Govt, US firm sign drone project deal


Zipline Inc. CEO Keller Rinaudo signs an agreemet with the Government of Rwanda, represented by Jean-Philibert Nsengimana (Minister of Youth and ICT), and Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mazarti from the Ministry of Health. (Faustin Niyigena)

The Government this afternoon signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Zipline Inc, an American robotics company specialising in remotely piloted aircrafts, popularly referred to as ‘drones’.

The agreement, signed by the Ministry of Youth and ICT and the Ministry of Health on behalf of Government, aims at building an infrastructure for unmanned aerial system to ensure efficient logistical transportation of medical supplies in Rwanda.

A quick win is expected from the delivery of essential medical products especially blood supplies in all hospitals across the country, according to officials. 

This makes Rwanda the first country across the world to use drone technology for supply of medical supplies.

Speaking after the deal signing Minster for Youth and ICT Jean-Philbert Nsengimana said that using cutting edge technology would allow supply chains operate independently presenting a huge opportunity in the country.

He noted that this was one of the first initiatives that the government had put in place in line with the Smart Rwanda Master Plan that was approved by cabinet last year.

This is the second international firm to express interest to invest in the technology in the country.

Last year, Norman Foster, a renowned the British architect, expressed interest by his firm, Foster + Partners, alongside business partners to build a drone port in the country.

In their proposal, the investors noted that beginning this year they intend to begin construction of three drone ports which will take about four years to complete.

To facilitate the planned development, the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority also embarked on the process of drafting regulations that will soon be submitted to cabinet for approval and to be made operational this year.

The authority found it important to have the framework in place to guide further developments in the technology which is fast becoming popular as well as other progress such as port construction.