Speaking at this week’s Aviation Africa summit, taking place in Addis Ababa, Mikail Houari, President, Airbus Africa and Middle East, highlighted how the aviation industry is a great enabler for Africa.
Just as industry expansion creates jobs, attracts investment and produces manufacturing opportunities across the continent, it is also set to be a major beneficiary of Africa’s accelerating and continued economic growth, forecasted by the African Development Bank to be at 3.9% this year and 4.1% in 2021.
On the back of such growth, Airbus’s own Global Market Forecast (GMF) predicts that the continent’s rapid urbanisation, trade and tourism will contribute substantially to drive passenger traffic to and from Africa by 5.0% yearly over the next 20 years. An enabling environment through policies such as the African Union’s Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) further contribute to this growth.
From the airline perspective, African carriers are increasingly aware of the operational and economic benefits of acquiring new and modern aircraft. In fact, today airlines on the continent operate some of the most efficient and technologically advanced aircraft such as the A350XWB, A330neo, A320neo and the A220.
To meet market demands and Africa’s forecasted passenger growth, Houari, forecasts that Africa will need “more than 1,200 new passenger and freighter aircraft. By 2038, we will see double the number of planes we currently see in the sky according to the Airbus GMF.”
He added that Africa’s expanding maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) segment will continue on the same growth trajectory – Houari added this growth creates huge opportunities in terms of employment. “One direct job represents 10 indirect jobs and based on the current skills shortage we will need an additional 25,000 technicians and engineers and 20,000 pilots over the next 20 years.”
With a larger aviation and MRO industry, markets must be capacitated with the right skills to meet demands of the steady increase of traffic over the next 20 years.
To achieve sustainable growth in aviation, Houari believes that “investing in Africa’s youthful and increasingly tech-savvy population to build its capacity is vital. At Airbus, we have created several initiatives such as the “Airbus Little Engineer” programme, which has reached over 5000 learners across the continent and “Africa 4Future” for entrepreneurs. These initiatives are a reflection of our commitment to support the development of a sustainable pipeline of talent for the continent,”
Citing how the potential for aviation in Africa is immense and our focus remains on the full aerospace value-chain, Hoari added: “Our aim is to provide best-in-class products and services, develop sustainable partnerships, foster innovation, nurture talent, enhance skills and promote entrepreneurship in Africa.”