Air Cargo Africa exclusive – Far East leads African boom time

“WHERE China goes the world will follow,” Titus Naikuni chief executive officer (right) of Kenya Airways told the audience on day one of Air Cargo Africa conference in Nairobi. “And now is the time for Africa.”

The world has faced its problems but is now on the bounce-back and looking for new areas of opportunity. The industry grew by 21 per cent in volume in 2010, despite setbacks such as the Icelandic ash cloud and severe weather conditions. Des Vertannes, group head cargo at IATA, said that an emerging middle class with money to spend in India and China is helping to fuel the industry’s growth as attention turns to the African continent.

“Chinese investment into Africa has reached US$1.12 billion, while India has invested around $50 billion,” Naikuni said.

This cements a global shift in trading patterns. “We got used to the traditional EU-Africa syndrome, but now it is shifting towards a China-Africa stronghold, as Chinese investors pump money into the continent, particularly to west African regions,” Sanjeev Gadhia, chief executive officer of Astral Aviation said.

Vertannes puts much of this down to China’s immense foreign currency reserves, and Ram Menen, senior vice-president at Emirates SkyCargo agrees, saying that China-Africa growth will be strong for at least the next 10 years. “The power China yields from a manufacturing point of view is huge and no other country can reach the volumes they generate,” Menen added.

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