Airbus on Tuesday released The Great Enabler: Aerospace in Africa – a whitepaper on the role of aerospace technologies and their impact on socio-economic development in Africa. The extensive report 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 whitepaper 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.