Zipline, Jumia forge African e-commerce drone delivery partnership

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Global instant logistics specialist Zipline has forged a partnership with Africa’s largest e-commerce retailer, Jumia, to launch an on-demand drone delivery network with ambitions to eventually span the continent.

In making their announcement today, Jumia and Zipline said their looming e-commerce drone delivery operation has already been tested in Ghana, where the partners operated a pilot program over the past month. The new network will combine Zipline’s deep experience in medical deliveries in Africa – and its retail operations with Walmart in the US – with Jumia’s expanding online consumer products business that now covers 11 countries.

Indeed, the link-up of Jumia and Zipline in developing e-commerce drone delivery is one of visionary companies in their respective activities coming together.

ReadForget drones: Zipline says success comes from serving human needs 

Zipline has become famous as the inventor of instant logistics and automated, on-demand drone deliveries by launching and scaling transport of medical supplies across Africa – a critical part in the effort of national governments to provide healthcare to even the most remote communities. 

Jumia, meanwhile, continues leading the way in using digital technologies to drive an on-going consumer revolution in Africa. That process involved the continent’s swiftly growing middle classes hurdling what elsewhere was an early desktop stage of e-commerce activity with myriad brick-and-mortar retailers, and using increasingly affordable smartphones to place orders with large distributors making fast deliveries to various pick-up centers – albeit using ground routes.

Now, Jumia’s order processing and delivery activity is set to accelerate with Zipline drones providing faster transport service between the e-commerce giant’s over 30 warehouses and more than 3,000 currently designated drop-off centers close to individual consumers. That network is promising to speed orders to customers within 45 minutes, and will reach both urban destinations and farther-flung locales.

“Using the latest instant logistics technology will allow Jumia to offer our consumers on-demand delivery of the products they need – instantly,” said Jumia executive vice president Apoorva Kumar. “Whether they’re ordering electronics, fashion, health, and beauty, or other categories, Zipline’s instant logistics system will provide fast and convenient access. This will support Jumia’s commitment to sustainability and innovation and provide much-needed access to rural and remote areas where conventional delivery services have challenges.”

Read: Zipline expands medical drone deliveries to the Ivory Coast 

The project’s viability – and potential for e-commerce drone delivery across the entire continent – was demonstrated in the pilot Zipline operated in Jumia’s Ghana trial.

The dry run tested multiple use cases and product categories, racking up a total of 2,500 km of flight. Deliveries to outlying Jumia hubs at distances up to 85 km were made in less than an hour, during which real time visibility of order progress was available to all stakeholders.

Plans currently look for a launch in Ghana to be expanded to Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria, with additional markets to follow – often leveraging Zipline’s existing medical and agricultural drone delivery activity in nations like Kenya and Rwanda.

“Zipline is pleased to partner with Jumia to use instant logistics to improve the lives of customers across Africa,” said Zipline Africa senior vice president Daniel Marfo. “This collaboration will increase access to goods for customers and help small and medium sized businesses grow. Zipline’s safe and efficient instant logistics system will make shopping on Jumia even more convenient, sustainable, and accessible for its customers.”

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