Customs, aviation players discuss single African air transport market

A Delegation of the Single African Air Transport Market, Pilot Implementation Project (SAATM–PIP) on Wednesday met with officials of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, in Abuja, Nigeria as part of efforts towards promoting trade facilitation on the Continent.

The NCS in a statement said the visit by the members of the SAATM–PIP, an initiative of the African Union, was aimed at creating a unified air transport Market in order to advance the liberalization of civil aviation in Africa and act as an impetus to the continent’s economic integration agenda, was aimed at sealing agreement to work together to improve trade in the continent.

Represented by the Deputy Comptroller General of Customs in charge of the Tariff and Trade Department, DCG Hamza Gummi, Comptroller General Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.) assured SAATM–PIP representatives of the Service’s readiness to seal partnership and pledged to deploy a desk officer that will serve as an interface between NCS and SAATM–PIP Secretariat.

“This project will be a game changer to all the issues we are facing on non-tariff barriers. I am hopeful that if we join hands together in this course, the whole African continent will feel the changes and address the issue we’re battling with. Today, I am assuring you that we’ve entered into an official collaboration SAATM-PIP.”

“In the area of trade facilitation, the high valued schedule has been that of perishable goods and they’re considered to ‘only’ go through documentation.” DCG Hamza Gummi said.

Speaking earlier, the Secretary General of AFCAC Adefunke Adeyemi commended the leadership of the Nigeria Customs Service and assured that the collaboration between SAATM and Nigeria Customs Service will increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution of Nigeria’s aviation industry from 3.3 percent to 5.1 percent.

“This project we called SAATM is an initiative that is well recognized – so much so that President Buhari himself has been personally involved in it. The project is designed to effectively connect all the countries in the African continent by air.” Adefunke Adeyemi said.

Studies show that the SAATM project will, by 2038, generate 800,000 jobs of which 60,000 would be directly associated with airline operations. The industry would contribute the sum of $1.3 billion to the GDP. That number would rise to $7.2 billion when factoring the induced and indirect catalytic effects of tourism.

”She stated that the reason behind their visit was to intimate the Nigeria Customs Service of their activities and to partner with the Service so as to intensify the implementation of practical strategies and concrete actions that will address the challenges preventing the achievement of the projected growth.

”The project will also share ideas to boost the development of air links to and from Nigeria, and promote tourism, trade, and investment development, especially through improvements in the regulatory framework, infrastructure investment as well as operational incentives for airlines to create a competitive environment for aviation business to thrive.” She said.

“Our visit is also aimed at starting a constructive engagement which involves the Nigeria Customs Service regarding the role that the Service can play in helping to accelerate the prompt implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market in Africa,” Adefunke Adeyemi added.

Adeyemi narrated how SAATM officials held a meeting with the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and urged the Federal Government to invest in infrastructure to ensure safe, secure, efficient, sustainable, and competitive operational environments that promote easy connectivity, business growth, and job creation across the African continent.

She said that Customs, through this partnering, can play a key role in the export of goods by air to African countries.

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