In the early 1960s, many newly-independent African states created national airlines, partly to assert their status as nations, which led to restricting their air services markets to protect State-owned air carriers.
Over time, most of these States recognized that strict regulatory protection, adversely impacted flight safety, led to inflated air fares and dampened air traffic growth within Africa.
African Ministers responsible for Civil Aviation acknowledged the above-mentioned impediments and on 14th November, 1999, the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) was adopted – a follow-up to the Yamoussoukro Declaration of 1988 in which many of the States agreed to the principles of liberalization of the air transport market in Africa.
Forty-four (44) African States became signatories to the YD and committed to deregulate their air services and promote regional air markets open to trans-national competition. The Decision was subsequently endorsed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government (HoSG) of the Organization of African Union (OAU) in Lome, Togo in July 2000.
Following the slow pace of the implementation of the Decision, a meeting of the Assembly of HoSGs held in Addis Ababa in 2015 led to the adoption of the Declaration (Doc. Assembly/AU/Decl. 1(XXIV) on the Establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and a Solemn Commitment (Assembly/ AUC/Commitment/XXIV) to the immediate implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision towards the establishment of a SAATM.
Of the 44 Signatory States to the YD, 27 States including Ghana have signed the Solemn Commitment to fully liberalize their air transport markets. Thus, being fully compliant with the YD, Ghana has removed all restrictions on traffic rights as regards frequencies, air fares and capacity for all airlines from concerned State Parties as provided in the YD and has also taken immediate additional measures towards the actualization of the YD. Among the benefits of the establishment of the SAATM are:
o Improved Air Services Connectivity
o Projected reduction in air fares
o Enhanced Intra-African Trade
o Enhance the sustainability of African Airlines operations
o Greater Contribution to National GDP
o Facilitate African Integration
In view of the above, a Concept Note for the Celebration of YD Day on the 14th of November each year was approved by the 26th Extraordinary Plenary Session of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC).
The annual celebration would help raise awareness of the opportunities and overall benefits associated with the liberalization of African air transportation; facilitate the involvement of more States in the implementation of the YD and facilitate effective collaboration with Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Stakeholders, Member States and Eligible African Airlines.
The full implementation of the YD is consistent of the Government vision of making Ghana an aviation hub in Africa. This is evidenced by the rapid development of additional aerodromes and ancillary aviation services in Ghana including the establishment of a Pilot Training Academy (to meet the shortfall in the local industry), Aircraft Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) facility, a new Air navigation Services Complex and cargo services.