African chapter of Women and Drones on the cards

In response to growing calls for more female involvement in the drone industry in Africa, one drone professional has a simple proposal – an African chapter of Women and Drones, which she says will be focussed on promoting women in the drone industry on the continent.

Louise Jupp, a drone professional and founder of agricultural drones consulting company Terreco Aviation, has announced that she will be launching the African Chapter of Women and Drones in the coming year.

“It is with great excitement that we announce plans to launch the first international chapter for Women and Drones in Africa in 2021,” said Jupp. “Given the advancement being made here (in Africa), I believe the time is right to extend this level of support in Africa to ensure more women and girls are aware of the opportunities in the drone industry. I have been in conversation with Sharon (Rossmark, the CEO at Women and Drones) regarding the establishment of a Women and Drones Chapter which focuses on engaging women in the African drone industry.”

Women and Drones is a membership organisation that, on its way to driving excellence in the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) industry, focusses on putting front and centre of that excellence, through their involvement on all stages of the drone economy value chain. They also partner with organisations committed to an inclusive culture where women can thrive, as well as encourage young girls to get involved with robotics from a young age.

At the Drones and Unmanned Aviation Conference held in Johannesburg last week, there were calls for the new drone body in South Africa – the Drone Council of South Africa – to lobby for policy measures that would promote the incorporation of more women into the industry.

Prominent female drone professionals have been a precious few in Africa, with the continent counting on the likes of only Jupp; Kim James, who her job in finance to join UAV Aerial Works; Anne Nderitu, the Chief Operating Officer and fixed-wing drone pilot at Kenya Flying Labs; Kelebogile Molopyane, the founding director at the DCSA; Dr Debbie Jewitt at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife; and a few others in positions of lesser power.

Most of the protagonist in the drone industry are men.

Through the new venture, Jupp would like to change that. Her mission is to raise awareness of the roles women can play in the drone industry to inspire and support their greater involvement in Africa.

“To start with, I will host the Coffee Connection Africa for the local professional drone community,” she explains. Coffee connections are get-together events (which have been online since the coronavirus outbreak worldwide) where women come together to discuss developments in the industry. The main organisation regularly hold such events on their platforms.

“We will include spotlight speakers from the professional drone industry across Africa and provide a friendly forum for attendees to meet, share experiences and support each other for professional and personal growth. Coffee Connection Africa will also be open to the wider Women and Drones community providing more opportunity to engage with drone professionals from around the world.”

We still have societies on the continent where the education of women and girls is not a priority, so we have to applaud the efforts by Louise to shed light on the good works women are doing on the drone technology front, as this can be an inspiration to younger generations to take up the challenge of robotics.

We wish the new chapter of Women and Drones all the success it deserves.

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