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07.11.2008 General News

West And Central African Aviation Ministers Meet In Accra

By (ISD) Elorm Ametepe & Zakari Musah
West And Central African Aviation Ministers Meet In Accra

Ghana's Aviation Minister, Joe Baidoe-Ansah (second from left) interacting with some delegates

Ghana's Minister for Aviation, Hon Joe Baidoe-Ansah, yesterday appealed to west and Central African Aviation Ministers to endeavour to adopt and implement the Yamoussoukro Decision on the Liberalisation of Air Transport for the advancement of the industry within the two sub-regions.

He said the Council of Ministers responsible for Air Transport within the two sub-regions have been charged to oversee the implementation of the Yamoussoukro decision and  that 'Our mission here as Council of Ministers is to adopt and resolve to implement the report of the meeting of experts to move forward the Yamoussoukro objectives'.  

Hon Baidoe-Ansah was addressing the opening session of the 4th Meeting of the Council of Ministers responsible for the Implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision in West and Central Africa.

The Minister said the aviation industry is beset with problems such as small, poorly resourced airlines, generally poor infrastructure and equipment, low safety standards, lack of adequately trained personnel and rigid regulation of the aviation industry in a global arena of liberalisation.

The two sub-regions, the Minister noted, are also plagued with poor service quality, unreliable schedules, high operating cost and tariffs as well as inadequate flights connectivity.

He said the introduction of the Yamoussoukro Decision, coupled with various initiatives by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the tireless efforts of the ECOWAS and CEMAC, the air transport industry in the two sub-regions is gradually making progress.

The Minister, however, called for expedited action on the implementation of laudable objectives of the Yamoussoukro Decision for the sub-region to catch-up with the vast leaps and strides being made in the Air Transport industry globally.  

The Government of Ghana, recognising the importance of the air transport as a major contributor to economic development, has accorded the industry great attention by committing itself to the Yamoussoukro Decision, he said.

'To this end, we continue to review our existing air service agreement with other African countries to reflect the provision of the Decision,' he added. Hon Baidoe-Ansah, therefore, urged other countries to follow the example of Ghana to fully realise the Yamoussoukro Decision.

The Secretary-General of Africa Airline Association, Mr Christian Folly Kossi, said the airline business in Africa has been in crisis for decades and that half of the continent is dominated by foreign carriers. This he said is likely to worsen with the European Union single airspace concept.

'The size of most of African airlines is just too small and their operations ineffective to withstand worldwide competition. Yet the crises and the anticipated recession will result in the mega carriers of the world intensifying their market penetration in Africa. This unfortunately will happen at the expense of African weak airlines', he noted.

Mr Folly Kossi called for merger or forged continental alliances between small carriers and relatively big airlines of Africa. 'In this regard, each state should discount the notion that airlines' ownership is intrinsically linked to their sovereignty, he added.'

According to him, those who have no airlines currently or have ailing carriers should opt for multinational solutions, saying states ought to extend their support to the solutions without taking the driving seat in their management.

The Secretary-General of the African Civil aviation Commission, Mr Boubacar Djibo said Africa cannot develop and integrate without a sustainable air transport system.  

The Yamoussoukro Decision adopted by African Ministers responsible for aviation in 1999, has the objective of opening up the African Continent, foster the development of Intra-African Links for free movement of people, goods and services.

The air transport liberalisation policy provides among others, for free exercise for traffic rights, including the 5th traffic rights, free traffic fixing by air carriers, unlimited capacity and frequencies, and multiple designations of eligible airlines.