SITA, the global communications and technology company owned by airlines and other members of the air transport industry, today announced the creation of a new corporate social responsibility initiative. The SITA Air Transport Community Foundation, initiated by the 34-member SITA Council, will work with charities to deliver educational programs and technology to communities in need. The Foundation’s initial focus will be in Africa where it will provide computer labs at schools in Ethiopia and Uganda, and educational grants at a university in South Africa.
Jappe Blaauw, President of the SITA Council, said: “The 34 airline and air transport organization members of the SITA Council have led the creation of the SITA Air Transport Community Foundation with a plan to invest over the next five years.
“We believe that this is a great opportunity for SITA, and its 430 member organizations, to create a positive impact across a number of African countries. The way we have designed this reflects SITA’s involvement at a local level and underlines how SITA can provide value to the community by sharing our resource and expertise. With our focus on IT and education, we’ll be supporting skills development and helping students and schools to have access to technology. Such initiatives have been proven to increase attendance levels and learning and improve student advancement.”
The Foundation will work with a number of established organizations, including Computer Aid International, Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS), the University of the Witwatersrand, and the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). In the first year of operation it is expected that the program will result in the creation of around 30 computer labs in schools, as well as a number of student grants. These will include three to five-year grants for a number of graduate and post-graduate positions. A further project will provide solar power to two schools. In its first year, the Foundation hopes to improve the educational life of more than 10,000 students.
Francesco Violante, CEO, SITA, said: “SITA is owned by and serves the global air transport industry and is committed to providing value to this community. We are now extending our focus with the SITA Air Transport Community Foundation. We have made a commitment over the next few years to concentrate on providing technological educational opportunities for young people in Africa. SITA has a strong presence on the continent – we have worked there for more than 50 years and today we have more than 250 employees located in 38 countries across Africa. By working with students from schools and universities, we are helping to equip a new generation with essential IT and technology skills.”
The first computer labs will be rolled out to schools in Uganda and Ethiopia throughout 2015, with students in South Africa being able to benefit from grants from August. The ongoing investment by the Foundation will support student development in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and through the post-graduate scholarship will encourage research and graduate flow into the air transport industry in Africa.
SITA is a member-owned organization with around 430 active members drawn from every sector of the air transport industry including airlines, airports, ground handlers, global distribution system (GDS) providers and aircraft manufacturers. In total, 95% of all international destinations and over 13,500 airports and industry sites are connected by SITA‘s communications network and almost every airline and airport in the world does business with SITA. The organization drives the IT agenda across the air transport industry researching and investing in the latest technology innovations.