President Muhammadu Buhari urged African leaders to develop a single African Air Transport Market, which he says offers the continent a great opportunity to build a continental aviation sector and also, an opportunity to grow the ACfTA potential for regional value chains and investments.
The President disclosed this at the 51st Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA Africa Region) on Thursday, in Abuja, represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, themed: “African parliaments and the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.’’
The President said the transport market would enable efficient movement of people and services in the continent, citing the necessity after covid hit African economies hard.
What the President said
“Virtually, all African countries have had cases; with over 6 million people affected and well over 150,000 deaths.
“Already troubling levels of poverty and joblessness have worsened here in Africa and about 40 million people are estimated to have been pushed into extreme poverty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, while unemployment in large African Commonwealth countries, like Nigeria and South Africa, is over 30%.’’
He highlighted that women and girls were most vulnerable during the economic lockdowns, citing increased dropout rates and gender-based violence.
He urged that the fall out of the economic effects of the pandemic should spur African policymakers and legislators to respond through policies that drive growth, create jobs and improve livelihoods and also pay special attention to the needs of women and girls.
“Since, we do not have the luxury to undertake the huge fiscal stimulus packages that wealthier countries, wealthier economies have been able to provide, it follows that we have to look inwards and take the opportunities open to us to boost productivity and local production.
He also stated that African nations have, due to the little fiscal space, had it tough but it has also been an opportunity to build back better.
“In many of our nations, the executive and the legislature worked and are still working conscientiously to seamlessly and efficiently together, deliver budgets and legislations to mitigate the severe economic problems in the aftermath of the pandemic,’’ Buhari said.
He cited the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) as a chance to boost growth in Africa post-covid.
“The agreement affords us the opportunity of wider markets that will make our agricultural, industrial and service sectors more competitive.
”ACfTA is an opportunity for us to grow regional value chains, including boosting infrastructural investments and upscaling our payment systems.
“There is no reason why the current encouraging share of manufacturing in intra-African trade cannot be further increased by improving transport links, in particular.
“ A single African Air Transport market offers us a fantastic opportunity to build a continental aviation sector that will help to move people and goods around the continent more quickly and efficiently.”
President Buhari added that other transport corridors envisaged in the programme for infrastructural development in Africa, such as the Lagos-Abidjan Corridor, will certainly help to boost trade, investments and movement in Africa.
He further highlighted that the Pan-African payment system being promoted by the Afreximbank Bank would help reduce cross-border currency transactions and the cost of trading within Africa by reducing the need for foreign exchange.
What you should know
Nairametrics reported earlier this year that the Ministry of Aviation disclosed that the proposed national carrier will enable Nigeria to take full advantage of the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM), reduce air rates through competitive pricing, and improve Nigeria’s position with Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs) with other nations.