Coronavirus: African countries reopening their borders

Par thierno - 3 August, 2020 - 10:17

Since Saturday 1 August, the opening of air traffic has been accelerating on the continent, particularly in West Africa, with a resumption of commercial flights. According to information provided by several national authorities, almost all countries of the West African Economic Community (ECOWAS) are due to reopen their air and sometimes land borders with the exception of Nigeria. At the end of June, the institution had recommended a "coordinated and gradual opening of borders" in order "to revive the economies of the ECOWAS member countries". A little behind its initial schedule, ECOWAS promises a periodical assessment of the health situation in member countries and others.

In any case to know the recommendations of the country you wish to visit in Africa you can consult the updated information from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The skies of West Africa are clearing up

An economic heavyweight in West Africa, Côte d'Ivoire was one of the first African countries to announce the resumption of its international flights after more than three months of suspension. A completed "declaration of health form" must be submitted prior to departure.

In neighbouring Senegal, the situation has gradually improved. While President Macky Sall announced on June 29 that Senegal's air borders would reopen "as of July 15," the Ministry of Tourism and Air Transport backpedaled two days later, saying the country would "apply the principle of reciprocity to all states that have taken measures against it. The reversal was due to "the EU's decision to ban Senegal from the list of countries authorised to travel in its space".

While flights have indeed resumed, some nationals are not allowed to enter the country. A good overview of the prospects for air travel in Africa is provided by the free interactive IATA map. The International Air Transport Association updates travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic several times a day.

The same situation exists in Mali, which opened on 25 July, and in other Sahel countries such as Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso, where local authorities have announced the reopening of air, land and rail borders as of 1 August.

It is also official on the side of Togo, which reopened this Saturday 1 August its air borders, closed since March to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, announced the government in a statement confirming the resumption of domestic and international flights. Namely, all passengers bound for Togo will be "subjected to the Covid-19 PCR test (a single test on arrival and another on departure), except for passengers in transit", according to the statement. To this end, a platform has been set up to enable travellers to complete all formalities online.

For the time being, connections are planned to several African capitals, including Abidjan. There should be no more than 3 to 4 flights a day initially, mainly operated by Asky, the company based in Togo. There is no question for the moment of welcoming international carriers such as Air France, Brussels Airlines or RAM. The airport and health authorities favour caution. They first want to see how the system that will be put in place for arrivals and departures works.

If the conditions are satisfactory and there are no imports of Covid-19, more flights will be scheduled as and when they arrive during the month of August. Togo, which registered its first case of the new coronavirus on 6 March, had 927 cases of infection and 18 deaths, according to official figures released Thursday evening. 634 patients have been cured and 275 others are under treatment. The Togolese authorities extended the state of health emergency declared in April for three months at the beginning of July.

However, it will still not be possible for Togolese to cross the land borders to nearby Benin. In this West African country, flights - albeit limited - are available to and from Benin, but passengers will have to be tested on arrival at their own expense and quarantined pending their results .

What about Ghana and Nigeria? All the borders of the ex-gold coast are closed until 13 August, when international flights reopen. Only citizens are allowed to enter the country but will have to be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival. After months of closure, Nigeria reopened its airports in Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Maiduguri on 11 July. International travel, however, has no resumption date.