#Africa4Future – The African Hub for Ideas in Logistics and Remote Sensing

Businesses are the driving force behind Africa's digital transformation. Oftentimes it is local entrepreneurs who fin innovative solutions to development challenges. Not only does their work have positive social impact, it creates new job opportunities with great future potential too. The continent's young and increasingly technophile population is a catalyst for Africa's socioeconomic development. Some African states already bring various innovations to the table that allow for sustainable development in the fields of agriculture, energy and fintech. They employ different technologies such as apps, the internet of things (IoT), 3D printing or blockchain. Nonetheless, there are numerous obstacles for young technology startups in sub-Saharan Africa: Their access to sector-specific communities could be limited. Necessary training and coaching is not available everywhere or the companies lack capital, consumers, employees and digital infrastructure. This is where #Africa4Future comes in to present new perspectives and boost competitive advantages in a sustainable fashion. #Africa4Future is a joint venture accelerator program by Airbus BizLab and the Tech-Entrepreneurship-Initiative Make-IT of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It specializes in supporting and promoting up-and-coming businesses in the aviation technology industry in Africa. The Accelerator focuses on startups that are exploring digital solutions in the field of autonomous logistics and remote sensing. By doing this, the project contributes significantly to the Social Development Goals of the United Nations (mainly to the SDGs two, nine and eleven).

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“These connections to experts from the industry, important actors in the ecosystem and supporting engineers from airbus have brought us straight to the heart of the aviation technology community”, says Spencer Horne about the accelerator program. Horne is co-founder of “Cloudline”, one of ten teams that got selected from a group of 300 applicants from Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Mali and South Africa. Over the course of a six-month exposure and mentoring program, the startups are being supported in their endeavors in the sectors health, infrastructure, logistics, agricultre and water and waste management. As mentioned by Horne, the program brings African entrepreneurs together with various experts, partners and potential clients. The goal is to build a platform that not only provides means of exchanging knowledge but also inspires future collaborations.

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The Birth of a Pan-African Network

The participating startups already managed to sign contracts that range from licensing deals with Airbus to partnership with international institutions. Furthermore, they were able to engage in collaborations in the industry which is going to lead to future businesses opportunities. One of the most important successes is the fact that the startups formed partnerships among each other. They became each others clients, transcending both national and industry borders. In the end, this lead to the founding of the “ African Aerospace and remote Data Alliance” (AARDA). AARDA is the first Pan-African association representing businesses from the fields of drone technology, IoT and geodata. In the future, AARDA is going to actively lobby for more favorable regulations, create new opportunities in the markets and foster further partnerships among its members.

Sector: Remote sensing and autonomous logistics
Region: Pan-African
Technology: Sensor technology / drones / platform
Project Status: completed