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Drone industry in Africa

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Drone industry in Africa

Africa is beginning to recognize the many benefits of using drones for both commercial and non-commercial purposes, driving the growth of this emerging industry.

Drone technology : Powerful tool for African economy

Drones are playing a crucial role in addressing various socio-economic and environmental challenges across Africa. Particularly in regions with limited road infrastructure, drones are emerging as a highly effective solution for providing logistics services, facilitating the delivery of essential supplies to remote rural areas.

Moreover, drones are revolutionizing African agriculture by enhancing efficiency, precision, and reliability while minimizing costs. This transformative technology optimizes agricultural yields by streamlining production processes and reducing operational expenses. Undoubtedly, drones are proving to be a powerful tool across multiple sectors of the economy, driving modernization and innovation in Africa.

Drone solutions in Africa

Drone technology is bringing innovation to people’s everyday lives. Drones are no longer used only for surveillance or as a means of defense in the military. In Africa, the state of road infrastructure in rural areas can act as a brake on development.

Under certain conditions, drones can help make up for the lack of infrastructure. And investing in this technology can help meet regional demands more efficiently and cost-effectively. Drones are currently being used in various sectors in Africa, as described below.

Improving information systems and Big Data

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are mainly used to map, visualize and analyze territories. Many African startups are currently using GIS drones to collect aerial photos that are clearer than satellite photos. Compared with manned aircraft for space imagery, drones have the distinctive feature of being flexible yet able to fly on location and access areas inaccessible to aircraft.

Drones can be deployed rapidly and regularly used routes can be automated, minimizing human error. What’s more, these machines are also more environmentally friendly, reducing the risk of damage to people or property. Finally, drones are useful in collecting emission data and geographical information for survey purposes.

These mini-drones can collect information on particulate matter and other atmospheric pollutants (CO₂, CO, NH₃, SO₂, O₃ and NO₂). So, for data collection requiring aerial positions, drones are the best tool to use, as they can be positioned exactly where they are needed.

For structures carrying out big data analysis and machine learning, drones can significantly reduce the time spent in the field, as they can capture multiple types of data in a single flight.

Importance of drones in the agricultural sector

Agricultural community is undeniably benefiting from the introduction of drones in Africa. Farmers face the challenge of producing enough food to meet demand. However, yields of different crops can be difficult to anticipate.

Farmers can use drones to monitor their crops more effectively and determine much more quickly where and when they need to :

  • Spray insecticide
  • Water fields
  • Anticipate environmental degradation

The benefits of drones in healthcare

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2017, around 295,000 women died worldwide from largely preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Two-thirds of these deaths are recorded in sub-Saharan Africa. Mainly because the blood didn’t reach the patient quickly enough. And for good reason : traditional means of transport waste far too much time, due to poor road infrastructure and long distances.

In Africa, drones can now be used to deliver blood and vaccines to remote areas, while others are used to spray larvicides in swamps to combat malaria.

Drone in Africa : Some examples of deployed programs

These drone technology projects cover a wide range of sectors in Africa, including healthcare, agriculture, security, photography, manufacturing and many others.

Zipline and the Rwandan government

The partnership between the Rwandan government and Silicon Valley company Zipline is paving the way for an innovative solution with significant implications for public health. Since 2016, select hospitals and medical facilities have been leveraging this collaboration to swiftly order blood bags during emergencies, with delivery facilitated by drones. This expedited delivery process significantly accelerates response times and empowers healthcare professionals in remote regions to save lives. Zipline’s drones, capable of carrying up to 1.5 kg of cargo and reaching speeds of 90 km/h, play a pivotal role in this endeavor.

This initiative underscores the transformative impact that emerging technologies can have on healthcare delivery. With plans to extend its services beyond blood delivery to encompass medicines, vaccines, and other essential medical supplies to health centers in remote areas, Zipline is further expanding its reach. The company is now venturing into Ghana, exemplifying its commitment to leveraging innovation to address critical healthcare challenges and improve access to medical resources in underserved communities.

In this project, as in Rwanda’s space industry, the government is putting its money where its mouth is.

Tulip Industry

Tulip Industry is a West African start-up specializing in high technology and innovation. Its founder is committed to deploying drones and engineering systems to improve and optimize agricultural production in Guinea and the sub-region. The entrepreneur has already set up an automated system for transmitting medical data between hospitals and the Ministry of Health.

Drone Africa Service

Drones are developing rapidly on the continent, offering advantages tailored to local realities:

  • Immensity of territories
  • Low operating costs
  • Rapid air transport

In Niger, Drone Africa Service has made drone production its specialty. Civilian drones dedicated to aerial photography, as well as other services targeting multiple sectors: agriculture, environment, surveillance of protected areas, risk and disaster prevention and management, construction industry, communication, tourism, etc. The startup’s ambition is to become the leader in aerial imaging in West Africa.

i-Drone Services Limited

Established in late 2016, i-Drone Services Limited is a Zambian company at the forefront of leveraging drone technology to monitor and analyze farms, thereby enhancing agricultural yields through data-driven decision-making.

Furthermore, the company is initiating the « Idrone4ag Youth Project », which aims to train young individuals in drone usage. This ambitious project seeks to equip the youth with valuable skills in drone technology, with a long-term vision of fostering skilled agricultural employment opportunities. By empowering young people with specialized knowledge, i-Drone Services aims to mitigate rural exodus and contribute to sustainable economic development in Zambia.

Harmonizing and regulating drone use in Africa

Regulating aerial data is imperative due to its direct association with privacy protection, underscoring the critical need for robust security measures. However, the development of drone regulations remains ongoing worldwide, with Africa navigating similar challenges. Presently, regulatory frameworks vary across countries on the continent.

For instance, in some North African nations like Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt, the use of private drones is prohibited. Conversely, countries such as Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Botswana permit drone operations under the authorization of the respective Civil Aviation Authority. However, in certain regions like Liberia, the absence of a legal framework leaves the use of drones largely unregulated. This divergence in regulatory approaches underscores the complexity of harmonizing drone regulations across Africa.

The harmonization of drone regulations in Africa is a necessity and will facilitate the movement of drone operators across countries. Especially to catch up with other African countries compared to the deployment of drone technology in South Africa, which is well ahead.

The drone market in Africa in figures

  • In 2024, drone sales in Africa are estimated at 46.5 million USD.
  • Sales are expected to grow at an annual CAGR of 5.01 % (2024-2028).
  • By global comparison, China generates the highest revenues, with 1,526.0 million USD in 2024.
  • By 2028, drone market volume will reach 121.7,000 units.

The African drone market is experiencing significant growth, driven by its vast and diverse landscapes that require advanced aerial surveillance and delivery capabilities.

Source : https://www.statista.com/outlook/cmo/consumer-electronics/drones/africa

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