The Yamoussoukro Indecision

Nov 1, 2008

When the history of African aviation comes to be written – unless urgent action is taken now – the Yamoussoukro Decision will be recorded as a monumental example of indecision by the African continent

It is exactly 20 years since the name Yamoussoukro entered the African aviation lexicon as a byword for air transport liberalisation. In 1988, African Aviation Ministers met in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, to develop a blueprint for building a strong and vibrant aviation industry that would galvanise economic and social development across the huge continent of Africa. This gave birth to the Yamoussoukro Declaration which aimed to foster airline mergers and consolidation through an appropriate regulatory framework.

Eleven years later, at the end of 1999, African Ministers responsible for Civil Aviation once again met in Yamoussoukro to ponder why the Yamoussoukro Declaration had achieved so little results. Filled with the usual heady optimism, they set an ambitious target of two years – 2002 – within which to achieve their goal of air transport liberalisation in Africa. For this purpose they adopted a new policy framework dubbed the Yamoussoukro Decision. They agreed that the liberalisation of market access should be attained by 2002 in order to create a single aviation market for the continent. In hindsight, this was wishful thinking. Hence, from 1988 to 2008 hardly anything has been achieved and the name Yamoussoukro no longer heralds hope or inspires confidence. 

Today, eminent aviation industry experts, such as John Morisson, Chief Executive of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA), are loudly calling for an end to the Yamoussoukro “talk show” and its replacement with a new initiative. This could be the way forward unless the current indecision is replaced with decisive action.


– By Nick Fadugba
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