Friday 23 July 2021


An innovative first in Africa: Specialised drone courses

By Nonkulule ko Britton

T he Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to a myriad of controversial viewpoints and threats when analysing the impact, on both social and economic levels in the South African context. However, an industry facing continued opportunity and exponential growth in these uncertain times is that of drone aviation. The versatility of its applications in multiple sectors provides an ideal aid for economic growth, specifically in the small business sector.

Refilwe Ledwaba, Drone Safety Legal (DSL) General Manager, explains: “As the global drone industry is expected to grow by 51.1% over the next eight years, the demand for skilled pilots or drone professionals is increasing. This creates a new pathway into aviation and other sectors,”. Since drones are primarily used as data collection tools in a variety of industries, knowledge of those industries is key if one is to maximise drones’ utility and effectiveness going forward, she adds.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that drone professionals who have specialised knowledge and understanding of specific industries, and their respective needs and challenges, are in demand, as opposed to generalist drone operators. As it currently stands, education in drone operation does not fit within the typical framework of most university faculties and departments. “Therefore, the educational and professional development of those who will work in the drone industry of the future needs to include the establishment of original coursework dedicated to drones and application,” she says.

While drones are used extensively in mining, there is now a rapid increase in the adoption of the technology in agriculture and civil engineering as well. The increasing need for the services drone professionals and drone technology can provide is creating a change in the way these industries are being structured.

Enterprises University of Pretoria (Pty) Ltd (Enterprises UP) has officially launched an exclusive partnership with Drone Safety and Legal (DSL) to provide specialised short courses in drone applications.

The first limited intake will commence May 2021, aimed at the Sustainable Mining, Precision Agriculture and Civil Engineering sectors and inclusive of a South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) Remote Pilot License (RPL) by DSL. Upon successful completion, delegates will gain a specialised skill, which can be advantageous in the employment marketplace.

The courses will combine the practical in-field experience that DSL offers and the theoretical expertise of the University of Pretoria (UP), to provide a holistic training experience. In combining your RPL license with a specialised application course in the use of drones in civil engineering, agriculture or mining, you can redefine your future locally or even internationally.

Along with this academic programme is the construction of a world-class Unmanned Training and Research Centre run by DSL and used by UP as a unique practical training space and drone research facility, located in Gauteng.

This game-changing series of courses will redefine the role of technology, in the future of both study and work. Enterprises University of Pretoria offers solutions-driven research and training services. If you wish for us to provide you with more information, please contact us at +27(0)12 434 2500 or visit www.enterprises.up.ac.za.


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