African BizAv: Regional Hotbeds With Growth Potential

Industry experts share with Felipe Reisch which of Africa’s countries and regions are expected to see General and Business Aviation reach its full potential, based on the strength of their economies. Here’s what they said…

Felipe Reisch  |  10th July 2024
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    Felipe Reisch
    Felipe Reisch

    Felipe Reisch works as a public relations consultant for private aviation companies worldwide, leading...

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    Identifying Africa's hotbeds for BizAv growth potential


    In Africa, with a diverse pool of sectors led by such industries as mining, oil and gas, and tourism, Business Aviation bridges an important gap between remote locations underserved by the scheduled airlines and providing access to places where only smaller aircraft can land.

    Historically, the continent has been led by South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya – countries with larger and more stable economies, and good infrastructure.

    According to Danie Joubert, Sales Director at Jetcraft, however, that growth potential is more appropriate to consider in a regional context. South Africa remains a market of significance, and economic developments are driving opportunities into the wider region.

    “In West Africa, the countries with the most potential for Business Aviation are Nigeria and Ghana,” he highlights. “In East Africa, Kenya remains the primary hub with a strong installed base of Turboprops and Light Jets to support tourism, and some activity is also seen in the broader region.”

    Olusola Kukoyi, Head of Business Development and Marketing for Lagos-based EAN Jet Center, believes that mining will boost the growth of other actors. “Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya are currently the leaders, but General and Business Aviation is likely to grow in several African countries with immense mineral resources, such as Angola, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

    While they might remain at the top of the chain in the foreseeable future, there are other nations with expected growth potential in the coming years, and Joubert highlights that oil and gas also allow Business Aviation to expand into new hotbeds.

    “In Namibia, offshore oil finds have the potential to drive growth for our industry, with the Orange Basin on track to produce the country’s first oil exports by the end of the decade,” he elaborates.

    “Similarly, in Ghana, growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Q1 2024, particularly in the mining sector, signals a revived economy and greater opportunity for aircraft ownership.”

    Erika Achum, CEO of Vivajets, a provider of charter services based in Lagos, suggests that following the investment trail is a good rule of thumb to project which countries might transform into real growth potential candidates.

    “If we follow the investments such as the recent oil production in Senegal, the expanding oil and gas sector in Nigeria, and the ratifying of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) by the entire West African bloc countries [except Benin/Sierra Leone – signed but not ratified] we can see the ingredients for increased trade and consequentially movements within the West African Region.”

    Which Aircraft are Fuelling the Growth?

    Apart from the drive by specific industries, Joubert notes that rising global wealth influences demand for business aircraft in Africa, with the number of Ultra-High-Net-Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) in Africa set to rise by 17% in 2028 (Knight Frank Wealth Report).

    “These wealthy buyers are also getting younger, with our forecast finding that the under 45s now represent 36.4% of all Jetcraft buyers in the Middle East and Africa (MENA),” Joubert highlights.

    Similarly, in Nigeria, reveals Kukoyi, the High-Net-worth Individuals (HNWIs) and mega-corporates in diverse sectors of the economy, such as Financial and Allied Institutions, drive consistent demand, along with private jet charter service operators “as there is a sustained demand for private jet charter services”.

    Achum says that Africa’s vast terrain plays a large role in determining which are the top aircraft fuelling growing economies, with aircraft range being an important decision driver. “The Bombardier Challenger 604/605 is gradually becoming a strong contender due to its North to South, East to West range capability to cover the African continent,” she illustrates.

    “The Gulfstream G650/Bombardier Global 7500 is becoming quite popular for passengers such as Heads of Government with longer range ambitions,” she adds.

    For Vivajets, Lagos—Accra (Ghana) has been a city pair with the most inter-country traffic. However, the CEMAC zone (Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Central African Republic) also sees a lot of demand, specifically the Libreville—Abidjan and Kinshasa—Libreville routes.

    While Joubert also believes that long-range and large cabin jets continue to be in demand, he argues there is still a significant use case for Light Jets across Southern Africa. Aircraft such as Cessna Citations, Bombardier Learjets, and Embraer Phenoms are also growing in appeal in East and West Africa due to their versatility, short runway performance, and ability to reach remote locations.

    “Turboprops will always remain important in Africa and can support regional tourism via Cessna Caravans, Beechcraft King Airs and other aircraft,” he adds.

    In Nigeria specifically, says Kukoyi, the Mid-size Jets are currently the most in demand for charter, “though it is anticipated that some Very Light Jet models may make a strong entry in the near-future.

    “For the HNWIs, there will be demand for super large and long-range business jets.”

    Is there a clear-cut growing region?

    The growth of the oil and gas industries across Africa, as well as copper and other mining activities continue to create opportunities for Business Aviation on the continent. This means more opportunities for countries like Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana to transform into the region's next powerhouses.

    “Mining activity in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been influencing demand for business jet solutions as the business community seeks more efficient means to get there,” Joubert notes.

    Achum says increased oil and gas investments in Namibia and Angola and processing stability in Gabon indicate the growth potential expected from that region in the Central African Region. “North Africa has always led the pace due to its proximity with Europe. After experiencing a slight economic downturn, Egypt is one to look out for,” Achum adds.

    In a nutshell, it’s safe to say that the conditions in West Africa, Central Africa, and North Africa make them Africa’s hotbeds for potential growth of Business Aviation in the continent, following in the steps of leading economies like South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

    More information from:
    EAN Jet Center: https://ean.aero
    Jetcraft: www.jetcraft.com
    Vivajets: www.viva-jets.com


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