By Clement Uwiringiyimana
KIGALI (Reuters) - The global airline industry has $1.2 billion (£916.6 million) blocked in nine dollar-strapped African countries, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Monday.
The global commodities price crash that began in 2014 hit economies across Africa hard, particularly big resource exporters such as Angola and Nigeria. Low oil and mineral prices have reduced government revenue and caused chronic dollar shortages and immense pressure on local currencies.
The fiscal slump has meant governments have not allowed foreign airlines to repatriate their dollar profits in full.
At an aviation meeting in the Rwandan capital, IATA's Vice President for Africa, Raphale Kuuchi, said that airlines were in talks with "a few governments to unblock airline funds". He did not specify the companies were affected.
"To do business effectively, airlines must be able to reliably repatriate their revenues," Kuuchi said. "And that’s not the case in nine African countries: Angola, Algeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan and Zimbabwe."
Of the total of $1.2 billion, Angola has blocked the largest amount, $500 million, while Sudan has held up $200 million, another IATA official, Adefunke Adeyemi, told Reuters.
Last year Nigeria owed airliners $600 million but as of October the amount had fallen to $221 million, she said.
(Reporting by Clement Uwiringiyimana; Editing by David Goodman)