Rwanda’s groundbreaking innovation of using drones to deliver emergency medical supplies, has received international recognition.
It was this week awarded the 2017 Index Award at a ceremony held in the Danish capital Copenhagen. It took top honours in a crowded field of 14 finalists. The award is sometimes referred to as the Nobel Prize for design.
When the idea of using drones for medical purposes was first mooted, there was a lot of disbelief. There were many doubting Thomases on its feasibility and cost. But this joint venture between the government of Rwanda and Zipline is already making other countries take notice.
Many have expressed willingness to follow suit; to deliver medical supplies to the most remote parts of their countries. The latest to announce intentions to get on board is Tanzania.
At the ongoing TED Global conference taking place in Tanzania where innovators are discussing new technologies that could revolutionise healthcare for the poor, Dar said it would also emulate Rwanda in using drones.
Many countries are discouraged even before they take the first step; they fear to take the plunge into the unknown. But there is no way one can know his or her limitations without first trying. That is what president Kagame calls “thinking big”.
We have shown other countries that the drone technology is possible, affordable and opens more opportunities in the future. We would still be losing patients in remote areas if we had not taken the leap of faith.
There is no doubt that in the next few years, African airspace will be crowded with all kinds of delivery drones, and that is thanks to thinking big by one country that opened their eyes.