Botswana opens drone assembly and testing centre

Botswana has just taken another step further down the road towards drone self-reliance, with the opening of a drone assembly and testing centre in Palapye, about 272km northeast of the capital, Gaborone.

The new centre has seen the light of day thanks to the collaborative efforts between the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), where the centre is located; and the Mileage Group, a local technology and investment firm.

Specifically, this partnership is between the university and the investment company’s subsidiary, the Drone Technology Centre (DTC); a drone services company that specialises in drone rentals, pilot training, photogrammetry, drone-based media services; aerial surveys, security as well as agriculture services.

The start-up also hosts SkyMax, a drone assembly division that offers training in drone building and assembly.

Against this background; because the company offers drone technology training solutions, and BIUST is a higher technology training institution with ground facilities for carrying out tests; the two entities found common ground to work together.

“The SkyMax Drone Assembly & Testing Lab will be a hub for innovation, fostering the local production and testing of the SkyMax drone – Botswana’s very first locally assembled drone,” the DTC said in a statement.

“This state-of-the-art facility signifies a commitment to domestic drone technology and its vast potential applications in agriculture, search and rescue, security, and environmental monitoring. The collaboration between DTC and BUIST demonstrates our dedication to nurturing local talent and fostering a vibrant drone ecosystem within the country.”

The lab reportedly features cutting-edge training equipment and technology to ensure efficient and high-quality drone assembly.

A dedicated testing area will allow for rigorous flight performance evaluation, guaranteeing the reliability and safety of SkyMax drones.

“The establishment of this centre has come at the very right time, and I hold a strong opinion that it will go a long way in igniting a revolution of our economic and industrial pursuits as a nation,” said Slumber Tsogwane, the vice president of Botswana, said at the opening ceremony.

Mr Tsogwane added that the leveraging on latest advancements in drone technology would help Botswana create an ideal environment for raising economic productivity and sustainability in a variety of sectors of the economy, as well as providing opportunities for students and researchers to participate in cutting-edge research and hands-on learning experiences.

Botswana’s health sector has already had a positive experience with drone technology in recent times, with the introduction of the Drones for Health programme – first piloted in Botswana in April 2021 – which aims to reduce from hours to minutes the delivery of essential medical supplies and samples from health-care hubs to remote clinics.

Mr Tsogwane said drone technology was critical to boosting economic development by improving efficiency and enabling real-time, reliable data collection and analysis, and helping people make informed and strategic decisions in such areas as health, transportation, infrastructure development and maintenance, disaster response and emergency services, agriculture, and tourism.

And in their statement, the DTC said essentially the same thing.

“This project is expected to generate numerous benefits for Botswana,” the statement said. 

“It will create skilled jobs in the drone technology sector, contribute to import substitution efforts, and position Botswana as a leader in drone innovation and assembly in Africa. Collaboration with BUIST further strengthens the link between academia and industry, fostering a culture of research and development.”

The DTC also has a home at the campuses of the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which was again opened by the vice in 2021.

Botswana is also the third country in Africa to create testing space for commercial drone applications, after Kenya and Malawi; whose drone corridor is one of the biggest in the world.


Leave a Comment


Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Lost Password