So Boeing is coming to Kenya. For most people, this might not mean much, but the fact that Boeing (Yes, the company that makes planes) through Boeing international, is setting up an office in Kenya holds some significance. This news comes hot on the heels of the Category One certification of JKIA which you can read about here. We allegedly managed to fend off Ethiopia which was also being considered as a potential location for the offices, which in itself might be considered a mini coup.
The Boeing offices in Nairobi have been opened as part of Boeing’s market extension plan, with an outlook towards Africa, which is the tipped to be the next aerospace frontier. It is estimated that Africa will need about 1,150 planes over the next 20 years and Boeing, who are the largest suppliers for both Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways, aim to be at the forefront in capitalising on this opportunity.
Mr Miguel Santos, Boeing International’s Managing Director for Sub-Saharan Africa was quoted in the South African Media saying that “Africa is not new territory for Boeing. Since the introduction of the jet aeroplane, Boeing aircraft have formed the backbone of the continent’s commercial fleet and Boeing continues to be one of the largest US-based companies doing business on the continent”
He further stated that the aerospace industry needs to start paying closer attention to Africa since the continent is on the move economically and all the trends point towards the right environment for expansion into Africa.
Boeing Defense, Space & Security will work with countries across the continent to identify and give capacity based solutions from Boeing’s surveillance aircraft, mobility systems, manned and unmanned airborne capabilities, intelligence and security systems, and communications architectures.
Does this have any impact for Kenya and the region?
At first glance, it may not seem like it does, or like the impact this carries is significant; after all, it is just an office. However, Boeing’s new direction with regards to Africa as an emerging market will not be ignored or taken lightly. The move to open two offices in Africa, precisely in Johannesburg and Nairobi, will not only identify them as prime places to for other companies with similar outlooks to set up a base, but also encourage investment in the region.
As it stands, Boeing is the world’s largest Aerospace company; setting up in the region, and the fact that it had considered not one, but two countries for this venture, will reinforce investor confidence particularly in East Africa as the tip of the emerging markets spear. This move comes shortly after Ethiopia Airlines became the first Airline company outside of Asia to own Boeing’s state of the art 787 Dreamliner.
East Africa has seen growth especially with Ethiopian Airlines, planned development in the Tanzanian Aviation industry and most recently the entry into the market of the rapidly growing RwandAir. Expectations are high that the setting up of offices in the region will galvanize growth and development in the airline industry. This growth and development is expected to yield jobs and bring in more investment in the region both from other stakeholders in the Aviation industry, and other investors buoyed by Boeing’s confidence in the region.