After Israelis, Tanzania expects Chinese tourists

An uptick in diplomatic ties between Tanzania and Israel has started to bear socio-economic fruits, the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said.

The premier who saw off 274 tourists on the Israeli Airlines plane at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) over the weekend, pleaded  with the visitors to serve as Tanzania`s ambassadors back home.

Over 1,000 tourists from Israel were since April 20, this year, in the northern tourism circuit to sample various attractions in Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

The first group of the tourists left on Friday night, the second, which was seen off by the Premier, flew on Saturday afternoon, the third on Saturday evening and the last on Saturday night.

Majaliwa invited members of the business community from Israel to invest in the tourism sector in the natural-resource rich Tanzania. He further asked the Israelis to consider coming back to visit Rubondo, Katavi and Ruaha National Parks and Selous Game Reserve in the Southern Circuit as well as Zanzibar.

`We are flattered,` Majaliwa told Carmel  Shlomo, the Director of Another World, as he extended his gratitude to local and Israel tour operators for promoting Tanzania as number one tourist attraction in Africa.

Ten tour operating firms were involved in arranging the Israelis` safari to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, namely Excellent Guides, Mauly Tours and Safaris, Matembezi, Leopard Tours and Safaris, African Queen Adventures and TAWISA from Tanzania and Another World, My Trip, Camel and Safari Company from Israel.

The Tanzania Tourist Board Director, Devotha Mdachi, said a similar group of tourists from Israel were scheduled to arrive in Tanzania by June 2019. `Also expected in May this year are over 300 tourists from China,` she said in an interview, adding that the board was arranging a trip of Israel journalists and tour operators to Tanzania later this year.

One of the Israeli tourists marveled at how the country is very good and its people excellent upon his arrival a week ago, but however observed that roads heading for Serengeti needed to be improved.

Dr. Hamis Kigwangalla, the Natural Resources and Tourism Minister said the government was reforming the tourism sector for it to offer quality services. Last year, the ministry unveiled its ambitious plan to invest over Tshs.300 billion ($130 million) in the untapped Southern circuit for the country to register 2.2 million tourist arrivals a year from the current 1.3 million.

Dr. Kigwangalla said the money would be spent on improving infrastructure, increasing tourist services and promoting the virgin destinations and its rich culture, cuisine and the people of Tanzania cemented renewal of its friendship with Israel when it opened its embassy in Ramat Gan in May 2018, over 20 years after ties between the two countries were re-established.

Tanzania had initially established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1963, but they were torn asunder in 1973, thanks to the intense Arab pressure.

Earnings from tourism, Tanzania`s main source of hard currency, jumped 7.13 per cent in 2018, as a result of increased arrivals of foreign visitors. Tourism revenues fetched Tshs5.5 trillion ($2.43 billion) during the period 2018, up from Tshs.5 trillion ($2.19 billion) in 2017. Tourist arrivals totaled 1.49 million in 2018, as opposed to 1.33 million in 2017.

Also read:Tanzania-China Direct Flights set to Boost Tourism

African aviation has potential to rake in $29 billion

It has been by AviaDev event, in conjunction with partners, MIDAS Aviation and Futureneers Advisors, that the estimated potential revenue from new African aviation routes could yield $29 billion in direct revenue.

This revenue, which is more than the individual GDP’s of 70% of the countries in Africa, could be realized if the largest airports in each African country are connected with one another. Currently, only 33.7% of this huge market is served, meaning that there is over $19 billion in untapped annual revenue.

Now in its fourth year, AviaDev, brings together airports, airlines, tourism bodies, and suppliers and customizes one-to-one meetings so that new partnerships and routes can be created. AviaDev’s managing director, Jon Howell, unveiled the event’s mission: to connect the largest airports in each African country with one another. He stated: “AviaDev aims to challenge the status quo through encouraging disruptive thinking. We believe our new mission crystallizes the opportunity that African aviation presents, and we look forward to driving the industry forward and measuring the progress made. We are encouraged by the drive on the continent towards partnership and collaboration”

Rebecca Rowland, Partner at Midas Aviation, who estimated the current aviation services said: “We’ve looked at how well-connected Africa is in terms of the flights between the largest airports in every country, which mostly means the capital cities. Only a third of these routes currently have regular air services. We know that connectivity is vital for economic growth and trade, so the potential is huge. As the visa regimes become more open and regulatory constraints looser, we should see many more of Africa’s capitals connected to each other and, with that, we’ll see more of the opportunities realized.”

Martin Jansen van Vuuren, founder of Futureneer Advisors, quantified the potential revenue from the new aviation routes. He indicated that the potential aviation growth could result in additional hotel growth, which will further add revenue to the destination.  He said: “Considering the anticipated increase in air connectivity, estimations on the number of room nights and expenditure per person can be made.  With this is mind, it is fair to say that anticipated investment of US$194 billion could be made in new and existing hotels across the continent in the coming years, further showcasing the untapped potential of Africa.”

Africa also has plans underway to establish a Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) as was discussed at the recently concluded Second Ordinary Session of the African Union Specialised Technical Committee in Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism in Cairo Egypt. The SAATM is aimed at promoting intra-regional connectivity between the capital cities of Africa by creating a single unified air transport market in Africa, as an impetus to the continent’s economic integration and growth agenda.

African Union (AU) member states that have subscribed to the solemn commitment of establishing SAATM  are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Capo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Gabon. Others are Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe.

Read Also: Single air transport market for Africa in pipeline

AfCFTA timeline starts to count in July

That will be decided during the forthcoming African Union meeting slated to take place in the next three months, according to the officials who gathered in Arusha on Thursday 25th April, 2019.

The proposed African Continental Free Trade Area is not simply a `Free Trade Agreement` it is about establishing a unified continental market with 1.2 billion potential customers and where the private sector is the major engine to make it happen.

This was the tone from the discussions of the meeting held in Arusha about how the East African Private Sector including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) could benefit from the African Continental Free Trading Area (AfCFTA)

The one-day meeting, organized jointly by the East African Business Council (EABC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), convened close to 40 key players from the region`s private sector. The office for Eastern Africa of ECA estimates large potential gains from the AfCFTA, including an increase in intra-African exports of Eastern Africa by nearly Tshs.2.3 trillion ($1 billion) and the job creation of 0.5 to 1.9 million.

`Together African economies have a collective GDP of $2.5 trillion, making it the eighth largest economy in the world. That makes the continent much more attractive to investment, both from within and from outside the continent, ` said Andrew Mold, acting Director of ECA in Eastern Africa. `This should encourage business people to take advantage of AfCFTA and make the investments necessary to sustain economic growth and create employment.`

Nick Nesbitt, Chairman of EABC, emphasized the importance of the continent having a clear vision to put an end to the fragmentation of the internal market. `I really applaud everybody who has been involved in creating the AfCFTA because their vision is the one of Pan-Africanism. It is something our founding fathers aspired for a long time. Our thanks to ECA for being at forefront of this conversation and pushing the agenda forward so that the continent becomes a single economic trading bloc, ` he said.

Kenneth Bagamuhunda, Director General of Customs and Trade at the East African Community Secretariat, cited the experience of Regional Economic Communities as the building blocks for the AfCFTA. `The AfCFTA should build on what has already been achieved in regional negotiations like the Tripartite Free Trade Area, as well as within our respective regional blocks,` he said. Bagamuhunda also highlighted governments need to set a conducive environment for the successful implementation of AfCFTA.

The AfCFTA was signed in March 2018, at a historic meeting of the African Union in Kigali. 52 of 55 African Union member states have so far signed the AfCFTA, 22 countries that have ratified the agreement, which was the minimum number for it to enter into force. It seeks to create the largest trade zone in the world, increase intra-African trade by 52% by the year 2022 and remove tariffs on 90% of goods.

A summary of AfCFTA’s progress

  • 52 countries have signed the AfCFTA agreement
  • 22 countries have ratified the agreement as of April 2,2019
  • 15 countries have deposited their instruments of AfCFTA ratification with the AU
  • 7 countries including Gambia have received parliamentary approval for ratification but are yet to deposit instruments with AU.
  • Eritrea, Nigeria and Benin are yet to sign the AfCFTA agreement
  • The AfCFTA Agreement will enter into force; 30 days after the required number of ratifications have been deposited with the AU.

Also read:Africa’s move to push for cheaper, faster trade

Israeli tourists hail Tanzania`s landscape

The serene rural Tanzanian landscape has wowed more than 1000 tourists from Israel who have just concluded their week-long tour of the country, leaving them planning for more future visits to explore the beauty of the country further.

The visitors from the Middle East have also expressed their admiration of the friendly attitude shown by the Tanzanians who they said were easy to make acquaintance with, noting that Israel stands a good chance of investing in cultural tourism.

The tour guide and leader of the group, Hagit Geffen stated they were surprised by the Tanzanians way of life as most of them seem to live in rural areas far away from towns and cities, and still the government manages to reach out to all these places, providing electricity, water and other essential services.

One of the tourists in the group observed that while back home in Israel people live in cities, towns or Kibbutz (a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture) they are not as scattered as here. He also was surprised to see how people managed to get essential needs and basic services far away from cities and towns, yet he thought people must always live in big clusters in order to get services. He further stated that even the language in simple to master noting that in just a few days most of the tourists were able to learn Swahili words and could easily sing the song `Jambo Bwana, Habari Gani? ` citing that they were singing the song along their trips to Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Lake Manyara.

The tourists expressed their desire to return to Tanzania, but this time to really meet and understand the people of Tanzania whom they described to be warm, friendly, happy and peaceful.

A communications official for the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) described the arrival of more than 1000 tourists from the Middle East as a `typhoon` which has occurred during the off-season period in the northern circuit. The number of Israeli tourists visiting Tanzania rose to 36,640  in 2017, from 4,635 in 2012, according to data from the tourism board.

The Tourism Minister Dr. Hamis Kigwangalla said the marketing drive is paying dividends since the world is now turning to Tanzania as destination of choice when studying their global travel plans. In February this year, Tanzanian tourism experts attended the International Mediterranean Travel Market (IMTM) in Tel Aviv, Israel to promote the tourist attractions in the country.

The Zion tourists were seen off by the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) over the weekend. The premier said their visit was among ongoing strategies to cultivate mutual cooperation between Jerusalem and Dar es Salaam.

The influx of Israel tourists to Tanzania comes after Israel opened its first visa processing centre in Dar es Salaam putting an end to necessitate people from Tanzania and Israel from traveling to Nairobi for visa related issues. The Tanzanian government also established an embassy in Israel in 2018 which was aimed at strengthening the ties that had been severed by the Arab pressure during the Yom Kippur war of 1973.

Also read: Germany, United Kingdom tourists dominate Tanzania tourism market

EAC to exploit the $1.2 billion continental market after AfCFTA ratification

Members of East Africa`s private sector including small and medium size enterprises are preparing to exploit the over Tshs.2.7 trillion ($1.2 billion) continental market after endorsement of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).

At their meeting in Arusha on Thursday 25th April,2019, members of East Africa Business Council (EABC) who teamed up with United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said they foresee large potential gains from the AfCFTA, including an increase in intra-African exports of Eastern Africa by nearly Tshs.2.3 trillion ($1 billion) and job creation of 0.5 to 1.9 million

`Together African economies have a collective gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, making it the 8th largest economy in the world. That makes the continent much more attractive to investment, both from within and from outside the continent, ` said Andrew Mold, the acting Director of ECA in Eastern Africa.`This should encourage business people to take advantage of AfCFTA and make the investments necessary to sustain economic growth and create employment, ` Mold added.

EABC Chairman, Nick Nesbitt emphasized the importance of the continent having a clear vision to put an end to the fragmentation of the internal market. `I really applaud everybody who has been involved in creating the AfCFTA because their vision is the one of pan-Africanism,` Nesbitt said. `It is something our founding fathers aspired to. Our thanks to ECA for being at forefront of this conversation and pushing the agenda forward so that the continent becomes a single economic trading bloc, ` he added.

Speaking at the same gathering, Director General of Customs and Trade at the East African Community Secretariat, Kenneth Bagamuhunda cited the experience of regional economic communities as the building blocks for the AfCFTA.

`The AfCFTA should build on what has already been achieved in regional negotiations like the tripartite free trade area, as well as within our respective regional blocks, Bagamuhunda said. He also highlighted governments need to set a conducive environment for the successful implementation of AfCFTA.

The AfCFTA was signed in March 2018, at a historic meeting of the African Union in Kigali. 52 of 55 African Union member states have so far signed the AfCFTA (Eritrea, Nigeria and Benin are yet to sign the agreement) , 22 countries have ratified the agreement, which was the minimum number required for it to enter into force. Gambia`s parliament approved the AfCFTA on Tuesday 23rd April,2019, becoming the 22nd nation to do so, and effectively meeting the minimum threshold for the agreement to come into force.

The AfCFTA seeks to create the largest trade zone in the world, increase intra-African trade by 52% by the year 2022 and remove tariffs on 90% of goods.

Also read: Africa’s move to push for cheaper, faster trade

Tanzania’s Rufiji Hydro Power project gets first batch of disbursement

The Tanzanian government on 24th April, 2019 released Tshs.688.65 billion ($299.4 million) in advance payment to the contractor of the 2,100 MegaWatts (MW)Rufiji Hydroelectric power project ahead of the start of the construction in June.

To be implemented jointly by Arab Contractors and Elsewedy Electric Company the project is now in mobilization stage which includes setting up of enabling infrastructure such as houses, roads and water prior to its official commencement.

Speaking during the handing over event, the Treasury Permanent Secretary Doto James said that payment was part of an estimated Tshs.6.5 trillion ($3 billion) to be wholly funded by the government.

`The issuance of the advance payment marks a crucial milestone towards commencement of the implementation of the project which upon completion will play a pivotal role towards realization of Tanzania`s industrialization strategy and attainment of middle income status by 2025, ` he declared.

The project will also improve irrigation agriculture, water supply in Dar es Salaam and Coast regions as well as enhancing tourist activities in the Selous Game Reserve. The dam is expected to create a flood plain downstream that can support crop production of 450,000 tonnes of paddy, 7,000 tonnes of maize, 3,000 tonnes of cotton, and some vegetables which will boost agriculture contribution to the GDP which stood at 26.4 per cent in 2017.

For his part, Energy Permanent Secretary Dr. Hamis Mwinyimvua said the project which will be implemented in 36 months to generate 2,115 MW represents a greater power source than all electricity generated from all other sources in the country, which currently stands at 1,602 MW.

He assured the contractors of full government support, urging them to work hard and with due diligence to ensure quality work.

Mohamed Hassan, the deputy project director of Arab Contractors commended the government for its solid commitment towards the implementation of the project. The consortium shall work to ensure that they provide quality work and within the set time frame.

`We appreciate the government of Tanzania for paying us on time. Our job now is to produce quality work, ` he told the gathering.

Last week, CRDB Bank Plc and the United Bank for Africa (UBA) signed a Tshs.1.6 trillion ($737.5 million) bank guarantee to the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Ltd (Tanesco) for the implementation of the massive hydropower project.

On December 12, 2018, the government signed a Tsh.6.5 trillion ($3 billion) landmark deal with Arab Contractors to implement the project.

The signing of the deal was witnessed by President Magufuli and Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly in Dar es Salaam.

Speaking shortly after the agreement was signed, President Magufuli reiterated his rejection of exaggerated environmental concerns, saying the project will instead be eco-friendly. Critics including environmentalists and conservationists who have been several times quoted as  saying the project would adversely impact wildlife ecosystem.

Also read: Tanzania and Egypt to forge ahead with $3 billion dam project

 

 

 

 

Tanzania to establish an e-border management system

The Tanzanian government is finalizing plans for the establishment of e-border management control system aimed at improving security at border points and increase revenues.

In the ongoing parliament meetings, the Minister for Home Affairs, Kangi Lugola told the lawmakers that the new system will be operational from July 2019. He also noted that the government will in the 2019/2020 start using e-passport permit and e-visa in all Tanzanian embassies outside the country.

Tabling the 2019/2020 ministerial budget estimates, the minister said the electronic immigration services has shown great success both locally and internationally, citing recent recognition of Tanzanian passport by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

The minister said asked the Parliament to approve Tshs.921.2 billion ($400.2 million) for the 2019/2020 financial year whereby Tshs.889.3 million ($386,652) is for recurrent expenditure and Tshs.372.2 billion ($161.8 million) for other expenses and Tshs.517 billion ($224 million) is for salaries.

He said Tshs.31.9 billion ($13.8 million) for development expenditure, whereby Tshs.21.5 billion ($9.3 million) from internal sources while Tshs.10.4 billion ($4.5 million) from external sources.

On the number of visitors to the country, Lugola said about 957,977 people entering the country between July 2018 and March, 2019 compared to 1,021,071 who visited the country in 2017/18.

About 950,507 foreigners left the country compared to 954,926 who left the country in 2017/18. He also stated that during the same period 293 foreigners were denied entry into the country for failure to meet immigration department requirements.

On the same note, some 1,015 Tanzanians who went to foreign countries without following the rightful immigration procedures were returned into the country whereas a total of 5,604 illegal immigrants were repatriated to their countries of origin.

The minister also said following regular operations in the country, a total of 9,610 illegal immigrants were arrested in the country and handed over to various law enforcing organs.

He noted that big criminals cases reported at police stations in the country reached 45,574 between July, 2018 and March,2019 compared to 47,236 reports during the same period in 2017/2018.

He said the deadline in criminal cases is mainly due o early identification by intelligence forces, cooperation with members of the public and the police, increased surveillance and special operations in both urban and rural areas.

The minister further stated that out of the cases mentioned, 17613 of them with 37,267 culprits were filed in courts. About 27,943 are at different stages of investigations and those involved will soon appear in courts.

Speaking on the rate of road accidents in the country, Lugola said deaths caused by accidents were 1,216 compared to 1,985 deaths in 2017/2018, meaning decrease of 769 deaths, equivalent to 38.7 per cent.

The number of those injured in accidents during the same period also decreased from 4,447 in 2017/2018 to 2,639 in 2018/2019, being 40.7 per cent.

The minister told the House that the ministry will in 2019/2020 employ 3,725 police officers to increase the number of the law enforcers.

Also read: East African passports ranked most powerful in the continent

 

Why Tanzanian government disputed the IMF report

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) report on Tanzania’s economic status was one-sided.

Finance and Planning Minister, Dr Phillip Mpango opened up on April 23, 2019 detailing why the government did not give IMF the green light to publish the content.

Responding after the matter was raised in the National Assembly, Dr Mpango said that the go-ahead was not given because opinions given by government experts after reading the first draft were not included in the final report.

“The IMF team was in the country from November 26 to December 7 last year. After preparing the draft I received on March 18 and we gave opinions that should have been accommodated in the final report but that did not happen,” the minister said.

Dr Mpango noted that during his recent visit to Washington DC for the 2019 spring meetings organized by the World Bank and IMF, he held talks on the subject with Abebe Selassie, who is the director of the Africa Department at the IMF.

“Even today we are continuing with discussions on the subject. After the executive board of IMF received the final report, the government had 14 days to go through it and sanction its publication or not,” he said.

Under Chapter IV of its Articles of Agreement, the IMF has the mandate to exercise surveillance over the economic, financial and exchange rate policies of member states in order to ensure the effective operation of the international monetary system.

The executive board of IMF announced last week that it had concluded the consideration of the 2019 Article IV Consultation with the government but was not allowed to make the report public. `The authorities have not consented to publication of the staff report or related press release,` the IMF statement reads.

The IMF said in a notice published on its website that appraisal of its members’ economic, financial and exchange rate policies involves a comprehensive analysis of the general economic situation and policy strategy of each member country.

“IMF economists visit the member country, usually once a year, to collect and analyse data and hold discussions with government and central bank officials. Upon its return, the staff submit a report to the IMF Executive Board for discussion. The Board’s views are subsequently summarized and transmitted to the country`s authorities,” the notice intoned.

However, in a leaked report last week in which the IMF said was not made public because after Tanzanian authorities did not consent to its publication, the Fund said a weak business environment and the implementation of projects that may not have high rates of return were likely to constrain annual GDP growth.

Tanzania has of recent undertaken multiple projects that are aimed at making the country a middle-income economy by 2025.

Some of these projects include the Tshs.8.2 trillion ($3.6 billion) Rufiji Hydropower project which is expected to add 2,115 MegaWatts to the national grid and the purchase of aircraft for the national carrier that cost over Tshs.1 trillion ($500 million).

Earlier this month, the IMF lowered its forecast for Tanzania’s economic growth for 2019 and in 2020 to around 4 per cent from a previous forecast of 6.6 per cent in 2018.

In it’s World Economic Outlook, released on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, the Fund also predicted Tanzania’s consumer price inflation will reach 3.5 per cent this year and edge up to 4.5 per cent in 2020.

In January last year, the IMF said it expected Tanzania’s economy to grow at 6–7 per cent over the medium term if the country hiked capital spending and improved its business environment.

Also read: World Bank advises Tanzania on how to achieve middle-class economy

Tanzania in attempts to boost tobacco sales

Tobacco growing in Tanzania may get a boost if plans by the government to increase sales are successful.

The Tanzanian government is planning to initiate talks with the member states of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to seek markets for tobacco in those countries.

Data indicates that in 2017, tobacco brought in more foreign exchange to the country than coffee, cotton, tea, cloves and sisal combined.

However, tobacco production fell considerably over the third quarter of 2018, dropping by a third of the previous quarter’s performance.

The setback was that Tanzania’s tobacco was sold at high prices in other countries because of charging high tax, compared to the same tobacco from Uganda and Kenya.

The country is in talks with Egypt and Algerian ambassadors to Tanzania to prepare bilateral agreements that would enable reduced tax on Tanzania’s tobacco to be sold in those countries in attempt to increase income to tobacco farmers and country at large.

Tanzania is second in Africa in tobacco production after Malawi. However, despite high production of tobacco, it remains a poor country and tobacco farmers worse off while the country loses more than 61,000 hectares of forest annually due to tobacco growing and curing.

In recent years, there has been considerable debate about the social, environmental and economic impact of tobacco growing, especially in developing countries.

Organisations such as the Framework Convention Alliance and the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have called for tobacco farmers to be encouraged to switch to alternative crops.

Such calls are based on claims that tobacco growing has worse impacts than other crops. In particular, there are concerns regarding deforestation, the exacerbation of poverty and social inequality through bonded labour and child labour and occupational health risks such as green tobacco sickness (GTS).

Despite tobacco being a vital foreign currency earner, most local growers of the crop are languishing in abject poverty with nothing tangible to show for their hard work.

Some 2000 delegates – researchers, scientists, UN and civil society representatives, healthcare professionals and policymakers from more than 100 countries – attended the triennial conference, whose name, “Tobacco or Health,” implies that the two cannot co-exist.

The conference was held amid concerns that the tobacco industry, flush with money from huge profits from their operations worldwide, are targeting the youth group to increase tobacco consumption and cigarette smoking among the young adults.

However, global efforts against tobacco industry received a massive boost from former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg who announced to provide 20 million US dollars to create a new global watchdog agency that will be monitoring tobacco industry’s attempts to undermine tobacco control measures under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

The WHO FCTC measures are aimed at reducing the prevalence of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

The new global watchdog agency, Stopping Tobacco Organisations and Products (STOP) to be run by his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies was launched as the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health got underway in Cape Town.

The new initiative came amid reports that tobacco kills seven million people a year and more than 80 per cent of the globe’s 1-billion smokers live in low and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Also read: Tanzania in talks with Chinese firms in exploration of exporting tobacco to Hong Kong

Single air transport market for Africa in pipeline

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and other Africa transport ministers have rallied other countries on the continent behind the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

Sirika, at the ongoing Second Ordinary Session of the African Union Specialised Technical Committee in Transport, Transcontinental and Inter-regional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism in Cairo Egypt, made the resolution of the ministers known via his twitter handle.

The ministers, in the resolution concerning transport in Africa, “urge all remaining member states to join the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), ratify the African Road Safety Charter, the Revised Maritime Transport Charter and the Africa Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) Constitution.” Presently, only 28 African  countries have so far shown interest in the SAATM, even as the African Union awaits the decision of others to join the train.

According to African Union, SAATM is “Promoting intra-regional connectivity between the capital cities of Africa by creating a single unified air transport market in Africa, as an impetus to the continent’s economic integration and growth agenda. “In Cairo, the ministers unanimously agreed to strategies that would boost infrastructures in Africa. “We, the Ministers in charge of Transport Transcontinental and Inter-regional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism meeting in Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt on 16 and 17 April 2019, in the Second Session of the Specialised Technical Committee on Transport, Transcontinental and Inter-regional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism , organised by the African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt to consider strategies for developing smart infrastructure to boost Africa’s continental transformation and integration,” said the ministers in Cairo.

We, the ministers, reiterating our commitment to develop Transport, Transcontinental and Inter-regional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism sectors and our strong will to implement the outcome of the meeting as we have agreed.”

The committee of ministers requested the African Union Commission (AUC), to take the appropriate measures to accelerate the development of the African integrated High Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN) flagship project, revitalisation of the Union of Africa Railways (UAR) and speed up operationalisation of SAATM.

They also called upon the African Development Bank (AfDB) to continue providing support and mobilise more financial resources for priority intercontinental transport sector programmes such as SAATM and implementation of African Plan of Action for Road Safety.

The committee appealed to member states to speed up signing and or ratification of pending legal instrument related to infrastructure, notably Maritime Charter, Yamoussoukro Declaration (YD), SAATM, AFREC Convention and Road Safety Charter.

Member states that have subscribed to the solemn commitment are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Capo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Gabon. Others are Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and Zimbabwe.

The second Ordinary Session of the African Union was a meeting of the African Union (AU) Specialized Technical Committee on Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism (STC-TTIET) with a theme: Developing SMART Infrastructure to Boost Africa’s Continental Transformation and Integration. The meeting occurred during 16th and 17th April of 2019, organized by the African Union Commission; through the Department of Infrastructure and Energy; in collaboration with the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD).

Also read: AfDB, AU banks on creative industries in Africa for GDP growth