieved in other parts of the world,” he added.