Background

The shores and islands of Lake Victoria are home to over 30 million people – the most densely populated rural area in the world. Due to rugged terrain, remote islands, and limited road networks of this area, vital health supplies and other urgent goods often face significant challenges in reaching their destination. Enabling cargo drones as a new mobility and delivery paradigm has tremendous potential to overcome such challenges - alleviating supply chain burdens and enhancing quicker delivery of services to the citizenry.

East Africa has emerged as a first mover for innovative Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs) technologies – commonly known as drones. Cargo drones offer the potential to leapfrog transport infrastructure developments by transporting goods autonomously through the air and connecting hard-to-reach communities and facilities, especially in the remote rural areas.

Innovative technology companies have invested in trialing new services in East Africa including blood delivery to hospitals in Rwanda, medical supplies to hard-to-reach facilities in Mwanza and direct to home eCommerce delivery in Arusha. In Malawi, a humanitarian drone testing corridor has been established by the government for facilitating the demonstration and assessment of new technologies.

Tanzania is ranked third in Africa in the Drone Readiness Index as a result of its early head start with pilot projects and potential industry and market development. The city of Mwanza is the geographic center of such activity and aims to become a hub for supply chain innovation.


Concept

The Lake Victoria Cargo Drone Expo & Challenge (LVC) will be the first of its kind event in Africa. It will showcase advances in unmanned aerial technologies that can make a significant difference in hard-to-reach communities and rural areas. The event will include a technology challenge component designed by African experts for local use cases.

By bringing African thought leaders and global teams to Lake Victoria to compete on real-world problems, the event aims to catalyse industrial policy and innovation strategy, and connect international investment with local innovation. The experience will also inform the industrialization agenda and vision 2025 of Tanzania.


Objectives

LVC is a pilot event for what may become a regular convening of the state-of-the- art technologies for autonomous delivery in Africa. The event will bring the cutting edge of drone technologies to Mwanza, in Lake Victoria, in order to:

 

Knowledge and learning

Inform and inspire African policy makers on emerging technologies

Supply chain modernization

Test the possibilities of connecting hard to reach communities with new services and business models.

Innovation and investment

Promote Mwanza as the hub for technology firms and investors (a) in developing this new industry sector, and (b) supporting old industry to modernize


Format

The event will take place in October 2018 over three days and include three components:

Conference

Health, technology, and transport experts from Africa and the rest of the world will come together to discuss the transformative opportunities for Lake Victoria region as well as for Africa in general.

expo

A platform for the drone industry, including global logistics experts, startups, drone pilots, engineers and media, to showcase their innovations and state-of-art in technology for cargo drone deliveries and outline where it is going.

competition

Adronechallenge–inspiredbysimilartechnologychallengesfrom solar cars to rocket industry – to surface emerging technologies for deployment in supply chain strengthening projects. The teams will abide by rules and regulations prescribed by the Tanzanian Civil Aviation and Military authorities to perform an assortment of tasks, including: vertical takeoff and landing, avoiding a designated no-fly zone, and satisfactory pickup and delivery of a medical parcel.


Partnerships

The LVC will forge partnerships between the international robotics and drone industries, health and transport experts, and country projects using UAV technologies. The event will document and highlight the best results from projects focussed on emerging markets.

The World Bank will support the Mwanza Regional Authority and the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology to design and organize the event in collaboration with development partners, robotics industry and labs, health care and logistics experts, and regulatory and air safety experts.