Africa needs a unified air transport market to boost tourism & trade: COMESA official

Marwa Tawfik, Wednesday 7 Jun 2023

Adikiny Olwenge, Team leader at COMESA’s Support to Air Transport Sector Development (SATSD) programme, called for the establishment of a unified market for air transport in Africa to boost tourism and trade in the continent.

COMESA’s Support to Air Transport Sector Development (SATSD) programme Team Leader Adikiny Olwenge


Olwenge’s remarks came during his participation in a recent workshop hosted in Egypt from 29-31 May to advocate for the development of an institutional framework for the environmental operation of communications and air transport under the COMESA and the Indian Ocean Region Programme.

COMESA, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, comprises 21 African Member States that came together with the aim of promoting regional integration.

The team leader explained that the SATSD programme aims to develop the air transport sector by activating the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), improving the efficiency of air navigation, and strengthening the regulatory and institutional capacity of civil aviation institutions within the COMESA grouping and Indian Ocean Region Programme.

To achieve these goals, he noted, the SATSD received an eight million euro grant from the European Commission in 2021 to support the efforts of the SATSD programme in the Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, and Indian Ocean Region Programme.

The results of the workshop will be announced during the 22nd COMESA Heads of State Summit, which is held in Lusaka, Zambia from 6-8 June.

Smooth operation

In statements to Ahram Online on the sidelines of the workshop, Olwenge explained that there are many challenges facing air transport in Africa, including poor infrastructure, lack of clear rules for information exchange, and the exorbitant cost of training.

These challenges necessitate passing new legislation to strengthen the air transport market and raise the efficiency of civil aviation, he said.

The goal here is achieving more regional and continental integration, he said.

Olwenge stressed on the close link between boosting tourism and developing infrastructure, highlighting that better road networks would lower cost of transportation and thus facilitate an increase in intra-African trade.

“This system would reduce the price of airline tickets and thus boost the tourism sector in Africa, which is one of the goals of the African Union Agenda 2063,” he added.

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