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The World Bank and World Economic Forum (WEF) has announced that it will partner with Rwanda’s government to host the African Drone Forum and Flying competitions, which will take place in Rwanda in February next year.
WEF said in a statement yesterday (4 September) that Rwanda will host the international drone and unmanned traffic management event with support from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
The event will include include a regulatory summit that brings together leading figures in drone technology from the private sector and airspace regulators to highlight and discuss what is possible for the future of drones in Africa.
Applications for Africa Drone Forum Flying Competitions close on 30 September
WEF head of aerospace and drones Timothy Reuter said the increasing use of drones in Africa will bring about not only benefits to business, agriculture and the health sector, but could “quite literally save lives” by taking deliveries off the roads and into the sky.
“To unleash this potential, new policies need to be put in place that safely open the skies to drones as most African countries do not yet permit the most beneficial applications,” added Reuter.
Riccardo Puliti, the World Bank’s global director for energy and extractive industries and regional director for Africa, said the forum aims to “open and test the minds” of engineers, regulators, entrepreneurs and investors.
“The flying competitions will promote new industries and services, harness data for delivery and resilience, create activity hubs and opportunities to leapfrog technologies, and develop skill sets for 21st century jobs in the region and beyond,” said Puliti.
This, he added, will promote the skies above Africa as a valuable resource and technologies to help build sustainable infrastructure.
WEF said Rwanda was selected as host for the event because it is currently one of the only countries that has policies in place that allow for the types of applications being demonstrated in the competition.
Rwanda’s ground-breaking use of medical delivery drones, WEF added, supported by an open regulatory approach –developed with support from the organisation — has shown exactly what a “forward-thinking government” can accomplish.
‘Opportunity for Rwanda to share experience’
Rwanda Minister of ICT and Innovation Paula Ingabire said the country is “excited” to host the Africa Drone Forum, which she said is a platform that will bring together policy makers, drones enthusiasts, experts and industry leaders to explore potential use case applications for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology in Africa.
“It’s an opportunity for Rwanda to share our experience in pioneering the use of Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) UAV operations, and our development of drone regulations,” added Ingabire.
The flying competition will see global experts invite companies that are leading the way in drone technology to compete.
During the challenge, WEF will curate discussions with regulators throughout Africa on how to create policies that enable the safe deployment of drone technologies in their own countries.
This year’s competitions are also supported by the Danish International Development Agency and the Republic of Korea and a number of development partners.
Those looking to join the flying competitions should apply before 30 September.
Each individual flying competition of the Africa Drone Forum will have a specific use case that participants will need to show they can fulfil.
One drone team can apply for several competitions. The competitions involve a three-stage process involving: an initial application, a detailed technical review of the drone platform, and the actual flying competition in February next year.
Featured image: Africa Drone Forum (Twitter)