Inflight connectivity set to drive economic growth in Africa

Inflight connectivity specialist Inmarsat's City Road, London, Headquarters.
Inmarsat’s City Road, London, Headquarters.

Inmarsat is set to unveil its white paper “Inflight connectivity – a new opportunity for African aviation” at the 50th AFRAA Annual General Assembly in Rabat, Morocco on Tuesday, saying inflight connectivity could be worth $587m to airlines by 2035.

It says Africa has a rising interest in mobile telecommunications and passengers will want to continue their mobile experience while on flights in the region.

Inmarsat is keen to promote the economic possibilities that might be opened up by airlines installing its GX Aviation satellite-based inflight connectivity solution, which it says can give passengers an “at home” internet experience, even at 35,000 feet.

It says high-quality Wi-Fi can also provide airlines with new ancillary revenue streams from Wi-Fi access payment, inflight e-commerce, digital advertising sales and premium-priced, streamed inflight entertainment.

According to “Sky High Economics”, a study of the commercial impact of inflight connectivity by the London School of Economics and Political Science, broadband-enabled ancillary revenues in Africa will grow from just over $10m in 2018 to more than $306m by 2028.

Inmarsat’s Inflight Connectivity Survey 2018 found two thirds of those who feel that Wi-Fi is fundamental to daily life believe inflight Wi-Fi is a necessity.

Increased mobile penetration also brings higher levels of device ownership, meaning passengers bring their own tech on board and increasingly expect to be able to use it.

The company says its believes air travel has the potential to accelerate economic growth and development in Africa, connecting markets both within and outside the continent, and opening up new ones, while also fostering further investment and innovation – including tourism – throughout the continent.

Ben Griffin, Vice President MEA and APAC at Inmarsat Aviation, said: “Inmarsat and our partners have made significant investments in Africa and we are committed to helping shape a more connected and digital continent.

“As the only operator of a fully-owned and managed global network providing high-speed broadband to both cabin and cockpit, Inmarsat and partners are working with the airlines in the African continent to help realise their potential through connectivity.

“Our value-added partners all have a presence in Africa and can offer equipment, installation, tailored service plans and custom applications to help airlines manage and optimise and benefit from their investments.”

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