Melting down the borders to reach the frontiers” the impact of the yamoussoukro decision on the liberalisation of air transport in Africa.
The study investigates air transport liberalization in Africa. It notes that air transport liberalization in Africa is hinged on the 1988 Yamoussoukro Declaration and the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision and focuses on the latter. Among the positive impacts of the two instruments is the pressure they have exerted on the African sub-regions for the implementation of liberalisation. As a result, a number of sub-regional consultations and arrangements for the economic regulation of African air transport at the wider sub-regional level or among states with a community of interest have been or are being developed. However, as compared to other regional blocks such as EU and US the liberalisation process in Africa is seen as lagging behind due to several challenges that the study illuminates. The study therefore posits that despite the adoption of the Yamoussoukro Decision, the continent is still enmeshed in an intricate web of bilateral agreements and protectionist measures that have ensured a slow air connectivity rate. There is still the problem of heavy regulation with countries still unaware of the potential that is in having an industry that thrives on efficiency and competition than on political expediency and mediocre performance. In order to assess the contribution of this Decision, the study adopts these objectives; first of all it seeks to examine the extent of liberalization of air transport in Africa, to evaluate African regional efforts to liberalize and to investigate the impediments to the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision. To achieve these objectives, the study is guided by the liberal theory of liberal institutionalism which advocates for a greater role for non-state actors in spurring world development. In the contextual application of the theory to this study, it is imperative for Africa to embrace continental efforts to deregulate the air transport industry since it will be easier and faster if this process is done jointly by all countries than individually. Benefits, according to the liberal theory, will accrue to all countries and therefore there is need for co-operation to implement the Decision. The study utilizes secondary data to critically examine the research problem and comes up with the conclusion that the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999 has to some extent facilitated closer air transport but there are still geographical, policy and political challenges that are hampering the full implementation of the process.To realize the benefits that come with liberalization, the study recommends a closer role to be given to regional and sub-regional mechanisms that are better equipped to harmonise and streamline the labyrinth of regulation measures that either duplicate or even hamper mobility across borders. More consultative forums and studies are needed to convince national policymakers and state bureaucrats on the merits of liberalization. The future for air connectivity is clearly bright though a lot needs to be done now to secure that future