Zipline to triple Rwanda drone delivery to nationwide coverage

Zipline Rwanda drone deliveries

Instant logistics and drone delivery specialist Zipline has announced a vast expansion of its operation across Rwanda – the country in which it launched an activity that has since spread across Africa and around the world.

Under Zipline’s new $61 million partnership with Rwanda’s government, its drone network founded in 2016 focused specifically on delivering blood supplies will be tripled in volume, and extended to cover the entire nation. Objectives in the effort seek to reach 11 million people by making 2 million on-demand UAV drop-offs by 2029, using autonomous flights expected to rack up 200 million airborne kilometers. 

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As a sign of how vast Rwandan officials believe the potential economic and social benefits of expanded drone deliveries will be, they’re making the service available to all government entities – including those overseeing finance, tourism, and e-commerce. At the same time, Zipline will continue overseeing its on-demand, automated transportation of a wide range of medical supplies ­­­– only now within what’s being touted as world’s first UAV nationwide delivery network.

“With this new agreement, we will be incorporating Zipline into many aspects of our national operations, from providing a reliable healthcare supply chain, to addressing malnutrition, to creating an unforgettable eco-tourism experience,” said Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board. “Rwanda is an innovation hub and we’re thrilled to be the first country in the world to launch a national drone delivery service.” 

Reflecting the roots of its work in Rwanda, Zipline drones now deliver 75% of the country’s blood supply outside of the capital, Kigali, provisioning 400 hospitals and clinics with rapid, on-demand service. Recent research by the University of Pennsylvania identified that activity as responsible for an 88% reduction in Rwandan hospital maternal deaths due to postpartum hemorrhaging. 

Since its 2019 start, the company has branched out into supplying other medical products around Rwanda, and initiated and grown new aerial networks across Africain the US, and Japan. While healthcare has always remained a main focus of its activity, Zipline has also gotten involved in rapidly expanding commercial drone deliveries with Walmart in the US, and with Africa’s e-commerce giant Jumia.

With the expanded drone delivery operation soon also available to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Rwanda Development Board, Rwanda Medical Supply, National Child Development Agency, and many economic and business agencies, Zipline officials believe their success supporting improved healthcare services will be shared with other aspects of the nation’s life.

“Instant logistics has saved thousands of lives and is solving some of the world’s most important problems – hunger and malnutrition, road congestion and environmental pollution, and lack of access to healthcare,” said Daniel Marfo, senior vice president and head of Zipline’s Africa business and operations. “We are honored to expand our relationship with our first customer to support additional sectors of government and create more impact together.” 

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Worldwide, Zipline says its drones take off about every two minutes, and have delivered 450,000 packages, over 4.5 million products, and flown more than 30 million autonomous miles.

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