Rwanda hosts Africa’s first drone flying competition next month

Dubbed Lake Kivu Challenge, the competition – due February 8-16 in Karongi District in Western Province – seeks to showcase latest drone revolution and trends.

It will focus on electric drone technology with vertical landing or short landing capability that are low cost and capable of high frequency flights, according to organisers.

The event will be held on the sidelines of Africa Drone Forum 2020.  

The competition, according to organisers, will be the first of its kind to be held Africa and is expected to help bridge the gap between available technology, the African use cases and the safety aspects of implementing high frequency services that can make a difference in isolated communities in the region.

“The Lake Kivu Challenge (LKC) flying competition will attract global drone teams to compete on real-world problems in three categories, which are laboratory sample pick-up, and emergency package delivery, and find, assess through rural asset mapping,” a statement issued by the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority reads in part.

From the competition, experts will select the best-suited electric vertical take-off and landing (e-VTOL) drone services fit for the long-range use cases defined in Africa.

“The winning drone teams will be awarded close to $400,000 in cash in addition to the potential of receiving pilot contracts with various agencies to demonstrate service provision.”

The development, officials say, is designed to push the boundaries of and demonstrate the current state of the art in long range Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) technology for African markets.

The challenge is expected to see several experts that are leading the way in drone technology help open and test the minds of engineers, regulators, entrepreneurs and investors.

This would promote the skies above Africa as a valuable resource and technologies to help build sustainable infrastructure, according to organisers.

African Drone Forum

Meanwhile, Africa Drone Forum 2020, whose aim is to demonstrate how drones can be used for everything, from cargo delivery to emergency response, kicks off next week.

It will run from February 5-7.

The forum, which will bring together leading figures in drone technology from private sector and airspace regulators to discuss what is possible for the future of drones in Africa, is the outcome of the collaboration between the Government of Rwanda and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In an earlier interview with The New Times, Paula Ingabire, the Minister for ICT and Innovation, stressed the forum will highlight Rwanda’s experience and explore the potential for future applications.

“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”

BVLOS is about air worthiness of any flying object.

This means that drones are capable of flying long distances out of sight and hence can be used to perform more tasks in different fields like maritime and geological surveys, mining, and delivery of commercial products.

Rwanda has, in recent years, been increasingly using drones in improving service delivery, especially in healthcare, agriculture and land surveys.

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Written by Adebola

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