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Late 2018, aircraft manufacturer Airbus launched a white paper on the aerospace industry in Africa. A lovely term in English but what actually is a ‘white paper’? I mean after all, isn’t most paper white?

“A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body's philosophy on the matter. It is meant to help readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.”

Airbus has done extensive research and work on which their white paper is build. The Airbus white paper calls for a paradigm shift from thinking about aerospace as an isolated industry to a key enabler of socio-economic change. The white paper highlights different ways in which aerospace technology can enable social and economic development in Africa. Importantly, it speaks of how human capital development is Africa’s ticket to competitiveness. It details the importance for our industry to increase our investments in people.

The white paper continues to detail how government policies should focus on investing in human capital – by transferring high-level skills that are essential for the development and growth of the aerospace industry in their respective countries.

You keep reading about Africa having the youngest population in the world, with 200 million people between ages 15 and 24. This enterprising and techno-savvy generation has an appetite for innovation, technology and digitalization.
But at the same time, less than 25% of students who graduate from African universities have degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Luckily, new forms of training and incubation of entrepreneurs are flowing in to fill a shortfall in formal STEM education.

Our AviAssist Safety Promotion Centres (ASPCs) are part of that. We focus on closing that gap between students with an interest in the aviation industry but challenges in entering it. With our first trainee entering a trial traineeship, we are carefully rolling out our investment in the aviation safety promotion capabilities throughout the continent. Over time, we aim to have a number of trainees working as a team in the ASPCs - that way, we prepare them to enter our industry and, hopefully, our ranks. Starting in Rwanda, we aim to roll out to Ghana and Zambia with the next ASPCs over the coming decade. We combine training that builds on STEM quality with due attention to the 4Cs of 21st century training: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication.

Harnessing the power of Africa’s youthful population to create competitiveness does not happen passively. For a country or region to become competitive in a labour and capital-intensive industry like aerospace, there must be accelerated investments in people to create the right skills.

Our work, especially with the ASPCs, is all about making ambition and ideas meet technology and resources. That is what government officials and policymakers should seek to replicate and support across the continent.

In September alone, we invested in over 80 aviation professionals from 7 African countries, carefully spreading the safety gospel to all corners of the continent.

AviAssist is uniquely positioned to help drive that development with our ever growing family of volunteer professionals, very low overhead costs and family of Friends of AviAssist.
We are pleased to have included the first aircraft manufacturer among our ranks and hope that others will join ATR in investing in African young professionals.

But we need your support to realise our Big Vision. We need your partnership, expertise and dedication to help us develop safety promotion services that African aviation needs. We need financial support but perhaps just as important, we need support to market and distribute those services around the continent.

Join our work as a safety expert, as a marketing professional or as a Friend and invest in Africa's professionals.

Best aviation regards, Tom

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