Rwanda: Rwandan President Paul Kagame, this week, has launched what is considered world’s first national drone delivery service during a ceremony in the country’s centrally located Muhanga District.
The Rwandan government will begin using drones to make up to 150 on-demand, emergency deliveries per day of life-saving blood to 21 transfusing facilities in the western half of the country.
The drones and delivery service are built and operated by Zipline, a California-based robotics company.
While Rwanda’s drone delivery service will initially focus on blood, an international partnership between UPS, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and Zipline will help the country quickly expand the types of medicines and lifesaving vaccines that can be delivered.
“Drones are very useful, both commercially and for improving services in the health sector. We are happy to be launching this innovative technology and to continue working with partners to develop it further,” said Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
The commercial partnership between Rwanda and Zipline is expected to save thousands of lives over the next three years. Through this effort, Rwanda is using the technology to leapfrog the absence of road infrastructure and to provide healthcare access to all its 11 million citizens.
The work in Rwanda is being further supported by an international partnership between Zipline, UPS and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Thanks to a $1.1 million (USD) grant from the UPS Foundation, the partnership will study Rwanda’s blood drone delivery operation with an eye towards helping the country quickly expanding the types of medicines and lifesaving vaccines that can be delivered.