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​Photo of Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos byMatt Hamm/Flickr

Airport Security Upgrades Too Expensive for Most African Nations

01/11/2010 -The ability of African airports to adequately screen passengers has come under scrutiny after failed Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab began his journey to the United States by boarding a plane in Lagos, Nigeria, reports The Boston Globe.

And while airports throughout the world wrestle with the privacy implications of whole body imaging and other screening methods, the Globe says African airports have problems meeting the old security standards that many Western airports find flawed.

While some of the worst lapses, such as allowing spears or other potential weapons in carry-on luggage, seem no longer to occur, other aspects of airport security in Africa remain disquieting: The security official who barely glances at hand luggage, the bags lying in apparent chaos near a terminal building or the poor fences on some perimeters.

Aviation security analyst Douglas Laird told the Globe that if African airports had to meet Western security standards "they would ground all the airplanes, as simple as that." African airports abide by international standards monitored by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency.

Laird says that most African nations can't even afford the machines that screen checked bags in the United States, which cost $2.6 million to purchase and install.

The answer to passengers traveling from developing countries with poor security standards, the paper reports, may be more stringent screenings when they touch down for a connecting flight. On Christmas Day, Abdulmutallab traveled from Lagos to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport before boarding his flight to Detroit on Northwest Flight 253.