Russia To Fund Commercial Aircraft Presence in Africa

 - April 17, 2018, 9:10 AM
Russia hopes to market the Sukhoi SSJ100 regional jet in Africa with the help of loan guarantees from Afreximbank. (Photo: Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, Alexey Petrov)

A Russian state-owned export development institute has introduced a $20 billion fund to support financing of Russian-made commercial aircraft for African airlines through the Pan African Bank and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank). The Pan African Bank unveiled the special credit facility on April 9 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Afreximbank global head of client relations Rene Awambeng revealed that the bank had signed an agreement with the Russian Export Center (REC) under which Africa-based operators will receive funds to make the purchases. In addition to the $20 billion the REC and Afreximbank have committed for aircraft acquisition, the bank promised to provide further funds to improve aviation infrastructure in Africa.

Major African airlines such as Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways, Egypt Air, and Kenya Airways historically have bought passenger and cargo airplanes from Western aircraft manufacturers, mainly Boeing and Airbus. Bombardier and Embraer also enjoy a significant market share in Africa and, recently, Chinese aerospace companies have started supplying passenger aircraft to African countries.

Speaking in Nairobi during a meeting with industry players, Awambeng said increased intra-Africa trade, aviation infrastructure, and higher disposable incomes among Africans informed the decision to provide the credit facility. “The effective movement of goods and people is fundamental to Africa’s trade, growth, and development objectives,” he said. “Consequently, improving international, regional, and domestic air transport has become a key priority area.”

Russian civil aircraft as well as manufacturers of air traffic control equipment arrived in Kenya recently as part of a three-country intra-Africa roadshow to meet public and private sector aviation stakeholders to promote Russian aviation industry products.

The one-day workshop saw Russian aircraft models such as the Sukhoi SSJ100 regional jet showcased. The Russian aircraft manufacturer wants to aggressively promote the regional jetliner in Africa in collaboration with REC.

Boeing and Airbus expect African operators to order approximately 1,000 new airplanes over the next two decades to meet increasing demand for passenger and freight services on the continent.