President Kagame calls for Single African Air Transport Market

President Kagame has called for the full implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) in order to facilitate the aviation industry recovery following the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The President was speaking at the opening of the ongoing Aviation Africa Summit underway at the Kigali Convention Centre.

The Single African Air Transport Market is a project of the African Union to create a single market for air transport in Africa. Once completely in force, the single market is supposed to allow significant freedom of air transport in Africa, advancing the AU's Agenda 2063.

Primarily, the goal of the SAATM is to fully implement the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision. This means that all participants agree to lift market access restrictions for airlines, remove restrictions on ownership, grant each other extended air traffic rights, and liberalize flight frequency and capacity limits. Both passenger and cargo aviation are included.

Oversight over the SAATM is exercised by the African Union, its Regional Economic Communities, and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC).

Twenty-three member states of the African Union originally agreed to join the SAATM as starting participants. As of July 2022, there were 34 countries participating.

The Head of State said air transport can be a solution to the challenges of accessibility of countries which has been long cited as a challenge to development.

Kagame added that Rwanda is doing its part in developing its air transport sector by investing in Rwanda’s national carrier, Rwandair through increasing its routes.

"Currently our National Carrier, Rwandair serves 24 routes, nineteen of which are in Africa. We intend to continue expanding within the continent and abroad" President Kagame said.

The president also talked about the partnership between Rwanda and Qatar in the construction of the new Bugesera International Airport.

"We are working together with our partner Qatar Airways to grow Rwandair and build Kigali's New International Airport currently under construction into a regional hub for passengers and cargo.

Furthermore, President Kagame said in order to accelerate the growth of the aviation industry countries must address the shortage of skills across the aviation value chain.

The 6th Aviation Africa Summit and Exhibition 2022 kicked off today in Kigali.

The two-day event brings together African and global leaders and industry experts who will discuss key issues facing the aviation sector and propose sustainable solutions.