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CEMAC Severs Ties with South African Airways 

By Divine Ntaryike Jr

CameroonPostline.com — The Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States, CEMAC has decided to break ties with South African Airways, SSA, as strategic partner towards the setting up of a sub-regional carrier, Air CEMAC. 

The decision to end the collaboration is contained in a final communiqué issued at the end of a conclave of the general assembly of Air CEMAC held in Brazzaville, Congo last week. 

The document adds that transport ministers from the sub-region empowered the president of the general assembly, and Congolese Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Isidore Mvouba to identify and begin negotiations with a new strategic collaborator.    According to the release, the decision stems from various divergent positions pitting SSA and Air CEMAC shareholders.

“Shareholders have observed with keen interest, the presentation by the president of the steering committee on the difficulties encountered in the implementation of the project.  They have taken note of the impossibility to reach an agreement on air navigation services with SSA, owing to profound divergent perspectives,” the communiqué signed by Air CEMAC Board Chair,” Marcel Mbani, read.

He told reporters that in recent months, SSA had been scheming to dislodge the operations base of the sub-regional airliner from Brazazville to Douala, in Cameroon and very much against the wishes of Congolese authorities.  “Today, that problem has been resolved.  The headquarters and hub of Air CEMAC will stay in Brazzaville.  SSA also had been dragging its feet regarding its purchase of shares in the company capital, expecting that the CEMAC members will do the work for them,” Mbani explained.

The project to fit the sub-region with an airliner was initiated way back in 2001, with Brazzaville selected to serve as headquarters of the future carrier.  But ever since, nationalist tendencies and what experts rate a crying lack of political will have considerably snail-paced the progress of the venture, initially touted as a palpable mark of strides towards regional integration. 

A standing agreement between Air CEMAC and SSA stipulated that the South African carrier will own 40 percent of Air CEMAC’s capital shares, while 30 percent will be shared equally among the six CEMAC member states and the remaining thirty percent shared equally between the Development bank of Central States, BDEAC, and a consortium of private investors.  Unfortunately, the deal may never come to fruition as another long delay is expected before the sub-regional carrier comes into being.   

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