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Africa continues to shine in airfreight growth

By - | Nov 1st 2012 | 2 min read
By - | November 1st 2012

By John Oyuke

Africa is fast emerging as a key area of interest for air cargo companies seeking new markets with many carriers looking into different options to benefit from the transportation boom across the continent.

To address this potential boost in activity, airlines are replacing their fleet to meet the increased need to transport goods, with Kenya Airways being the latest to join the bandwagon.

Kenya Airways has announced that it will convert four of its Boeing B737-300 passenger jets into freighters as it ramps up its cargo unit to meet the surging cargo transportation demand across Africa and beyond.

The first two of these aircrafts are expected to undergo freighter modification by Aeronautical Engineers Inc. (AEI) at its authorised conversion centre, Boeing Shanghai Aircraft Services, in Shanghai, China.

Early this year, the Lome, Togo-based AfricaWest Cargo airline replaced its MD-11 fleet with Boeing 767F-300 planes. The carrier said this move was not only due to strong intra-regional trade but also to better address the Africa-to-China trade lane.

Analysts say that with huge investment in a number of African countries by predominantly mainland China companies, a rapidly growing Asia-Africa cargo market is springing up, supplementing the long established Europe-Africa trade. According to International Air Transport Association (IATA), Africa has continued to outperform its peers, posting impressive growth statistics in the recent cargo market analysis for the third quarter.

A report by the industry trade group of airlines revealed that African airlines transporting freight in the region witnessed a 10.2 per cent increase in demand in August, building on the 2012 positive growth trend.

The report noted that during the first quarter of the year, the revenue earned from cargo leaving Africa was $45.8 million, with inbound revenues totalling $333.7 million.

“While Africa only contributes 3 per cent of the global economy, it is growing the fastest. Some 28 of the 52 countries have 5 per cent average economic annual growth and countries like Ghana, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mozambique, Niger and Uganda could potentially grow up to 10 per cent,” it disclosed.

Commenting on the trend, Managing Director of DHL Express Equatorial Africa, Alan Cassels said this positive growth bodes well for business in the region as it translates into economic growth for the continent.

He said the growth in both cargo and freight volumes being witnessed in many regions in Africa could be linked to the fact that many businesses, both locally and globally, are looking to the vast continent for expansion.

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