LIBREVILLE (Reuters) – Southern Africa-focused low-cost airline Fly Africa will expand to fly new routes to destinations in East and West Africa, Gabon’s president said on Saturday.\r\nFly Africa.\r\n\r\n“One of the biggest contributions that we as Africans can make to Africa’s development is to open the skies for direct affordable travel between African states,” said Ali Bongo at the New York Forum in Gabon’s capital Libreville.\r\n\r\nA statement from Fly Africa said that the expansion was possible because of a “strategic partnership between the Government of Gabon and African industrialist, venture capitalist and philanthropist Ivor Ichikowitz”.\r\n\r\nFly Africa was launched last year in southern Africa and has cut prices by 50-70 percent on routes between Johannesburg and Harare.\r\n\r\nThe airline said it would shortly launch new routes to Namibia, Gabon, Benin and Zambia followed by destinations in east Africa.\r\n\r\nMany routes within Africa are expensive and circuitous, and it is often cheaper to travel between African capitals via Paris.\r\n\r\nThe International Air Transport Association expects passenger growth in Africa to be the highest in the world over the next 20 years as population booms.\r\n\r\nFly Africa will compete with national carriers like Kenya Airways and Air Cote d’Ivoire as well as West and Central African regional airline ASKY.