Chris Chadwick, chief executive of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said the failure of the rocket was a 'sad and tragic' reminder that the space business was complex and difficult, but he did not expect a lasting setback to the overall industry.

Johannesburg - Africa will need 900 new airliners by 2031, vice-president of sales at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Van Rex Gallard, said on Monday.

He said he saw growth in four areas - northern Africa, East Africa, South Africa and West Africa.

“In North Africa they have had some issues because of the Arab Spring and so forth. But it (growth) is coming up, it is going to continue in countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco,” Gallard said in Johannesburg.

“There is a solid infrastructure in those countries. They actually have access to financing and they are technologically prepared to be competitive, with mainly Europe.”

Gallard said growth in East Africa was also booming, with major industry players coming from Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda.

“Ethiopian Airlines is the second country in the world which has taken delivery of the (Boeing) 787, after the Japanese.”

Africa had enjoyed growth of five percent over the past few years, and Boeing Commercial Airplanes forecast annual growth of 5.6 percent for the next 20 years.

Gallard said a total of 850 Boeing 787 Dreamliners had been sold since the aircraft was first launched. About 50 had been bought or leased by African carriers.

The growth of the aviation industry in Africa was the result of intra-continental trade, which was on the rise. - Sapa