Kagame takes AU chair, launches single air market

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Rwanda President Paul Kagame began his tenure as the African Union Chairperson on Sunday, announcing the launch of a Single African Air Transport (SAATM).

Paul Kagame takes over the AU chair position from Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, adding to his current role as head of reform at the organisation. Kagame thanked his peers for the ‘double trust’ placed in him before turning his attention to development issues.

Kagame announces SAATM

Kagame’s first official act as AU Chairperson was to announce the launch of a Single African Air Transport Market, which aims to make trade and civil transport between African nations easier.

Under the scheme, eligible airlines from the AU’s 23 member countries are able to operate freely and conduct business across all member nations. This includes Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cabo 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.

Kagame calls for rapid change

During his first speech as AU chairperson, Kagame highlighted the need for Africa to respond more quickly to its developmental needs and market opportunities.

“Africa’s defining challenge is to create a pathway to prosperity for our people, especially young people,” he said. “Elsewhere this has been achieved through industrialisation. But the growth trajectory that transformed Asia is no longer a viable option for Africa. We waited too long to act.”

Among the options Africa needs to consider, Kagame cited the creation of a single market across the continent, further adoption of technology and infrastructure integration between member nations.

Featured image: By © ITU/J.Ohle, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31853376

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.