RE: “World’s first drones for medical supplies launch in Rwanda today” (The New Times, October 14).
Congratulations to the Government of Rwanda, Zipline and other partners for making this become a reality. As a proof of concept, this is undoubtedly an exciting project. However, I wish to try to be objective and not get stuck on marveling this on why such projects are good for Rwanda.
Rwanda cannot do business as usual but like anyone with ambitious dreams has to be willing to take risks. Rwanda would do well to be on the forefront of testing new technologies/innovations to achieve its ambitious goals.
Obviously, there will be painful mistakes on the way and, consequently, valuable lessons learned, but the immense benefits outweigh this risk. Rwanda will do well to position herself as a test bed of innovations for Africa/developing countries.
Zipline was unable to test this concept in the US due to their own laws and due to this test, US has woken up to look at this project beyond its own bureaucracy.Looking at our weak research institutions, it will take ages to bring our research infrastructure to match the more advanced countries like Kenya, South Africa, etc.
Test bed/proof of concept projects are a good way to go to stimulate local markets/institutions to adopt new technologies.
Benefits to this include:
1. A drone policy was developed and approved in record time (I believe in about one year).
2. It will stimulate the local market to adopt the new technologies and, who knows, might result in the creation of a drone centre of excellence in Africa.
3. Imagine Rwandan children growing up near these droneports, reading about them In America, the space project had an effect on a generation that was inspired to dream big, think big, and spawned new innovations out of such an ambitious project.
However, Rwanda needs to put in place a system to ensure that such proofs of concepts are properly analysed and give Rwanda more benefits than losses.
To the whole team, I wish you success in this endeavour.