Competition launched to improve air travel in Africa

Airports that invest in passenger experience perform better by maximising revenue opportunities
Airports that invest in passenger experience perform better by maximising revenue opportunities

UK-based Sita Air Transport Community Foundation, in partnership with Wits University and the Tshimologong Precinct, has introduced an innovation competition aimed at improving air travel in Africa.

According to Sita, participants will need to develop the best solution to the challenge titled: 'What information, tools or technology will first-time air travellers in Africa need to make their journeys easy, successful and enjoyable?'

The winner will receive $10 000 (about R110 000). The innovation competition kicks off this month and is open to Wits students and active members of the Tshimologong Precinct.

Although the competition was designed with Tshimologong members and postgraduate students in mind, undergraduate students are welcome to enter, but it is strongly recommended that teams are not composed of undergraduates only, says Sita.

Itumeleng Dhlamini, partner engagement manager at the Tshimologong Precinct, says that Africa is predicted to grow faster than any other region over the next 20 years.

The growth of aviation (air travel) in Africa is predicted by IATA to be 5.4% over the period 2014-2034, second only to the Middle East (6%). In IATA's 20-year passenger growth forecast of 2016, the top 10 fastest-growing markets by percentage are all in Africa, says Sita.

According to UN predictions, Africa stands out as the region set for the biggest increase in population over the next 20 years. Africa's middle class has tripled over the last 30 years, with one in three people now considered to be living above the poverty line, but not among the wealthy, says Deloitte. The current trajectory suggests that the African middle class will grow to 1.1 billion (42%) in 2060, it adds.

With the increasing penetration of mobile and digital technologies opening up access to travel and online booking, the opportunity exists for a greater number of people across Africa than ever to travel by air, it says.

"Taking this growth into account and the increasing penetration of mobile and digital technologies, Sita wanted to offer up the challenge to the people most likely to make up this new generation of air travellers."

Therefore, given the opportunities afforded by increases in disposable income, deeper adoption of mobile and digital technology, a changing demographic, and the predicted passenger growth, the challenge is looking for tools and technologies that will help first-time travellers in Africa have an enjoyable flying experience, says the Tshimologong Precinct.

Airports that invest in passenger experience perform better by maximising revenue opportunities, improving customer satisfaction and driving benefits, says the Sita report.

Sita has partnered with Wits University since 2015 to support students from Africa who need financial backing to succeed in their studies, and to add much-needed skills and expertise to the aviation industry through support for targeted academic disciplines, it says.

Each team, comprising of two to five members, needs to submit an initial two-minute video after attending a drop-in session on 27 March to better understand the issue, project and overall requirements, says the Tshimologong Precinct.

Judges will be representatives of Sita, Wits and Tshimologong. The decision of the judges will be based on the majority vote. In the event that the panel of judges numbers four in total, the chair will have the casting vote, says Sita.

The award will be made to the team that demonstrates the best understanding of the issue and which proposes the most innovative and relevant response, it adds.

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