US-based aerospace and defence company Boeing International is set to open a Nairobi office as it seeks to tap new Africa deals.
Boeing, which has been weighing options of opening an office either in Kenya or Ethiopia to gain a foothold in the eastern Africa market, will also open another office in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Chamsou Andjorin, the Boeing director of government affairs and market development, will head the Nairobi office while the Johannesburg office will be headed by Joao Miguel Santos, Boeing’s managing director for sub-Saharan Africa, a South African media report said.
“Africa is not new territory for Boeing. Since the introduction of the jet airplane, 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,” Mr Santos was quoted by South African media confirming the development.
“The aerospace industry needs to start paying closer attention to Africa, because this continent is clearly on the move economically and all the trends are pointing in the right direction for the expansion of the sector. Our job is to be ahead in understanding these emerging trends and opportunities.”
The US giant, which is the supplier of Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines’ fleet of Dreamliners and other Boeing planes, had until now had a presence only in North Africa.
Kenya and Ethiopia have recently been racing to attract foreign direct investments into their economies with creation of special economic zones and promises of lower costs of doing business including cheap electricity.
“Talent and comparative advantage will guide us in our choice of location in the region,” said Boeing’s senior vice president Marc Allen on the sidelines of an American business forum in Nairobi in 2015.
Mr Allen said the firm’s areas of interest include research, engineering and analytics.
The world’s largest aerospace company projects Africa would be in need of 1,150 new airplanes over the next 20 years as the most recent Current Market Outlook report predicted that air traffic to and from the continent is expected to grow by about 6.1 per cent annually.