Nearly five years ago, a public-private partnership was born that will forever impact the transportation of goods through the sky. Drones, a term used to define the small or large aircraft zipping above our heads without a pilot onboard, were seen at best as nuisances and at worst as threats to privacy or physical harm. One government stood apart from the rest in its willingness to put the benefits of society ahead of uncertain risk. The Rwandan Government saw the potential of this new technology and collaborated with a new company, Zipline International. Together, this public-private partnership sought to deliver blood, medicines, and vaccines on-demand to ensure that where a person lives would not determine if they live. The partnership would go on to redefine how drones were seen across the globe, accomplishing more in the past five years than any other aviation organisation in the world by improving the capability, impact, and reliability of the broader system of health logistics. Only two countries in the world can boast meaningful, at-scale drone delivery systems supporting medical and consumer services and it all started in Rwanda. Rwanda, and now Ghana, both working with Zipline, have continued to invest in the on-demand nature presented by drone delivery with impressive results; both seeing the benefit to their population. Zipline Zips, the name for the drones, are today able to deliver roughly 4 lbs (1.80kg) payloads in under an hour, to anywhere in a 20,000 square kilometer area surrounding any distribution center, leveraging ultra-cold chain technology with a drop site of roughly two standard parking spaces. Every day, about 150 deliveries per distribution center, equalling half a ton of freight daily. To put that in context, over the past 5 years, this partnership has led to the delivery of millions of units of blood, medical products, and vaccines and directly saved countless lives. While drones will never replace the need for new roads and bridges, they present a unique opportunity to connect disconnected communities with on-demand goods. This has proven to reduce stock-outs, wastage, and over-ordering by health workers, leading to immense savings in medical goods and rapid reduction in the strain on the broader system. All of this began because the Rwandan government and Zipline collaborated to overcome an outdated and rigid approach to aviation that did not support the inclusion of new forms of innovative aviation. This partnership focused entirely on benefit vs risk; to iterate through test phases, to share data that would support next steps, and to cultivate an unparalleled culture of safety now attempting to be mirrored the world over. Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, the regulatory organ of the aviation industry in Rwanda, in 2016 developed UAS regulations due to the emergence of the UAS technology globally, the cheap availability of the drones on the market, interest from various local institutions to use the technologies and a desire not to be caught off guard by new challenges arising from these technologies. Unfortunately, there were really no models that would work to support the types of flights necessary to save lives, so working with Zipline and international organisations like the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the World Economic Forum (WEF), Rwanda charted its own path forward. At the same time, there weren’t any precedents for what Zipline, or the government were trying to accomplish. At the time, the focus was making the flights as close to ‘manned operation’ as possible. As many do, the RCAA started with the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Panel manual. Eventually, we all came together to develop a platform that would answer the question, ‘What is an operation that would serve the need while ensuring we have a good sense of what the risks are and how to mitigate them?” What they had created, in reality, was a completely new approach to developing a safe, scaled, drone operation. Now the world looks to Rwanda and Zipline to share their success on the global stage. Already, the Rwanda has been asked to Chair industry leading safety efforts, to highlight the path forward at ICAO and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) events, and to drive what’s needed for governance and oversight in a more dynamic, flexible, data driven, and more effective way. Meanwhile, Zipline has been asked to Chair the latest FAA Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Aviation Rulemaking effort in the United States, which focuses on security, safety, and society while also leading UAS humanitarian efforts at the Flight Safety Foundation. As the World struggles to rebuild and redefine the future after a global pandemic, it will be those nations that embrace and invest in new forms of governance that meet the rapidly evolving needs of today that move the furthest the fastest. By following the Rwandan lead, by adopting harmonised approaches to drone regulation proven through 5 years of at-scale operations, other nations are just beginning to realise a more just, just-in-time delivery network that saves lives. The writer is head of Africa Regulatory Affairs at Zipline The views expressed in this article are of the writer.