Liberalising Aviation in Africa: Overview of the Yamoussoukro Decision by Oshokha Momoh

Liberalising Aviation in Africa: Overview of the Yamoussoukro Decision by Oshokha Momoh

In 1999 African ministers responsible for civil aviation under the aegis of the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) adopted the Yamoussoukro Decision – a multilateral agreement between Africa’s 54 countries designed to liberalise the continent’s aviation market.

The Yamoussoukro Decision is based on the recommendations of the Yamoussoukro Declaration 1988, which aimed at the full integration of the African air transport market. However, its primary focus at the time was the cooperation between and integration of African airlines and carriers. It was not until 1999, following the adoption of the Yamoussoukro Decision, that a policy shift from airline integration to the full liberalisation of air services in Africa took place.

The Assembly of the African Union endorsed the Yamoussoukro Decision in 2000 and it became fully binding in 2002. Essentially, the Yamoussoukro Decision opens up African airspace for its signatories by:

  • supporting the free exercise of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth Freedoms of the Air, under which an airline or air carrier from one African country can simply fly into another airspace and land on its territory using only a simple prior notification procedure; and
  • eliminating the need for separate bilateral air service agreements between individual countries.

The rationale behind the Yamoussoukro Decision was the need to foster socio-economic development in Africa – policymakers recognised that aviation and a competitive aviation market could be decisive for unlocking Africa’s economic potential. However, the agreement has not been fully implemented by its signatories.

This update examines the reasons behind and potential solutions to the non-implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision.

Download our Oshokha Momoh’s full paper on the subject as published by the International Law Office.