Creating opportunities for young people needs fresh input from industry players across the globe said Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo.

Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo

Africa needs help from aviation professionals across the world to realize its potential, a leading figure in the region has said.

Receiving her High Flyer Award at the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) AGM in Seoul, South Korea, Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo said an exchange of ideas and information can inspire the youth of Africa to pursue a career in the industry.

“We know you are all interested in seeing aviation prosper, but [Africa] too is part of the world and all of us are ready in our respective activities,” said Noutchemo Simo.

“We reach out to you through our different forums and projects to give the opportunity to these underprivileged kids who are passionate about joining the industry, but don’t have the possibility. With passion, we can move mountains.”

Thank you to everyone who at respective conferences, in one way or another, inspired me by making me understand that I was on the right track

The High Flyer Award was presented as part of IATA’s inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Awards, and was given to Noutchemo Simo for her work with the Young African Aviation Professional Association (YAAPA), which she founded in 2014.

YAAPA encourages and raises awareness of aviation as a potential career in communities that may not ordinarily be exposed to the benefits of air transport.

Through her work, Noutchemo Simo has hosted many events for young people looking at the industry as a possible career option, creating scholarship programs and also establishing a community center in Cameroon where young people can seek mentorship opportunities.

Receiving her award, the YAAPA Founder said IATA played an instrumental role in supporting aviation opportunities for young people in Africa.

“They always reached out and reassured me that my ideas were not stupid,” she told delegates. “Thank you to everyone who at respective conferences, in one way or another, inspired me by making me understand that I was on the right track.”

Noutchemo Simo thanked figures from IATA such as Raphael Kuuchi, Adefunke Adeyemi and Fabrice Sahiri for supporting her vision to improve aviation in the region.

She also praised awards sponsor Qatar Airways and said the $25,000 prize given to each winner will provide plenty of new equipment and the possibility to show children around airports and explain the opportunities available to them.

“But after all that, the passion of being educated, the passion through technology of seeing what is happening elsewhere and getting young people involved is the best thing we will offer them through our community centre, which will improve with this money we receive,” Noutchemo Simo said.

“I am going to take this award to all the regions of Africa, because we are working for a united Africa and I thank all of you for this award.”