African countries advised to speed airline liberalization deal

African countries, which signed single African air transport market agreement to liberalize air transport of the continent, are urged to speed the implementation of the deal and reap the benefits.

Commenting on the reluctance of the countries to speed up the implementation of the agreement, Robert Lisinge, Chief, Energy, Infrastructure and Services Section, at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) indicated that there could be several reasons including the need to clarify what it means to liberalize and absence of clear dispute mechanisms, among other reasons.

He also stated that some African countries may not want some big airlines to dominate the market and aims to protect. The Solemn commitment was signed by 35 African countries in 2015. In his presentation David indicated that the implementation of the single air transport market in Africa will have a substantial benefit for the economy of African countries.

The benefits include 27.4% average fare reduction across Africa providing over $1.5 billion saving per annum; $1.7 billion additional tourism spending per year; 597,460 additional jobs and $4.2 billion additional GDP across Africa (0.17% total GDP of AU countries).

“The fact that 35 African countries have signed shows that they are in favor of liberalizing. There is issue in clearly defining what liberalizing air transport means. Based on Yamoussoukro Declaration…ECA has been doing dashboard with African Development Bank. It has been subjective …The issue has not been scientific,” Robert said, during the online briefing on the transportation sector of Africa this afternoon.

“We also have regulation related issues on consumer regulations. Dispute settlement has to be there in case of flight delays etc… We need to be really specific when we talk about liberalization of African air transport. Some countries are trying to protect their national airlines,” he said a head of the continental meeting on transportation expected to be opened tomorrow in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The wide uptake of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by member States is expected to generate important increases of demand for a variety of transport modes and services, both as services inputs for trades activities and also as result of increased capacities of populations to travel. This foreseen surge of transport sector activities needs to be backed up by the development of adequate transport infrastructure, but also by a suitable handling of transport costs and their evolution.

Transport price movements in the distant and recent past are good indicators of trends in the future, including in crisis periods, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.