Disclosing this to Reuters, Kamal Al Awadhi who serves as the Vice President (Africa and the Middle East) at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said all efforts to mediate in the matter has proven abortive. According to him, two rounds of talks have so far been held with Nigerian officials, including some from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“We keep chipping away and hoping that it clicks that this is going to going to damage the country down the road. Hopefully, we can get some sort of solution where it starts going down (but) it won’t, I doubt, be paid in a single shot,” he said.
On its part, Nigeria has blamed the development on dollar shortage. For years, the West African country has been grappling with a never-ending forex crisis, a situation that has negatively impacted many businesses in the country as well as households.
It should be noted that this is not the first time foreign companies operating in Nigeria have been stopped from repatriating their earnings. However, the issue is usually always resolved.
Meanwhile, Nigeria is not the only African country experiencing a foreign exchange crisis. In the same vein, the country is not the only one currently withholding foreign airlines’ earnings. As a matter of fact, IATA said as much as $1 billion worth of foreign airlines’ earnings are currently being withheld across the continent.
Nigeria is of course withholding the largest amount at $450 million, followed by Ethiopia and Zimbabwe both of which are withholding a combined total of $$271 million. There is also Eritrea which is withholding the sum of $ $75 million as well as others.
Also note that foreign airlines are not the only ones affected by the dollar scarcity in Africa. Just last month, Kenya Airways was forced to suspend air ticketing activities in Malawi due to the Southern African country’s worsening forex crisis.