When SA held its first dedicated conference on drones in Ekurhuleni last year, the delegates attending it heard that though the country had been the first to fly medical drones, it had fallen behind, and other African countries had taken up the challenge. One of these was Rwanda. In October its president, Paul Kagame, oversaw the launch of a system to deliver blood plasma, medical samples, medicine and surgical supplies to hospitals and clinics by drone, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It was a world first. Then, in December, trials were announced in Tanzania for this year. The Rwandan system envisages a network of drone ports to and from which UAVs will fly regular geofenced routes (using smartphone messaging technology) delivering their lightweight yet valuable cargo. It is a collaboration between California-based drone start-up Zipline and US package-delivery firm United Parcel Service (UPS). Zipline is backed by venture capital from the likes of Google Ventures and Microsoft...

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