Should Ghana Not Take Advantage Of The AU’s New Open Skies Policy To Partner Norwegian Airlines To Launch A Pan-African Low-Cost Carrier?

It will be entirely proper and fitting if President Akufo-Addo (who is proving by deeds not words that he is a leader in the Nkrumah-mould) could leave a legacy that includes the revival of our national airline: a new Ghana Airways that is a profitable pan-African carrier with a low-cost business model.

In light of the African Union’s (AU) new open skies policy across the continent, could we not offer that one-sky-policy as ‘creative-sweat-equity’ in a partnership, which that gives a chosen carrier 70 percent of the shares and 30 percent to Ghana to revive our defunct national carrier Ghana Airways?

By the simple strategy of striking an alliance with Norwegian Long-Haul, for example, the revived Ghana Airways could ride on the wings of the tremendous goodwill for our country that exists across Africa – generated by President Nkrumah’s pioneering role in creating the Organisation for African Unity (OAU), the forerunner of today’s continental body, the African Union (AU), and his policy of offering material assistance to many newly-independent African nations whose fight for freedom he also assisted in many ways.

To bring our many brilliant young readers up to speed with the new AU open skies policy, and perhaps also inspire President Akufo-Addo’s regime to do some lateral thinking in this matter – and approach Norwegian Air’s founder and CEO, Bjorn Kjoswe, for discussiins about a joint-venture partnership – we have culled a piece from Quartz Africa entitled: “OPEN SKIES: African countries have taken the first major step towards cheaper continental flights” by Yomi Kazeem.

Almost three decades after it was first proposed, African countries have finally taken a major step towards opening the continent’s skies.

Yesterday (Jan. 28), 23 African countries launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative by the African Union (AU). The initiative is largely based on the agreements of the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999 (pdf).

An immediate benefit of the single air market will be enhanced connectivity between African nations and a reduction in flight ticket prices. Consequently, this is expected to result in more regular direct flights between African countries rather than trips which previously involved stopovers in the Middle East or Europe. The bigger picture however, is littered with the promise of job creation, improved intra-African trade and freer movement of people. As shown by a 2014 study by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), liberalizing routes for 12 key African countries will boost economies on the continent with more than 150,000 additional jobs and an extra $1.3 billion to the continent’s annual GDP.

The launch of the single air market follows closely on moves by several African countries to relax visa rules for African nationals. In addition, liberalized airline routes on the continent will likely result in a boost to the long-touted potential of intra-African tourism. Last year, a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report showed that between 1995 and 2014, while the total number of international tourist arrivals to Africa more than doubled, Africans accounted for only four in every 10 visitors. Making it easier for Africans to visit African countries without the hassle of long, paperwork-laden visa applications or expensive, long-winding air travel will inadvertently boost the Africa’s tourism revenues even further.

But while launching the single air market with 23 countries is “an important step forward,” Rapahel Kuuchi, IATA’s vice president for Africa says its benefits will not be fully realized unless there is “effective implementation” of the countries signed up and also increased adoption by the 32 countries yet to join.

So far, 23 countries have signed up to the agreement. Countries-signed-up-the-Single-African-Air-Transport-Market_mapbuilder Countries signed up include: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe.

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End of culled Quartz Africa piece by Yomi Kazeem.

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