New policies open up the space for unmanned air
By IVAN R. MUGISHA
DRONE OPERATORS in Rwanda are hoping that the Unmanned and Remotely Piloted Aircraft regulations passed in January will attract investors to the sector.
The regulations, which fall under the supervision of the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, did away with restrictions on the use of unmanned aircraft systems for commercial purposes. Individuals were not allowed to fly drones and other unmanned aircraft like free balloons whether for commercial or for recreational purposes.
While there are just a handful of private drone operators in the country presently, it is expected that more companies will venture into the business.
However, the lack of skilled manpower remains a challenge, meaning that interested companies have to rely on external labour or incur costs on training local workers. But the Ministry of ICT said it will partner with international companies to train and provide drone flying certificates to Rwandans.
Charis AUS, a local company that provides drone services including technical inspections of buildings and monitoring of mining sites as well as for social functions, said the policies had opened up the drone space in Rwanda.
“Drones are still new in Rwanda and the region as a whole and people are just getting used to them,” said Charis AUS, technical director” Teddy Segore. “But the laws have opened up the space for business. We have now expanded to Tanzania and Uganda.”
US robotics firm Zipline, which delivers medical supplies and blood to hospitals and clinics in remote areas has been in operation since 2016. The company now delivers blood transfusion products to over 20 health centres in record time.
The Ministry of Health said deliveries that would otherwise take hours now happen in less than 30 minutes.
Zipline receives phone text orders from
A drone monitors an Irish potato crop in a farm in Rwanda’s Northern Province.