President Paul Kagame believes African has the potential to design and manufacture drones as opposed to simply using them only.
“Why limit ourselves to just using drones? We can also design and manufacture drones in Africa, as demonstrated by examples at this forum,” Kagame said on Wednesday morning while officially opening the first-ever African Drone Forum taking place in Kigali.
Kagame said that manufacturing drones from Africa will allow the technology to be tailored to the continent’s specific needs, and to help create new industries that generate employment and prosperity.
“We are already seeing some of the benefits, not to mention the even bigger potential that lies ahead,” he told over 800 participants from around the world, mostly industry experts.
He said the use of drones to deliver life-saving blood products and vaccines to remote health centres, is already a reality in Rwanda, through the country’s partnership with Zipline.
A Rwandan company, Charis UAS, is using drone technology for crop monitoring and mapping, to support the productivity of Rwandan farmers.
also, another application already in use, is the inspection of power transmission lines from the air, to help make electricity grid more reliable.
There is also a pilot project to test the effectiveness of drones for mosquito spraying.
“There is so much that can be done with this technology. The African Drone Forum therefore comes at the right time,” Kagame said.
He offered his thoughts on the importance of this work for the continent.
“First, the policies and regulation that we put in place should promote innovation, not slow it down. Our experience in this sector has been that the priorities of safety, security, and innovation can all be effectively catered for, within the regulatory framework,” he said.
Second, he said, “continued investment in physical infrastructure and human capital, should go hand-in-hand with the adoption of drone technology…Why limit ourselves to just using drones? We can also design and manufacture drones in Africa, as demonstrated by examples at this forum.”
He said this allows the technology to be tailored to the continent’s specific needs, and to help create new industries that generate employment and prosperity.
“Finally, cross-border cooperation is essential,” Kagame continued saying that, “The flying competitions taking place in Karongi illustrate how much there is to gain, by fostering regional cooperation in this sector.”
Before the conference, participants had visited Karongi district in Western Rwanda to witness the Lake Kivu Challenge Flying Competition, which will continue there later this week.
“This tournament has a great practical value, because competitors get to demonstrate what is possible, on the ground,” Kagame said. “I trust that the 5th East African Community Aviation Symposium, taking place later this month, will bring us closer to regional harmonisation in terms of policy and regulation.
The African Drone Forum is about turning challenges into opportunities.
“This can-do mindset should inspire and guide us more broadly, in all that we are trying to achieve for our continent, and the world as a whole.”
Click on the link below for photos/ State House