On the Tazanian island Juma, located in Lake Victoria, locals gathered around to witness the first ever drone flight within the area. There were also numerous organization representatives from the World Bank, World Food Program, and UNICEF. The flight was a part of the Lake Victoria Challenge that aims to make commercial drone flights within East Africa a normal occurrence. This program aims to provide goods and services to areas like Juma, which have been significantly cut off from the mainland and it’s resources.
The drone flight was granted permission by the Tanzanian civil aviation authority which allowed the operation to take place in close proximity to the airport. This way, they could ensure that the region is drone friendly while at the same time keeping the airspace safe. The TCAA have created a framework where all potential drone pilots can easily apply for their license. Next, drone groups or individual can be vetted by the Tanzanian authority and the intelligence services in order to get approved to fly.
According to the chair of the Open Street Map Programe, Ivan Gayton, this operation in Juma is similar to the rise of the computer age. Locals have never seen such advanced technology, much like they had never seen computers in the past. He feels that to ensure the success story of the drone industry in Africa, it should be manned and run by the Africans. For this reason, they developed a drone made from bamboo. This is to make the locals see that they can do incredible things with their present local materials and limited resources.
According to one African drone expert, Freddy Mbuya, the drone industry should go beyond the donor sector in a way it can be profitable to the Africans. This groundwork has already been mapped in Zanzibar. The main issue facing drones is the amounts of goods they can carry which is no more than 2kgs of weight. According to Jonathan Ledgard, a former African correspondent for the Economists, he anticipates that drones in the next few years will have the ability to increase their load capabilities of up to 9 kgs.