Rwanda showcases drone technology at WEF 2018

By The News Times

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Rwanda, on the first day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2018 yesterday, showcased its advancements in drone technology.

The forum, underway in Davos, Switzerland, is running under the theme, “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.”

The 48th WEF will feature 400 sessions focusing on major economic and geopolitical issues around the world.

The international summit convenes world leaders from political, business, international organisations and civil society backgrounds among others.

On the first day of the forum, Rwanda’s drone technology advancements featured prominently being the first country to adopt performance based drone regulation.

To achieve the feat, the government partnered with the World Economic Forum to co-design policy frameworks that could increase the country’s competitiveness in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Speaking at the forum, Rwanda’s Minster for ICT Jean de Dieu Rurangirwa, said that Rwanda is aiming at nurturing the drone industry and put in place infrastructure and policy framework to accelerate its adoption.

“Building on the success of Zipline’s blood delivery technology, we are working to nurture a drone industry. As we look to the future, we will continue to put in place the infrastructure and policy frameworks that accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies to transform people’s lives,” he said.

A performance-based approach allows both regulators and operators to respond to technical challenges, including ensuring the safety of the public.

This opens up the airspace to more operators and applications, thereby spurring business development and social impact.

“The enhancement of our drone regulation framework, developed in consultation with the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is a major step in creating an enabling environment for the development and deployment of drone technology. We are also establishing capacity-building programmes to invest in local talent and leverage public-private partnerships to lay the groundwork for the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said the minister.

Murat Sonmez, Head of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, said that Rwanda’s leadership in co-designing policy frameworks around drone use could be a model for other countries that want to accelerate adoption of the technology.

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A Zipline employee at its distribution centre in Muhanga tests a drone carrying blood before launching it in the sky. File.

“Rwanda is one of the first countries to partner with the Forum in this space. The Government of Rwanda’s leadership in co-designing agile policy frameworks around the use of drones, could be a model for other countries that want to accelerate adoption of this game-changing technology,” he added.

President Paul Kagame is leading Rwanda’s delegation at the forum.

The Rwandan delegation includes ministers Louise Mushikiwabo (Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East African Community affairs), Claver Gatete (Finance), Jean de Dieu Rurangirwa (Information, Technology and Communication) and Dr Vincent Biruta (Environment), as well as Francis Gatare, the chief executive of Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board; and Clare Akamanzi, the chief executive, Rwanda Development Board.

Speaking to The New Times from Davos, Gatete said that the President’s itinerary includes meeting world leaders.

“We are holding meetings with investors while at the same time attending various conferences. In the process, we are showcasing development in Rwanda,” he said.

On the sidelines of the opening session, President Kagame met South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Norwegian Prime Minister Elna Solberg.

Organisers say panel discussions will tackle such issues as “skilling up for the fourth industrial revolution” and “navigating a multipolar and multiconceptual world.”