The International Air Transport Association (IATA) highlighted that a staggering $1.68 billion belonging to foreign airlines remains trapped in African countries. Speaking at the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) 55th Annual General Meeting in Entebbe, Uganda, IATA’s regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East, Kamil Al Alwadi, raised concerns about the accumulating funds, identifying Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Angola, and Zimbabwe as the nations holding these finances.

Attributing this issue as a significant challenge plaguing African aviation, IATA emphasized the substantial adverse impact on connectivity. Al Alwadi noted some progress since 2018 in repatriating blocked funds from Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe through collaborative efforts with their respective governments.

Al Alwadi stressed the dire consequences on airline operations and route planning when funds cannot be repatriated, emphasizing the broader impact on national economies and investor confidence. Highlighting aviation as a vital economic pillar, IATA urged governments to prioritize aviation and find lasting solutions to address these blocked funds.

The IATA executive lamented the costly aviation infrastructure across the continent, citing charges 8% higher than the industry average. He advocated for fair and justifiable user charges, citing efforts that have led to reductions in charges in specific African nations over the last five years, particularly in Chad, the Ivory Coast, and Zambia.

Providing a breakdown of departure charges at African airports, Al Alwadi revealed varying rates, with Niamey, Niger Republic topping the list at $162 for regional departure, followed by Monrovia (Liberia) at $145 and Guinea Bissau at $137. Charges range from $3 to $467 across different African nations, signifying a considerable disparity in user fees for international travelers.