American aircraft manufacturer Boeing is weighing options of opening an office either in Kenya or Ethiopia to gain a foothold in the eastern Africa market.
Boeing Company senior vice president Marc Allen said Thursday the US giant is assessing factors like human resource, infrastructure and existing frameworks for partnerships in the two capitals.
The Boeing executive has been on a fact-finding tour of South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia aimed at paving the way for entry into the three corners of sub-Saharan Africa.
The US giant, which is the supplier of Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines’ fleet of Dreamliners and other Boeing planes, currently has a presence in North Africa.
“Talent and comparative advantage will guide us in our choice of location in the region,” Mr Allen said on the sidelines of an American business forum in Nairobi on Thursday.
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.
Mr Allen said the firm’s areas of interest include research, engineering and analytics.
Boeing projects that air traffic for Africa’s carriers would grow at an average of 5.7 per cent per year between 2015 and 2034 – ahead of the global average of 4.9 per cent.
“Boeing forecasts that African carriers will need 1,170 new airplanes valued at approximately $160 billion (Sh16.3 trillion) over the next 20 years,” he said.