Africa not harnessing full potential of aerospace — Airbus chief

BY: Kester Aburam Korankye
Some participants in the launch of the white paper on aerospace in Africa
Some participants in the launch of the white paper on aerospace in Africa

The Africa and Middle East President of Airbus, a commercial aircraft manufacturer, Mr Mikail Hourari, has lauded the aerospace industry as a major enabler for growth and development in Africa.

He has, however, bemoaned the inability of the continent to properly integrate the industry into the wider economy to help harness its full potential.

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In an address at the launch of a white paper on the role of aerospace technology and its impact on socio-economic development in Africa, Mr Hourari said the time had come for a paradigm shift from treating aerospace as an isolated industry to a key enabler of socio-economic change.

That, he said, was needed to help realise the full benefits of the sector for the development of African countries.

“The aerospace industry offers solutions to many of the socio-economic challenges Africa is facing on the path to sustainable development,” he said in Toulouse, France, on October 30.

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Mr Hourari said for the continent to harness the full potential of the industry, governments must collaborate to develop their human capital.

He also advised African governments to inculcate the spirit of research and innovation in the youth at the national level to encourage more people to adopt emerging technologies to address the developmental challenges of the continent.

He further asked government officials and policy makers to develop and implement clear and realistic strategies to enable countries on the continent to reap the benefits of the aerospace industry.

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Focus of White Paper

The White Paper was aimed at highlighting the different ways in which aerospace technology can support social and economic development of Africa.

Dubbed: ‘The Great Enabler, Aerospace in Africa,’ the extensive report focused on how different segments of the industry could address a core set of challenges on the continent by increasing access to health care, enhancing food security by making agriculture more competitive and sustainable, and promoting education.

The report also focused on training and innovation, empowering businesses with innovative products and solutions, as well as breaking down barriers to the movement of people and goods across Africa.

It, however, analysed the role of aerospace technologies in sectors with the greatest possible impact on the social and economic development of Africa, including manufacturing and industrialisation, civil aviation, agriculture, health care and humanitarian assistance.

Mode of research

The report also stressed the need for clear government policies to harness the power of aerospace technology with the concentration on human capital development, partnerships and financing.

The research was based on 30 in-depth interviews with a cross-section of stakeholders, including the 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 and the International Air Transport Association.

The launch brought together government officials from Africa, policymakers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, inter-governmental bodies and multilateral development organisations.