Rwanda has been chosen as the host of the mainland drone forum and worldwide flying competitions scheduled for February 2020, fresh from gaining worldwide accolade as the “Uber for Blood” service supplier nation because of its blood supply to remote hospitals using drones.
In October 2016, President Paul Kagame pushed the take- off button to launch the country’s first plane into the skies – marking the country’s new means of transportation and distribution to remote parts of the nation of emergency medical supplies.
The project was a joint undertaking between the Ministry of Health and Zipline – a Silicon Valley robotics firm setting up a droneport in the Shyogwe industry in the county of Muhanga, Southern Rwanda.
The nation has created other locations from Muhanga’s primary droneport, the latest launched in Kayonza district, Eastern Rwanda, in January this year. Also, the nation has come up with an idea of using drones in other fields like agriculture.
Through a partnership with the World Bank and the World Economic Forum (WEF), the initiative to use the newest technology to save life has gained Rwanda a place to host worldwide flying competition.
The event will include a legislative summit that brings together leading figures from the private sector and airspace regulators in drone technology to highlight and discuss the possibilities for drone future in Africa.
Timothy Reuter, head of aerospace and drones in WEF said, “increasing use of drones in Africa will bring about not only benefits to business, agriculture and the health sector, but could quite literally save lives by taking deliveries off the roads and into the sky,”
“To unleash this potential, new policies need to be put in place that safely opens the skies to drones as most African countries do not yet permit the most beneficial applications,” Reuter said in a press release.
According to Riccardo Puliti, World Bank global director for energy and extractive industries and regional director for Africa, “The forum aims at the opening and testing the minds of engineers, regulators, entrepreneurs and investors,”
“The flying competitions will promote new industries and services, harness data for delivery and resilience, create activity hubs and opportunities to leapfrog technologies, and develop skill sets for 21st-century jobs in the region and beyond,” said Puliti.
Puliti added that the event will promote the skies above Africa as a valuable resource and technology to help build sustainable infrastructure.
According to WEF, Rwanda has been chosen as the host of the event because it is currently one of the only countries that has policies in place that allow the types of applications to be demonstrated in the competition.
The ground-breaking use of medical delivery drones by Rwanda, WEF added, supported by an open regulatory approach – developed with organizational support – showed exactly what a “forward-thinking government” can achieve.
Paula Ingabire, Rwanda Minister of Information and Communication Technology said that “the country is excited to host the Africa Drone Forum. It is a platform that will bring together policymakers, drones enthusiasts, experts and industry leaders to explore potential use case applications for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology in Africa.”
“It’s an opportunity for Rwanda to share our experience in pioneering the use of Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) UAV operations, and our development of drone regulations,” added Minister Ingabire.
Global specialists will be inviting businesses to compete in the flying contest that lead the way in drone technology.