Rectron backs drone startup with a R650k investment

Christopher Tredger
By Christopher Tredger, Portals editor
Johannesburg, 26 Mar 2024
Rectron has partnered with service provider startup to lift SA’s drone industry.
Rectron has partnered with service provider startup to lift SA’s drone industry.

ICT distributor Rectron has partnered with Johannesburg-based Rectron reseller NTSU Aviation Solutions to develop skills and infrastructure within South Africa’s drones market.

NTSU Aviation Solutions is a startup specialising in remotely piloted, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones, offering services for acquiring Air Service Licence (ASL) and UAS Operators Certificate (UASOC) approval.

Rectron has committed to invest R650 000 to enable NTSU Aviation to place drone pilots and equip staff, including technicians, administrative and consultancy personnel. 

Yvelde Wilkins, product manager at Rectron, says through its enterprise development commitment, Rectron has identified channel partners like NTSU as an opportunity to invest into key growth sectors such as the drone industry.

Sam Twala, founder and MD at NTSU Aviation Solutions, says the drone market, while critical and rich with opportunity, is severely under-resourced.

“With the expected growth in demand for drones in relevant industries - like agriculture, nature conservation, construction, law enforcement, search and rescue and others - there needs to be a significant investment in general skills associated with safe operation of these unmanned aircraft, as well as sector specific best practice,” says Twala.

Developing this expertise requires an integrated approach, encompassing environmental best practices, legal understanding, and compliance with Civil Aviation Authority regulations.

“For instance, pilots need to be well-versed in environmental best practice when operating across vast territories (nature conservation or agriculture). In law enforcement applications, they need to be coached on the rights of citizens and irrespective of the use case, all stakeholders must understand what is required by the Civil Aviation Authority.”

R650 000 investment

Twala quotes Statista research which says the South African drone market is expected to generate revenue of $10m in 2024 (up 12.4% from last year) and is projected to experience an annual growth rate of 4.58%.

He says there is a positive knock-on effect and relevant industries like parts manufacturing and maintenance operators will fuel the growth.

“For instance, the growth of artificial intelligence capabilities in the commercial and consumer sector will lead to smarter ways of deploying drones, enabled by ever-expanding data sets to optimise performance and efficiencies,” he says.

NTSU Aviation believes the drone industry will create new job opportunities for the country’s youth.

In 2023, Rectron and NTSU Aviation’s Drone Academy trained seven students, securing drone pilot licenses and maintenance technician positions. All students were employed immediately after completing training across engineering, land surveying, environmental monitoring, and infrastructure inspection fields.

Twala adds, “Precision agriculture relies on DJI Agriculture drones for crop monitoring, soil analysis, and pest control. Youth with an interest in farming and technology can explore this field.”