By Etienne Mainimo
The Young African Aviation Professional Association Forum, YAAPA through the Youth Aviation Forum for Africa, YAFA has educated and raised awareness of opportunities in the aviation sector for youths as Cameroon celebrates the 57th National Youth Week.
In a ceremony organized in Yaounde on February 9, students from the Refugee, Redemption Bilingual School Complex in Cariere Yaounde, were told to dream big and work hard because aviation is the big connection and the world of aviation is crying for young and skilled persons.
The 2023 edition of YAFA was held under the theme, “Aviation Stakeholders Promoting Youths in Aviation.”
Speaking shortly after the ceremony, Henrik Hololei, the Director General of Mobility and Transport, MOVE, at the European Union said it is absolutely essential that many young people begin to be interested in aviation which will help to connect countries better.
“It is a privilege to be here today and to attend the YAAPA youth forum. I am absolutely amazed at the work which is been done here in order to empower young people and to give them the opportunity and chance. I am particularly happy to see so many young people interested in aviation”, Henrik Hololei said.
He added, “I think aviation is part of Cameroon and the African future. It is absolutely essential that we get many young people interested in aviation and give this a new boost which will help to connect this country better. Give people the opportunity they never had before but also bring the whole of African continent much closer together.”
Besides, he encourages students to work hard and continue to invest in themselves by learning. He said, they should never give up but dream of bringing the necessary change as well as thrive for excellence.
To Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo, Founder, and President of YAAPA, young people are needed to dream and to dream about the future Africa of connectivity, it starts with mobility.
“As we celebrate the 57th edition of the National Youth Day, one message we want the youths to take back home is, SAATM (Single African Air Transport Market) for Africa at all costs because if we have a SAATM for everyone in Africa; if all the states decide, abide and implement it, it will give us an opportunity, us as Africans to move around, collaborate and improve our economy,” Fadimatou Simo said.
She further said, “If we want to do that, we need young people to dream and to dream about the future Africa of connectivity, it starts with mobility. This exchange is important because it helps them to touch the real finger.”
According to Fadimatou Simo, SAATM, is the flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063, an initiative of the African Union to create a single unified air transport market in Africa to advance the liberalization of civil aviation in Africa as well as act as an impetus to the continent’s economic integration agenda. 34 countries have signed up to SAATM including Cameroon.
Meanwhile, students hailed discussions during the forum indicating that they are going back home with a message of believing that they are the real change maker. “I am happy to my school and the organizers for this opportunity given to me and my classmates to know about the aviation sector. I am going to thrive to be part of this sector and to do that I need to work harder. I promise I will do that,” a student said.
YAFA was launched in February 2016 in Cameroon and is a forum that provides a platform of exchange between African Youths and Aviation stakeholders worldwide. It will rotate amongst the 54 African states to raise more awareness.
YAAPA is a nonprofit association to promote, attracts, and retains, through communication, young Africans. The Association was founded in 2O14 with the motivation to develop qualified manpower for a safe and secure African aviation industry and to create awareness of human resource development opportunities across the continent among youths, especially girls.
With the vision to inspire, mentor and empower young Africans across the continent, the association has been at the forefront of the creation of a network amongst African aviation professionals for the communication and exchange of best practices in both rural and urban areas across Africa.
YAAPA’s engagement is motivated by the need to address the shortage of skilled professionals in the aviation and aerospace industry in Africa as well as other Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related industries, by motivating youths and encouraging them to pursue careers involving these subject areas.