Somalia: Rwanda and Somalia Ink Bilateral Air Service Agreement

Rwanda and Somalia have inked a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) that will see the two countries open skies for both republics to ease air transport.

The agreement was signed Friday morning between the Minister for Infrastructure, Claver Gatete and the Federal Republic of Somalia's Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Mohamed Abdullahi Salat.

The signing was a fulfilment of the heads of state's Yamoussoukro Decision of opening airspace on the African continent, and implementation of Africa's African Continental Free Trade Area the head of states endorsed in 2018.

Gatete said that signing with Somalia marks 100th BASAs Rwanda has signed with different countries, adding that the "magic number" means a hundred open doors for trade cooperation.

He told the press that the agreement could boost trade and air transport networks between both countries.

"This is to make sure that the free trade, the free movement of services, the free airspace is a reality. So, we are leading by example to ensure that this is happening."

He added that the signing implements the president of Rwanda's promise to scrap visa fees for citizens of member states of the African Union, La Francophonie and the Commonwealth, a sum of 90 countries.

The Somali Minister reiterated Rwanda's progress and emphasized that the agreement will bolster trade cooperation between the two countries.

"We are very, very proud of you, coming from the genocide all the way to what we see now. We look forward to opening the trade between Somalia and Rwanda and this is the first step.

"I am sure you will see a lot of Somali investors flocking to your country, and we welcome your investors to also come to Somalia. I am sure we have a lot to learn from your civil aviation and from your government agencies and we will exchange that knowledge hopefully from now on."

Commenting on the recent announcement by Qatar Airways negotiating a 49 per cent stake in Rwandair, Minister Gatete said that the buy-in, once fulfilled, would bring more muscle, bigger fleet and more destinations but the national carrier remains RwandAir-branded.

Regional airlines have recently started flying to Mogadishu, the Somali capital following an improvement in aviation safety and general security situation in the Horn of Africa country.

Last December, Kenya Airways started its direct flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu, being the third international airline to fly the Nairobi-Mogadishu route after Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines

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