11 May 2018

Rwanda, U.S. Firm Sign Deal to Advance Drone Technology

Photo: New Times
The Executive Director of Smart Africa Secretariat, Dr Hamadoun Toure (left), and Eric White, the Lead for the World Economic Forum’s Internet for All project, during the signing of a deal between the two parties.

Rwanda has signed an agreement with an American firm, Swift-x Inc, to further build capacity and explore uses of drone technology in Rwanda. The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the Transform Africa 2018 Summit which concluded Wednesday.

The agreement, among other aspects, lines up areas of cooperation between the Government and the firm for further advancements and development in drone technology to have socio-economic impact.

The Rwandan Minister for ICT, Jean de Dieu Rurangirwa, said from the cooperation they look forward to increasing adoption of the technology in Rwanda.

"We are expanding operations in the sector. We want to promote the adoption and use of the (drone) technology. This partnership will include training in the aspect as well as exploring real life use and adoption of drone technology in multiple aspects of the economy such as agriculture and health," the minister said.

At the summit, Rwanda also signed an agreement with Japanese institutions, to promote Space Inclusion in Africa through the use of space and geospatial technology.

The agreement, signed by Rwandan Utilities Regulatory Agency on behalf of government, Space Edge Lab and Laboratories of the University of Tokyo, seeks collaboration in the field of spacecraft engineering and associated fields of information and communication technology to promote the Space Inclusion initiative.

The Director General of RURA, Patrick Nyirishema, said that, among other things, the agreement will create avenues of training for local engineers in capacities that could be incorporated in aspects such as data analytics.

During the summit, the Smart Africa secretariat signed a partnership agreement with the World Economic Forum for the implementation of the Internet for all programme meant to scale internet access across the continent.

Inmarsat, a global provider of global mobile satellite communications also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Smart Africa secretariat to accelerate the development and implementation of public-private partnerships (PPP) with the Smart Africa Alliance.

The MoU provides a framework of cooperation for all future negotiations for smart cities projects in the continent, and the Consortium members bring a significant amount of experience to the PPP meaning that they are uniquely positioned to drive the initiative forward.

Smart Africa also signed a pact with World Start Festival, a global entrepreneurship platform, to develop over 100 digital entrepreneurs in the next five years. This partnership will see entrepreneurship activities such as boot camps and summits hosted to elevate young entrepreneurs.

At the summit, two African nations, Ghana and Zambia joined the Smart Africa initiative bringing the number of member countries to 24 covering a population of over 600 million citizens.

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Smart Africa announced that Transform Africa Summit 2019 will be held in May next year.

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