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Boeing and RSB identify Sub-Saharan Africa opportunities to develop sustainable aviation fuel


  • “Fuelling the Sustainable Bioeconomy” report presented at Aviation Africa Summit
  • Accelerating a domestic SAF industry can catalyse a just energy transition in Africa


ABUJA, Nigeria, Sept. 13, 2023 – Seeking to accelerate production and deployment of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), supported by Boeing, released a study today highlighting the potential for producing SAF and other biomaterials within sub-Saharan Africa. The study and its research were presented at the Aviation Africa summit today.

The report, titled “Fuelling the Sustainable Bioeconomy: Creating impact through landscape-level programmes,” explores the opportunity for SAF to drive a just energy transition in Africa and combat climate challenges while generating jobs, stimulating economic growth, developing rural livelihoods and protecting the environment.

SAF, which can be made from materials ranging from used cooking oil and agricultural waste to industrial off-gases, is approved to blend up to 50% with conventional petroleum jet fuel and can be utilised in today’s jets without any changes to the airplane, engines or fueling infrastructure. SAF can reduce carbon emissions by up to 80% in comparison with fossil fuels, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

RSB’s research identifies specific SAF development and bio-economy opportunities in Ethiopia and South Africa.  

  • In Ethiopia, engaging with key stakeholders from industry, civil society and government, the research formed the basis for a SAF roadmap and identified brassica carinata (Ethiopian mustard) as a promising potential feedstock to produce biofuels while also addressing both food and energy demand.
  • In South Africa, The study found that there is a huge potential to use invasive alien plants for SAF production while creating jobs. These plants currently cover more than 10% of the land mass (around 11.3 million tons) and use up to 6% of the country’s fresh water, increasing to 16% of total fresh water use without eradication. RSB has worked with partners in-country and globally to define an approach for sustainable harvest within its widely recognised sustainability standard. 

Elena Schmidt, executive director, RSB, said the study “highlights the value of a holistic approach to developing SAF and the broader bioeconomy, including integrating technical studies, stakeholder engagement, policy analysis and more within a single program, and by building that program on a really robust foundation of social and environmental sustainability. This work presents outcomes and recommendations that can give policy-makers, investors and other key stakeholders the confidence to direct their efforts in the bioeconomy. We are excited to see how this research in Ethiopia and South Africa will support a sustainable and just transition in emerging SAF- and bio-based economies.”  

“Sustainable aviation fuels offer the greatest potential to reduce our industry’s carbon emissions and the development of SAF is an effort that requires a broad set of stakeholders. Boeing’s partnership with RSB in Africa exemplifies the power of collaboration in helping the aviation industry reach its goal of net zero by 2050, while considering the wider sustainability impact on the environment and society,” says Kuljit Ghata-Aura, president for Middle East, Türkiye and Africa, Boeing. 

The study also extended to Brazil in South America and was presented during the Boeing and RSB Sustainability Forum held in August in São Paulo, Brazil, where Boeing also demonstrated its dynamic climate impact modeling tool, Cascade.



About Boeing

As a leading global aerospace company, Boeing develops, manufactures and services commercial airplanes, defense products and space systems for customers in more than 150 countries. As a top U.S. exporter, the company leverages the talents of a global supplier base to advance economic opportunity, sustainability and community impact. Boeing’s diverse team is committed to innovating for the future, leading with sustainability, and cultivating a culture based on the company’s core values of safety, quality and integrity. Join our team and find your purpose at

About RSB

The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) is a global membership organisation that drives the just and sustainable transition to a bio-based and circular economy. Our sustainability framework has been developed by our multi-stakeholder membership, and is a uniquely robust and credible foundation for addressing the climate crisis. We use this foundation to develop projects, guidance and new knowledge and solutions that equip key decision-makers to deliver net-positive impacts for people and the planet.


Fuelling the Sustainable Bioeconomy – Creating impact through landscape-level programmes

Roadmap for SAF development in Ethiopia

Alien Energy: Unlocking the potential of invasive plants in South Africa

Boeing SAF fact sheet

Press contact

Cris Robertson
RSB Marketing & Communications Officer
cris.robertson [@]

Zeina El Hakam
Boeing Corporate Communications
+971 50 210 0810
zeina.elhakam [@]


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