Rwanda has launched the world’s first national drone delivery system, which will be used to deliver blood to patients in remote areas of the country.
Zipline, the company supplying the drones, has overcome technicalities such as battery life and temperature sensitive shipment to build 15 custom made drones, known as “Zips”, for the vital lifesaving initiative.
This developmental move is a pivotal movement for Rwanda because building medical facilities are expensive and time consuming, as you would imagine.
According to The Verge, medical personnel can order blood via text and receive it in 30 minutes by parachutes from the drones. The drones are 13kg of battery-powered mini planes that can carry three bags of blood over a 150 km distance.
It is expected that they will be able to complete 150 deliveries per day, ensuring the doctors have adequate blood to conduct their jobs.
“Technology becomes relevant and meaningful when it works for people and addresses challenges they face“, stated Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.
The challenges that President Kagame speaks of are the poor infrastructure that Rwanda, like many African countries, struggles with and the high maternal mortality rate.
Blood loss during childbirth is a major reason as to why blood is needed in its remote areas.
According to the World Health Organization, the annual number of maternal deaths in Rwanda in 2013 was at 1,300. With an estimated population of 11 million, the East African nation witnesses only 324,000 successful births per year.
Rwanda is sounding a wakeup call to other African countries as it continues to pioneer technological development on the continent.
In 2011, it became the first country to install fibre optic network across the country; and earlier this year, it became the first African country to have nation-wide 4G LTE coverage.
Having risen from a devastating genocide in 1994 that killed 800,000 people, today, Rwanda has more women in parliament than men and is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.