Rwanda and Togo have signed a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) that will enhance Rwanda’s airspace expansion in West Africa.The agreement was signed on Tuesday between Jean de Dieu uwihanganye, State Minister in charge of Transport in Rwanda’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Ninsao Gnofam, Togo Minister of Transport at the ongoing 4-day ICAO safety symposium in Kigali.
The agreement will enable Rwanda’s National carrier Rwandair and Togolese Asky Airlines to fly to and from Kigali and Lome respectively with a minimum of one stopover but less fatigue for passengers doing business between the two regions.
“We see this agreement as an opening for our landlocked country which will open more opportunities in investment, at the time when we have increased our flights on the continent,” said Gatete.
With over 60 BASA agreements now signed by Rwanda, RwandAir may add to its 26 destinations other 22 routes plied by Togolese carrier in West and central Africa, under this agreement.
The signing of this agreement brings the number of African countries that have accepted to open their airspace to 25 out of the 54 countries on the continent.
“Our intention is to implement the open airspace agreement and this deal will enhance the current agreements that promote trade on the continent. Rwanda is leading this aspect and we want to be part of it,” said Togolese minister Gnofam.
Other countries that have signed the agreement include Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and South Africa Swaziland
Zimbabwe has also agreed to take part.
Yesterday, Rwanda and Ghana also signed a similar agreement that will enable Rwanda to enter the European and US airspaces with ease using the access codes of Ghana aviation which has direct access.
Both the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council President, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu and Ghanaian minister of aviation, Cecilia Abena Dapaah stressed the need for other African countries to follow suit and implement the agreement so as to attain the African Union (AU) development agenda.
While launching the SAATM agreement signing in January 2018, Rwandan President and AU chairperson Paul Kagame said the market was important: “For the overall development of the continent, where international air links between many cities are expensive or non-existent.”
Another BASA deal was signed between Rwanda and Angola on Wednesday.
The 5 category aviation deal provides for both national carriers –Rwandair and Tag airlines to use each other’s airports and fly to Luanda and Kigali respectively without any restrictions.
It also provides for each airline to fly beyond these capital cities and use the already existing routes to which each has direct flights and code sharing and also provides for each country to have flight frequencies weekly.
“This will enable Rwanda to have direct business with Angola and connection to our Europe, Asia and American markets eliminating middlemen,” said Minister Silva Tomas who signed the deal on behalf of Angola.
Despite Angola being a Portuguese speaking language, Rwanda’s State Minister Uwihanganye said that Rwandan private sector and Rwandair will have more opportunities to invest and fly to the South West regional country.
“Angola has been ranked as the fastest growing economy in Africa. There is a lot of oil and diamond mining which Rwandan investors will be able to tap into since flights will be direct and economical,” Uwihanganye said.