The African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) have published a drone report outlining the potential and the challenges for the drone industry on the continent.
The most successful drone delivery programs in the world are currently deployed in Africa. Medical logistics and drone delivery company Zipline has implemented delivery of medical and blood supplies to remote clinics in Rwanda: they plan to expand the program to Tanzania. In Malawi, UNICEF has implemented the first successful drone corridor for the delivery of vaccination supplies to rural areas. The report, however, sees the primary potential for the industry in precision agriculture.
Is Africa Ready for Drones?
One of the challenges that the continent faces in fully utilizing drone technology is that drones are still an unfamiliar tool to most of the populace: “Drone technologies are considered emerging, and are thus are quite novel, especially in Africa,” says the report.
The authors point out, however, that countries are more willing to utilize drones in an emergency situation such as a pressing public health issue or environmental event.
In addition to a lack of familiarity, the regulatory framework is insufficient to deal with drones in most of the African countries: the report says that only 26% of the countries currently have drone regulations in place: some countries have placed a temporary ban on drones.
Where drones are legal, they’re being used successfully, the report points out. The medical drone delivery programs are just one example. Morocco utilizes drones in agribusiness and surveillance of ports and construction progress. Drones are used for flood mapping in Tanzania, in order to predict and reduce the risk to affected communities.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
Subscribe to DroneLife here.