Rectron’s investment into South Africa’s drone industry

South African information and communication technology distributer Recton, which is a DJI reseller in the country, is keen to make its mark in the local drone space, having spent close to one million rand on just two organisations recently.

In March this year, Rectron injected R650,000 into drone training company Ntsu Aviation, which will go towards training and placing of drone pilots; staff equipment and related operations.

Then last week, the company made a R351 000 donation of enterprise agricultural drone system to the University of the Free State’s Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

In Rectron’s explanation, the donation is aimed at improving the academic institution’s ability to unlock a myriad smart farming solutions through drone training, licensing and ongoing compliance.

“More than a once-off project, this marks the latest in a wider series of strategic and ongoing investments into Southern Africa’s drone technological capacity and best practice,” says Spencer Chen, Rectron CEO.

“The DJI Agras T40 drone we acquired for the University offers the most advanced, high-quality precision aerial capabilities to start making a positive impact in the Free State’s agricultural sector, which we have recognised as vital South African food security.”

Located in central South Africa, the Free State Province is the country’s agricultural hub, with statistics from the agricultural ministry estimating that agriculture accounts for 90 percent of land use in the province, which in 2020 was only second to the Northern Cape.

“Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (AUVs) equipped with advance sensors and imaging technology can be quickly, easily and accurately deployed over vast territories of land (including those inaccessible by foot or vehicles) by license drone pilots,” says Ruan Botha, Rectron product manager.

“Data collected can then be used to generate detailed reports on soil health, topography, animal movement and a host of other conditions in real time, informing more targeted interventions.”

This partnership with the university is testament to Rectron’s commitment to the growth of the drone industry in South Africa, with product manager Yvelde Wilkins explaining that his company had identified channel partners with potential to play key roles in the drive towards scaling up the industry.

The other such partner is Ntsu Aviation, into which Rectron has committed a capital injection of R650,000 to supplement the company’s pilot training operations.

Founded by Sam Twala, Ntsu Aviation is a pilot training and drone consultancy services company, which has trained scores of pilots and helped a decent number of drone services company acquire their Remote Operator’s Certificate (ROCs) since its formation.

“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,” Twala said at the time the investment was announced.

“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.”

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