In its 20-year growth forecast, American commercial aircraft manufacturer Boeing says it sees a huge opportunity in Africa, valuing the market at around $400 billion. In a statement issued on October 21, 2021, Boeing says that Africa’s commercial airline fleet will grow to over 1,560 planes in the next 20 years.

Boeing is predicting that airlines in Africa will need 1,030 new planes by 2040 and values the price of the new aircraft at $160 billion. On top of this, Boeing says that maintenance, repairs, and other aftermarket services will be worth a further $235 billion.Boeing links its assessment of the African market to a 3% annual growth rate.

In Boeing’s 2021 Commercial Market Outlook (CMO), the planemaker’s long-term assessment of Africa suggests growth linked to Africa’s projected 3% annual economic growth over the next 20 years. The African Continental Free Trade Area and Single African Air Transport Market initiatives are also expected to stimulate trade, air travel, and economic cooperation, which will lead to growth. Boeing also predicts that the continent’s working and middle-class population will double over the next 20 years leading to an uptick in demand for air travel.

When speaking about the opportunities Boeing sees in Africa, Boeing managing director of Commercial Marketing for the Middle East and Africa Randy Heisey said:

“Africa has healthy opportunities to expand travel and tourism, coinciding with increasing urbanization and rising incomes. African carriers are well-positioned to support inter-regional traffic growth and capture market share by offering services that efficiently connect passengers and enable commerce within the continent.”

African airlines will increase their fleets by 3.6% a year to accommodate an increase in passenger and cargo traffic, which they expect will be around 5.4% annually. A figure that represents the third-largest regional growth rate in the world.

Accounting for more than 70% of all new commercial aircraft deliveries in Africa will be single-aisle planes to help support domestic and regional growth. In addition to the 740 single-aisle aircraft that Boeing predicts, African carriers will need 250 new widebody passenger and cargo aircraft. According to Boeing, African airlines will require the planes to support long-haul routes and air freight growth.

Boeing predicts that 80% of all new deliveries will serve fleet growth while 20% will replace older planes with more fuel-efficient models such as the 737 MAX, 777X, and the 787 Dreamliner.

Regarding aviation personnel, Boeing predicts that African airlines will need 19,000 new pilots, 20,000 technicians, and 24,000 cabin crew. The aircraft maker values service opportunities such as manufacturing, repair, and supply chain at $235 billion.

The COVID-19 pandemic hurt African economies hard and especially so in countries that are heavily reliant on tourism. Most notably, this was felt in North and East Africa, where governments imposed strict measures to stop the virus from spreading.

Unlike many other countries globally, the vaccine rollout in most African nations has been slow; however, the sharp rise in commodity prices is expected to help African governments speed up the vaccine process. They will have the much-needed extra revenue to pay for vaccines and their delivery. As countries return to normal, the upward mobility of the working population and the desire for air travel will make Africa a lucrative market for Boeing.

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