Please free us from this travel bondage.

Author:Ankomah, Baffour
Position:Single African Air Transport Market - BAFFOUR'S BEEFS - Column
 
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The AU's common sense approach to ending Africa's bizarre and long-standing aviation regime has been scuppered by refusnik countries. Travel within Africa continues to be a nightmare without end.

"Neither a wise nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him"

--Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sometimes I don't know what we Africans want, honestly. The news on 28 January that only 23 of the continent's 55 countries put their names to the establishment of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), one of the 12 AU Agenda 2063 flagship projects, was hugely disappointing, to say the least--considering that the SAATM has been in the works for 38 long years! I repeat, 38 long years, dear reader!

Why the other 32 countries have to wait--and for how long Dear Lord?--to join such an important project that means so much to the economies of our countries and citizens, beggars belief. It doesn't help any African's confidence that these 32 nations profess to believe in, and are in fact signatories to, the AU Agenda 2063, which is Africa's "strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years", an agenda that "builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development".

The apathy, or is it antipathy, of the 32 'refusnik' countries astounds! Yet, the argument for the SAATM is so compelling that nobody with African blood coursing through their veins should refuse to support its establishment or, sin of all sins, decline to be a member.

Let's look at the facts: The conception of the SAATM goes back to a 'Decision' taken by aviation ministers of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) who met in the Ivorian political capital, Yamoussoukro, on 13-14 November 1999, under the joint auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council and UNECA. This was a good 19 years ago!

That 'Decision' (or Agreement) which most African countries put their names to at the time is now known as the 'Yamoussoukro Decision'. We all know that the OAU morphed Into the AU in 2002.

According to the historical record, the Yamoussoukro Decision was endorsed by the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU held in Lome (Togo) on 10-12 July 2000. The preamble of the Yamoussoukro Decision makes reference to four previous and important OAU decisions on continental aviation. They...

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