There are 4 recent major policy events, when it comes to air transport liberalization in Africa, namely:

  1. The Yamoussoukro Declaration of 1988.
  2. The Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999 (endorsed by Africa Heads of State and Government in July 2000, entry into force in 2001). The Decision was signed by 44 Member States.
  3. in January 2015 the African Union Assembly adopted the Declaration on the establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) as well as the Solemn Commitment towards advancing concrete and unconditional implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision. 11 African Member States championed the Declaration by signing the Solemn Commitment to actualise the Decision creating the single market.
  4. The launch of the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) in January 2018, by the 30th Ordinary Summit of the African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (23 States committed to implementation at the time of launch, now at 35 member States).

The Yamoussoukro Decision (“YD”) finds it origins in the Yamoussoukro Declaration of 1988. The objectives of the said declaration were summarized as follows:

  1. To integrate African airlines within a period of eight years spread out in three phases during which the problems of traffic rights, tariffs and improvement of the management of African airlines will be examined with a view to reaching a compromise and finding appropriate solutions;
  2. To define a common African position regarding the Computer reservation system and all new decisions on noise standards;
  3. To establish an African aircraft financing and leasing company in order to facilitate the procurement of aeronautical equipment.

The 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision (“YD”) was adopted to accelerate the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Declaration, especially in the area relating to the granting of traffic rights, regional cooperation in air transport and the role of Governments. The YD was also borne out of the identified need to centralize, harmonize and coordinate the different efforts in the African sub-regions to merge, privatize and liberalize air transport services. The YD recognized the different levels of air transport development in Africa and specifically speaks to the need to adopt transitional provisions in order to achieve full liberalization of air transport in Africa.

During the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the OAU/AU in 2013, the African Union (AU) leadership expressed the desire to give a stronger and more ambitious impetus to the Continent’s socio-economic development and integration agenda. On that occasion, the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 was elaborated and flagship projects were selected based on their high potential for socio economic integration which will improve the standard of living for all Africans. Among these projects is the creation of a Single African Air Transport Market. This Decision is the final major pronouncement towards the establishment of the SAATM by the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the AU. Just like the YD, the road to the establishment of the SAATM started as a “Declaration” in 2015. In the same year, a “Solemn Commitment” was declared by AU Member States towards the Implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision and the establishment of SAATM.

The Decision placed emphasis on Member States abolishing any provisions in their Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASAs) for intra-African air services that were contrary to the provisions of the Yamoussoukro Decision. The expectation was for the intra-African market to operate without the need for bilateral air service agreements between Member States when the SAATM becomes fully operational. Since the launch of the SAATM in 2018, under the leadership of AFCAC, in its capacity as the Executing Agency, all the key activities mentioned in the AU Decision (and more) are being addressed along industry stakeholders.

“African Unity means the pooling of all our economic resources for ourmaterial well-being.”
François Tombalbaye, First President of Chad