On a continent facing burgeoning growth in economy, population and aviation, SITA's new Community Foundation is helping to create opportunities.
WORKING WITH THE COMMUNITY
The biggest increase in population over the next 20 years will take place in Africa. The region will see its average annual growth rate hit 4.5% in the next couple of years (World Economic Forum). And by 2034, there’ll be an extra 177 million passengers a year, out of the total market of 294 million (IATA).
Lending weight to these predictions, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) expects Africa’s GDP to reach 5.3% in 2017, with continued fast growth in sub-Saharan Africa.
There’s no doubt that higher passenger numbers in Africa will bring clear economic benefits. In the words of IATA’s CEO and Director General, Tony Tyler: “For a vast continent with challenging natural barriers to ground transportation, aviation is crucial for connectivity and development.
“Moreover, aviation supports 6.7 million jobs on the continent, with a significant proportion of those in high-tech and advanced skills work.
“In monetary terms, the industry stimulates a US$67.8 billion contribution to Africa’s GDP. Aviation facilitates tourism and business services, while air freight is crucial for the success of African organic produce, and supporting a growing manufacturing base.”
Earlier this year, participants at ICAO’s meeting on Sustainable Development of Air Transport in Africa keenly stressed the importance of air transport economic growth in the region.
But any growth in aviation, IT and telecommunications must be supported by skills development, they agreed, citing the requirement to strengthen expertise and skills to address the air transport sector’s modernization and increasing complexity.
With our focus on IT and education, we’ll be supporting skills development and helping students and schools to access technology. It’s been proven that initiatives like this increase attendance levels and learning and improve student advancement.Jappe Blaauw, President, SITA Council
SITA’s new Air Transport Community Foundation will play a part. Initiated by the SITA Council, it’s working with charities to deliver educational programs and technology to communities in Africa.
Some 32 schools in Uganda and Ethiopia will get computer labs in 2015, including solar power for two sites. A number of students in South Africa will receive educational grants too.
The Foundation will work with established organizations, including Computer Aid International, Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS), the University of the Witwatersrand, and the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).
In its first year, the program hopes to improve the educational life of more than 10,000 students.
SITA Council President Jappe Blaauw says that: “The 34 airline and air transport organization members of the SITA Council led the creation of the SITA Air Transport Community Foundation, with a plan to invest over the next five years.
“We believe this is a great opportunity for SITA and its 430-plus member organizations to make a positive impact in a number of African countries.”
He adds: “We’ve designed the Foundation’s program to reflect SITA’s involvement in Africa at a local level. It underlines SITA’s ability to provide value to the community by sharing our resource and expertise.
“With our focus on IT and education, we’ll be supporting skills development and helping students and schools to access technology. It’s been proven that initiatives like this increase attendance levels and learning and improve student advancement.”
In a year that marks the end of global, regional and local efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals aimed at eradicating poverty, the focus on job creation in Africa becomes all the more critical.
Africa’s working-age population will double to 1 billion in the next 25 years, reckons the World Economic Forum.
Ongoing investment by the SITA Air Transport Community Foundation will support student development in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, encouraging research and graduate flow into the region’s air transport industry.
“We have made a commitment over the next few years to concentrate on providing technological educational opportunities for young people in Africa,” says SITA’s CEO Francesco Violante.
“By working with students from schools and universities, we are helping to equip a new generation with essential IT and technology skills.”
SITA has funded and implemented computer labs in three schools in South Africa to date. Our employees use their company volunteer day to help prepare computer rooms, installing equipment, ensuring security and decorating them.
SITA’s ‘Another Level’ learnership program supports unemployed young people from disadvantaged backgrounds through three months of technical training and nine months of workplace experience, with the aim of earning a National Certificate in Technical Support.
Partners in this SITA program are Torque IT and MICT SETA, a government department. Nine learners graduated in 2014. One has been retained as a SITA employee now working at OR Tambo International Airport.