The African Drone Forum (ADF) officially kicked off today in Kigali, Rwanda, and drone businesses from around the world were there to demonstrate their technology to high level African stakeholders. (Livestream the ADF events here.)
Africa represents a huge opportunity: both for communities and for the drone industry. At the African Drone Forum, sponsors have brought together aviation regulators and stakeholders from all over the continent to collaborate on drone regulation issues and to see new technology and applications. For the technology providers who are demonstrating their solutions – from hardware to unmanned traffic management (UTM) and training and certification services – it’s an opportunity to be introduced to key players in a rapidly evolving and important new market, and interact with delegates from over 30 countries.
In addition to well known providers of drone technology and unmanned traffic management systems, the African Drone Forum provides the opportunity for new players to gain prominence and meet potential customers. The Lake Kivu Challenge allows providers from around the world to demonstrate their capabilties for 3 initial applications: delivery, sample pick up (i.e., picking up blood samples for lab testing) and search and rescue. The Entrepreneurial Challenge gives African entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their business cases and demonstrate how drone technology will benefit economies in adddition to communities. (Stay tuned for more coverage on both challenges.) For startups and new entrants into the drone market from around the world, the stakes – and the opportunities – are enormous.
Sarah Metcalf, Director of the U.K’s Department for International Development in Rwanda, says that stakeholders across the continent are committed to investing in drones. “We see the ever increasing importance of new technologies,” said Metcalf. “The fourth industrial revolution is opening new markets across Africa.”
“We want to look at drones not just as a cool new technology,” says the Honorable Paula Ingavire, Rwanda’s Minister of ICT and Innovation. “We need to think about how can we use this technology to address gaps in the infrastructure on the continent. That’s why you are seeing real success stories here – drones are addressing some direct problems that are critical for Africa.”