An agreement between Rwanda’s government and an American firm which seeks to introduce remotely piloted aircrafts which are more commonly known as drones, is set to improve the country’s medical services delivery. The agreement was signed between the Ministries of Youth and ICT as well as Health on Rwanda’s governments side and Zipline on the American side, which is basically a robotics company.
The introduced drones will supply essential medical products to the remotest parts of the country which are difficult to access by road. The memorandum of understanding was signed yesterday, the 10th of February and divulges that Zipline will begin setting up its first drone port, which is where the drones land. The project is expected to take off in Muhanga District by May and tests will begin in August.
Muhanga was chosen as the location for this laudable project partly due to its centrality to all parts of the nation, making for easier navigation to any needed area. Keller Rinuado, the chief executive of Zipline said after the signing, that the drones will help in significantly impacting the heavy costs incurred in the delivery of medical supplies and services, with the added advantage of improved accessibility to the remotest parts. He likewise enthused that the Rwandan government’s commitment to the use of technology in the country’s development helped facilitate his firm’s entry into the country. He also said the project’s success will make Rwanda a pioneer in the area, on that note he particularly said; “It will be the first time ever that these vehicles are integrated into an existing health supply chain”.
The Rwanda Civil Aviation authority (RCAA) has already progressed in the process of drafting specific regulations for this particular innovation, it has found it important to have the framework in place to guide further development in the technology. The regulations are to be submitted to Cabinet for approval and should be made operational in 2016. The overall aim is to make sure that the technology’s uptake is safe, secure and efficient. The authority reveals that the regulation drafting process involves consultations with stakeholders in the aviation industry and is also guided by international civil aviation guidelines.
Commenting on the development, the Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, said the introduction of the technology was in line with the Smart Rwanda Master Plan adopted by Cabinet last year. A few drones are already functional in the country but most are used for aerial view photography projects at public events and open spaces.