ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) Commission aims to have at least 40 AU member states join the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) by the end of 2019, according to the AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Abou-Zeid Amani.
Speaking to a press conference on Friday on the sidelines of the ongoing 32nd AU summit at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Amani said the 55-member pan-African bloc has undertaken intensive advocacy for countries to join the SAATM.
Currently, 28 member states are in the market, covering more than 700 million persons, the AU Commissioner said, stating that all member states would be in the market by 2021.
"Member states in the market have taken measures to harmonize their bilateral air service agreements (BASAs) with 16 countries signing memorandum of implementation, removing all restrictions in their BASAs to make them compliant with the provisions of the Yamoussoukro decision on the liberalization of air transport markets in Africa," she noted.
Sufficient resources have been mobilized to enable the effective functioning of the Executive Agency of SAATM, and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AfCAC), and the AU Commission and the AfCAC are in the process of disseminating the competition and consumer protection regulations for SAATM, she said.
The AU summit in January last year launched the SAATM with 23 member states with a target to speed up connectivity across the continent, leading to sustainable development of the aviation and tourism industries with immense contribution to economic growth, job creation, prosperity, and integration of Africa.
"Therefore, the SAATM is expected to have great impact on successful implementation of the African continental free trade area (AfCFTA), and the protocol on free movement of persons, which are also priority flagship projects of the AU Agenda 2063," the AU Commissioner has noted.
The successful establishment and operationalization of the SAATM is vital to achieve AU's long-term vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, the commissioner said.