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Botswana to fully open its skies

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This is enhancing connectivity within the continent which facilitates trade, tourism travel and thus economic and social development of the continent – Dr. Chingosho

OAITSE MATHALA

Botswana is one of the 15 African countries that will fully open their skies as of next year. Secretary General of the African Airlines Association, Dr. Elijah Chingosho revealed last week during the 26th Extraordinary African Civil Aviation Commission Plenary.
He said, “The Heads of State of the African Union at their Summit in Addis Ababa in January 2015 made a solemn commitment to fully open African skies by 2017. Botswana is commended for being among the 15 states that have declared their solemn commitment to fully open their skies immediately, unconditionally in accordance with the Yamoussoukro Decision.”
The other states who made the commitment include Benin, Cape Verde, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“We appeal to the remaining African states to join the 15 to help in the realization of the far-sighted vision of a Single African Aviation market that will help spur the development of African aviation which currently accounts for less than 3% of global traffic and where intercontinental traffic is dominated by non-African carriers,” Chingosho appealed.
He noted that allied to the opening up of African skies is the need for the efficient movement of people and goods and efficient utilization of infrastructure. “This is enhancing connectivity within the continent which facilitates trade, tourism travel and thus economic and social development of the continent. Africa has to emulate experience in other continents who have gained huge benefits of full liberalisation in terms of facilitating connectivity, consolidation, creating customer-centric carriers and significant growth in traffic,” he explained.
Chingosho explained further that the liberalisation process is being facilitated by growing removal of non-physical barriers to the movement of people and goods. He advised that industry costs such as fuel taxes, fees and charges at several stations in Africa need to come down to global average to facilitate the viability and competitiveness of African carriers.
Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Itumeleng Batsalelwang reiterated Botswana’s “strong belief and support to studies on air transport liberalisation which have established extensive and significant evidence that supports the generally accepted ‘conventional wisdom’ that liberalisation of air services between countries generates significant additional opportunities for customers, shippers, and the numerous direct and indirect entities and individuals affected by such liberalisation.”
Batsalelwang highlighted that it is also evident that restrictive bilateral air services agreements between countries stifle air travel, tourism and business, and consequently connectivity, economic growth and job creation. “I must state that my country cannot afford these restrictions,” he said.

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