The African Development Bank (AfDB) has called on African countries to implement the 1999 Yamoussoukro Open Skies Agreement. (1) The freedoms of carriage by air are a set of rights for commercial aviation which confer on air carriers of one country the privilege of entering and landing in the airspace of another country, formulated following disagreements on the extent of the liberalisation of air transport in the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation. Air freedoms are available on the website of the International Civil Aviation Organization. The reason for Yamoussoukro`s decision was the need to promote socio-economic development in Africa – policymakers recognized that aviation and a competitive aviation market could be crucial to unlocking Africa`s economic potential. However, the agreement has not been fully implemented by its signatories. «Rigid bilateral air transport agreements have made it difficult to liberalise regional aviation markets. We need to make regional aviation markets competitive and reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve connectivity and comfort,» Adesina said. In 1999, African ministers responsible for civil aviation under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) adopted the Yamoussoukro Decision – a multilateral agreement among the 54 African countries to liberalize the continent`s aviation market. The Yamoussoukro decision is based on the recommendations of the 1988 Yamoussoukro Declaration, which aimed at the full integration of the African aviation market. However, the focus at the time was on the cooperation and integration of African airlines and airlines. It was not until 1999, after the adoption of the Yamoussoukro decision, that a political change occurred from the integration of airlines to the complete liberalization of air services in Africa.
The Assembly of the African Union endorsed the Yamoussoukro decision in 2000 and it became fully binding in 2002. In 2007, the African Union (responsible for the overall monitoring and implementation of the agreement) developed its competition rules after being inspired by a number of regional economic communities (RECs), including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the Eastern African Community and the Southern African Development Community. These REBs had developed, but not adopted, joint draft air transport competition regulations for their regions. With regard to the implementation of the operational principles of the Yamoussoukro decision, the West African subregion has developed remarkably well: the West African Economic and Monetary Union and the Banjul Agreement Group have applied most of the principles, the former in its internal market and the latter through a multilateral air transport agreement. (5) This update examines the reasons for and possible solutions for non-implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision. .