One of the fastest-growing industries on the African continent has to do with drone technology, sometimes referred to as the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) sector. The continent has seen a rise in the use of drone technology since 2016, with commercial and non – commercial applications of UAVs being found across the continent. In many regions outside Africa, UAVs are mostly used for military applications but this is not the case in Africa. Drone technology is mostly being used to execute Africa’s humanitarian goals, and further some of the development goals that have been set across the continent.
By Kudzai Joshua Zawe
Drone Technology in Africa
UAVs are being used in most of the leading economic industries on the African continent. Tourism and animal conservation are some of the biggest attractions on the continent. The Covid – 19 pandemic has affected the tourism industry with different players on the continent losing combined revenue of between $170 – $253 billion per year. The world has become better at dealing with the pandemic and the African tourism industry is starting to see an increase in traffic. UAVs are playing a significant role in the efforts to protect animals in game parks from poaching and in creating strategies for the further development of these places. Air Shepherd is one such organization and they are currently employing UAVs in the fight against poaching in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Malawi.
Charis Unmanned Aerial Solutions (Rwanda)
Charis UAS, founded in 2014, is a Rwandan drone technology service that has its hands in several industries. The startup received an undisclosed investment from Australian drone company, X2M Earth, in 2021. This funding was for the purposes of the continual expansion of drone technology solutions that have been built by Charis. Through the provision of aerial imagery and data analysis, Charis UAS provides its clients with an opportunity to make well-informed and intelligent decisions while optimizing the operations of the business.
UAV technology is used by Charis UAS to provide high-quality aerial videography and photography, tracking of construction projects, mapping of land for topographical surveys, site inspections across various industries, and the management of mining activities for lower risk and planning of key activities. Another sector that benefits significantly from the application of drone technology in the agricultural sector. UAVs are used for crop mapping, and for the optimal application of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
Through the use of this technology, Charis UAS provides its clients with a quicker method of data capturing with high-quality results. They also reduce the human risk involved in these endeavors while also reducing the costs involved. The solutions provided by startups such as Charis UAS are of great importance in the context of Africa as they are key to the economic growth that is expected in the next few decades. Key economic sectors such as mining, agriculture, tourism, and construction rely heavily on the information that can be provided by startups such as Charis UAS.
A Key Role For UAV Startups
An analysis of a startup such as Charis UAS reveals the key role that drone technology has to play in the building of Africa’s future. Several businesses need to integrate UAVs into their work if they are to reach their goals at a rapid rate. Precision Aerial (Zimbabwe) is a drone startup founded by Tawanda Chihambakwe and it offers businesses drone solutions that can help them optimize their businesses and develop smarter business solutions. They also offer training for Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs) and educational programs for kids of school-going age that are interested in the technology or other related fields in science and technology.
Looking at Precision Aerial as a case study, we can see that outside of the commercial applications, there are other important roles that are being played by UAV-focused startups. There is a lot of untapped potential for these startups and the limitless applications that drone technology can be used to make these startups some of the key building blocks of Africa.