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The chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamt, has called on the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other funding partners to expedite resource mobilization efforts toward the full operationalization of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

The chairperson made the remarks on Monday during the opening of the 4th edition of the Ministerial Working Group on SAATM being held in Lome, Togo, in line with AU’s efforts to ensure that African countries fully implement key measures needed for the initiative to operate effectively, according to a statement from the pan-African bloc on Tuesday.

The meeting is held with renewed commitment to implementing the decision establishing the SAATM and to harmonize all bilateral air services agreements (BASAs) to ensure the removal of any restrictions that run counter to the Yamoussoukro Decision, said the statement.

The meeting also takes stock of the implementation status of the SAATM and explore ways to accelerate the harmonization of air service agreements between the member states of the single market.

During the meeting, member states that do not currently have any air service agreements are also expected to conclude Yamoussoukro Decision-compliant BASAs as appropriate, the statement said.

In his opening remarks, the AUC chairperson reiterated that the SAATM is the first of the 13 Agenda 2063 flagship projects, considered priority for continental economic integration, to be launched in January 2018, during the 31st Ordinary Summit of AU Heads of State and Government.

Other flagship Agenda 2063 flagship projects include the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and the Free Movement of People and Goods and the African Passport, he said.

Commending the stakeholders such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), for their contribution to the operationalization of SAATM, Mahamat said the AU is seeking technical assistance for member states to improve the level of aviation safety and security to meet the minimum global requirements.

The chairperson commended the efforts of the Ministerial Working Group (MWG) in the development of a roadmap of specific activities for both the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision and the establishment of the single market as well as the establishment of the Dispute Settlement Mechanism.

He urged the group to spearhead an advocacy campaign to urge the rest of the member states to join the single market and to encourage them to abide by provisions of the Yamoussoukro Decision.

The pan-African bloc inaugurated the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) in January this year, with President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe of Togo as the champion of the initiative.

Speaking during the ongoing meeting in Lome, the Togo leader called for a robust advocacy campaign to make more people aware of the unique opportunity that the SAATM offers for the development of African economies and citizens.

According to the AU, the SAATM is expected to spur more opportunities to promote trade, cross-border investments in the production and service industries, including tourism, resulting in the creation of an additional 300,000 direct and 2 million indirect jobs. Enditem

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