Airbus has released a new report on the role of aerospace technologies and their impact on socio-economic development in Africa.
Titled The Great Enabler: Aerospace in Africa – a White Paper and released on 30 October, it looks at how different segments of the industry can address a core set of challenges on the continent by: increasing access to healthcare; enhancing food security by making African agriculture more competitive and sustainable; promoting education, training and innovation; empowering businesses with innovative products and solutions; and breaking down barriers to the movement of people and goods across Africa.
The report was officially launched at a special summit convening African government officials, policymakers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, intergovernmental bodies and multilateral development organisations in Toulouse, France.
“The aerospace industry offers solutions to many of the socio-economic challenges Africa is facing on the path to sustainable development. A paradigm shift from thinking about aerospace as an isolated industry to a key enabler of socio-economic change is necessary to realise its benefits for a prosperous future. That is what this White Paper is aiming at, by highlighting different ways in which aerospace technology can support social and economic development in Africa,” said Mikail Houari, President Airbus Africa Middle East.
The white paper analyses the role of aerospace technologies in sectors with the greatest possible impact on social and economic development including manufacturing and industrialisation, civil aviation, agriculture, healthcare and humanitarian assistance:
On manufacturing and industrialisation, many African countries are final consumers in the global aerospace value chain. Joining the ranks of producers in this value chain is challenging for many but not impossible. The examples of Africa’s current leaders in aerospace – South Africa, Tunisia and Morocco – demonstrate the complexities but also the opportunities for African countries to develop aerospace manufacturing and industrialisation capacity. Key among these opportunities is Africa’s potential demographic dividend, which will be achieved by investing in its youthful and increasingly techno-savvy population.
In the aviation sector, the key question remains how to connect people to markets and goods in a faster, cheaper and more efficient way in order to maximise the sector’s role as an economic engine and a vehicle for greater integration in Africa.
Agriculture is perhaps the most consequential pillar of the continent’s sustainable development. However, despite employing more than 60 percent of Africa’s population, the sector contributes only about 15 percent of the continent’s GDP as underlying challenges persist. Aerospace technology such as precision farming could potentially reverse this situation by enabling farmers to produce more with less.
Access to healthcare is still a challenge for many rural populations. While building on the existing technologies in the sector – such as air ambulances – new technology will further change the dynamics of access to medical care and emergency response in terms of quantity, distance and data collection.
The report also stresses the need for clear government policies to harness the power of aerospace technology, concluding with key recommendations on human capital development, partnerships and financing.
The research was based on 30 in-depth interviews with a cross-section of stakeholders including: African Union Commission, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, African Development Bank, United Nations World Tourism Organisation, World Bank, International Finance Corporation, Kenya Red Cross, International Air Transport Association, African Airlines Association, South African National Space Agency, Nigeria’s National Space Research and Development Agency, Airbus Bizlab, Farmerline, Air Mauritius, Air Seychelles, Congo Airways, Fastjet, Overland Airways, Aerosud, Denel Aerostructures, Lazard, MARA Group, One2Five Advisory, Ag.Aviation Africa, an ch-Aviation.
Also on 30 October, Airbus announced the launch of its second edition of #Africa4Future, a joint accelerator programme between Airbus’ global aerospace accelerator BizLab and Make-IT in Africa, a programme by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit German (GIZ), the German agency for International Cooperation.
First launched in 2017, the #Africa4Future initiative was created by Airbus BizLab with the objective to encourage and support entrepreneurship in Africa. Through #Africa4future, Airbus seeks to build bridges between the aerospace industry and the different players in Africa.
For this second edition, Airbus calls for African tech start-ups that are actively working on solutions related to unmanned logistics and remote sensing technology, including automation and drones, electrification, blockchain, artificial intelligence, data analytics and material composites and manufacturing.
The joint programme will be implemented by the MEST and Innocircle consortium—two organizations with a significant presence and deep knowledge of entrepreneurial ecosystems in Africa.
Startups can submit applications for the programme until 30 November 2018 via https://www.airbus-bizlab.com/africa4future. Following review, ten applicants will be chosen for to receive the opportunity to join #Africa4Future, a six-month acceleration programme, starting on 7 January 2019.