The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on Tuesday said excessive and discriminatory charges by countries were hindering the development of aviation in Africa.
ICAO, the apex aviation body, made this known at the ongoing 59th Airports Council International (ACI) Africa Conference in Lagos.
The conference which began on April 14 will end on April 20.
Newsmen report that the conference, organised by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), has the theme “Business Transformation for Sustainable Development of African Airports.’’
Mr Mam Jallow, Regional Director, ICAO, West and Central Africa, said the aviation body was responsible for setting standards and recommended practices for international civil aviation throughout the world.
Jallow said ICAO had principles concerning taxes and charges in aviation derived from the Chicago Convention of 1954, but these were unfortunately not being complied with by some African governments.
He said: “Taxes are levies imposed on aviation to increase government revenue. They are not necessarily related to aviation and they are not cost based.
“In terms of charges, we talk about charges levied by airports or aviation service providers for the purpose of recovering the cost of providing their facilities and services.
“The principles are that when these charges are established, they should be non-discriminatory. They should be transparent, cost-related and in consultations with users represented by different bodies.”
According to him, the Single Africa Air Transportation Market (SAATM) inaugurated by Heads of States of the African Union in January will not yield the desired benefits unless deliberate effort is made to reduce the charges.
“SAATM is meant to liberalise the sector, but it has been found that if the cost of travel is not reduced, the continent might not benefit from such liberalisation of its airspace.
“So, they are now looking at ways to reduce charges so that passengers can afford to travel around the continent easily,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Mr Sidy Gueye, Regional Director, Africa – Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security (APCS), International Air Transport Association (IATA), noted that high taxation and charges were impacting negatively on the development of the airports.
Gueye said the solution was for the authorities and the host airports to comply with the ICAO rules and principles in taxes and charges.
“Airports and airlines should work together in sensitising the authorities to ensure cost-related charges. In doing so, we are going to work with ACI to see how we can achieve this.
“The first area in this line of action is for the airports to find ways of improving their non-aeronautical revenues,” he said.
Gueye said the SAATM would enable more travellers to move across Africa, adding that this development of transportation would also help airports to generate more revenues.
He, therefore, urged African governments to set up the enabling environment and legislation to attract investments to the sector.
According to him, this will help in addressing the challenges of upgrading their infrastructure, adding much needed capacity to cope with traffic growth and improving their service quality to the passengers.