Africa

How drones are transforming Africa

Updated 6:44 AM ET, Fri February 7, 2020
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In Africa, drones are being used to deliver life-saving supplies and serve as eyes in the sky. Moroccan startup ATLAN Space has developed smart drones that can identify and report environmental crimes like illegal fishing, poaching or mining. Sebastian Voortman
Equipped with artificial intelligence, the drones operate autonomously, are able to identify illegal activity, and can transmit information to authorities in real-time. Badr Idrissi
ATLAN Space will implement a pilot project to combat illegal fishing in the Seychelles in October. courtesy of ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
The Seychelles currently uses light aircraft and vessels for surveillance and interception. ATLAN Space plans to help with the monitoring and work alongside the coast guard to curb illegal activity. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
ATLAN Space is one of many startups innovating with drone technology on the continent. In Rwanda, a Silicon Valley startup Zipline is delivering urgent medical supplies to rural areas. Zipline
Zipline drones deliver vaccines and blood for transfusions directly to hospitals and clinics in approximately 30 minutes. zipline
The startup has since extended operations to Tanzania. courtesy zipline
In 2016, British architect Norman Foster designed the world's first "airport for drones" in Rwanda.
Courtesy Foster+Partners
The idea is for these droneports to function as hubs to allow recharging, cargo loading and dropoff, as well as repairs.
Courtesy Foster+Partners
In Malawi, UNICEF ran trials to use drones to deliver HIV tests to remote parts of the country in 2016. AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Last year, UNICEF and the Malawian government set up a drone testing corridor in Lilongwe to investigate how drones can be used for humanitarian work. UNICEF/Malawi/ 2018/ Mscheibenreif
Universities, startups and private sector companies have used drones to map cholera outbreaks and mosquito breeding sites in the corridor. UNICEF/Malawi/ 2017/ Mscheibenreif
Community-based project Ramani Huria uses drones to capture high resolution imagery of previously unmapped areas in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Ramani Huria/Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team
Funded by the World Bank, the project works with teams of local university students and community members to create maps to improve infrastructure and flood resilience. Ramani Huria/Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team
In pockets of Southern Africa, Air Shepherd flies drones at night to track wildlife poachers. MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images
Data from the drones is transmitted for analysis, and drone operators feed this information to local rangers who then intercept the suspects. Air Shepherd
Sudanese agricultural drone startup Massive Dynamics aims to use drones to plant seeds of Acacia trees from the sky to combat desertification. AFP/Getty Images
Across the continent drones are used to help farmers increase their yields and reduce damage to crops. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
In South Africa, drone startup Aerobotics provides bird's eye surveillance for farmers, with the aim of optimizing crop yields and reducing costs.