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Drone industry contributes millions to economy

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The drone industry is poised to make a multi-billion rand contribution to the country’s beleaguered economy.
This is according to economist Dr Roelof Botha, delivering his Economic Impact Assessment (EIA) of the South African drone industry at the “Drone Con: A Drone Conference for Professionals”, and event sponsored by United Drone Holdings (UDH).
“It is clear after comparing 2015 data to the latest economic impact assessment that the domestic drone industry is expanding exponentially,” he says.
The latest research indicates that the total economic output generated by the drone industry equates to an anticipated turnover of more than R2-billion and should create in excess of 30 000 jobs in 2017.
According to Botha, the methods used to determine his findings include distributing sample surveys among CUAASA members, estimating and concluding results and determining the average multiplier effects on the sector, as well as comparing results with South Africa/European Union and South Africa/US GDP ratios.
“Globally, technological advancement has transformed a vast number of industries over the past decade, but sectors such as real estate, mapping, infrastructure-monitoring and shipping have remained relatively unchanged. But Drones are in the process of dramatically changing these and a host of other applications,” he says.
UDH CEO Sean Reitz says the results are exciting for the drone industry as well as the economy.
“The commercial applications of drones are limitless, they go where humans can’t or shouldn’t go and make tasks safer, faster and often more accurate. Drones have proved to be beneficial to many key industries. The economic impact assessment reveals that drones have benefited our economy and will impact unemployment rates as well, which is very encouraging,” he says.
But Botha adds that, while industry growth can be regarded with certainty, “inappropriate regulatory structures” are hindering progress.
“Unless the South African transport authorities create a business-friendly and efficient set of regulations for commercial Drone activities, it may lead to a siphoning of jobs and economic activity to neighbouring states that do,” he says.