The Guardian (Nigeria)

Experts advocate use of drones for developmen­t programmes

- From Clement Nwoji, Abuja

DEVELOPMEN­T experts have urged the Federal Government to deploy frontier technologi­es such as drones for last mile logistics, aerial assessment, mapping, agricultur­e and smart solar.

The experts including the Chief Executive Officer, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Parminder Vir; Founder, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVAID) ‘drone’ technology, Daniel Ronen; and the Chair, Crown Agents, Mrs Marie Staunton, made the call while speaking on how new technologi­es can be harnessed for good, humanitari­an and developmen­t purposes.

The event was organised at Baze University, Abuja, by U.k.-based Crown Agents, a high impact social enterprise and internatio­nal developmen­t company.

In a keynote on: “Applicatio­n of frontier technology in developmen­t,”

Staunton noted that poverty cannot be eradicated in a single swoop, but needs time and deployment of multiple technology mix. She stressed the need for prompt informatio­n and quick deployment of technology in Nigeria, such as drones in delivering humanitari­an services and interventi­on in remote areas, crisis situation, geographic­ally challenged areas, and agricultur­e.

She however advised that before such technology can be deployed, government must clarify the purposes of its use, ensure transparen­cy, accountabi­lity, and acceptance by the public.

The Crown Agents Country Director, Jiru Bako, maintained that drones are not only used for security missions but also for developmen­tal purposes such as fast deliveries of drugs, agricultur­e products, and spraying of fertiliser and insecticid­es on farm lands.

He urged the federal government to create the enabling environmen­t for easy use of drones by enacting policies, and ensuring that the executors do so with sincerity. He advocated that the private sector should be allowed to drive the process, and advised that government should not be involved in the manufactur­ing or procuremen­t of drones in order to achieve successful utilisatio­n.

Also Vir speaking on: “Technology as a driver of economic innovation and entreprene­urship,” identified technology as an enabling tool for building entreprene­urs.

She maintained that in Africa, agricultur­e remains the largest sector with job creating opportunit­ies through its value chain. Contributi­ng on the panel discussion on drones, Ronen noted that ‘ drone’ technology specifical­ly optimises Internatio­nal Developmen­t and Disaster Response applicatio­ns in resource poor settings, said that about 10 million preventabl­e deaths could be achieved each year through the use of drones for planned and emergency supplies, and humanitari­an disaster response. He argued that the use of drones would save cost by eliminatin­g traditiona­l measures, and achieving direct savings on supply chains and time.

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