Economic growth prospects that rival Asia's

Growth of Africa's economies has accelerated. Despite the global recession and political unrest in North Africa, gross domestic product has increased 4 percent annually over the past decade, compared with an average 2.2 percent rise during the 1990s. Rising demand for natural resources, particularly from emerging economies in Asia and the Middle East, contribute to this growth. Consequently, Africa conducts half its trade with developing economic regions.

Africa's acceleration is more than a natural resources story. Its economies are diversifying as telecommunications, banking, and retail flourish. An economy based on rising incomes, consumption, employment, and productivity is emerging, and these trends are forecast to continue.

Twenty-five African countries have attained middle-income status as defined by the World Bank. The emergence of a middle class equal in size to India's makes consumption a major driver of economic growth. Africa's labor force is forecast to grow by 122 million people by 2020 and become a total workforce that will surpass that of China or India by 2035.

Robust demand for air travel

Traffic to, from, and within Africa is projected to grow about 6 percent per year for the next 20 years, driven by the economic outlook, increasing trade links, and the growing middle class.

Although air travel to and from Europe is Africa's largest market, stronger growth to and from emerging markets and within Africa indicates more balance in the future. Today, flows to Europe account for half of all Africa traffic. In 20 years, that share is projected to fall to one-third, owing to growth in emerging markets.

Growth and replacement driving airplane needs

Africa is forecast to require about 1,100 new airplanes over the next 20 years, approximately two-thirds of which will expand the region's fleet. Replacing the aging fleet is also an important component of demand. Although the average in-service age of Africa's mainline fleet has declined by approximately 25 percent over the past decade, it remains higher than the world average.

Single-aisle airplanes will continue to be the largest segment of African airline deliveries. They can serve the majority of routes in Africa's top three markets, where their versatility and ability to provide higher service levels make them attractive. Widebody airplanes, purchased by airlines that fly high-density and long-range routes, will account for almost half of the total delivery value to African airlines.