Ethiopian government signs MOU with private drone tech players

The year is 2013, and Ethiopia has just signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding with drone technology stakeholders in the country, which will enable government and the private sector to work together in exploring opportunities in the drone industry.

Way, way ahead of the curve, Ethiopia is.

Of course, we could not resist; 2013 in Ethiopia is 2021 for the rest of the world (yes, they have their own Ethiopian Standard Time), but having joined the handful of African countries with written down regulations for drone technology last year, the Ethiopian government has indeed just gone one better and proved their willingness for a technology transfer between government and some select private drone industry players to get the drone sector properly off the ground.

The agreement was signed on government’s behalf by the Minister for Innovation and Technology, Dr Yaniya Seidmeki, who promised the ministry’s total support to research into the drone economy; following the ministry’s acknowledgement of the growing demand for commercial drone activity in the country.

“It is clear that there is a growing demand for services in the sector, both at home and abroad,” Dr Seidmeki said. “The government believes that the sector should be used in accordance with the law and practice. Many efforts are being made to do so.”

According to the ministry statement, the agreement also outlines how drone technology should be used for development and social services in the future; the requirements to be met, the role of partners and stakeholders, as well as the requirements that private drone industry players are expected to meet before they can work with the government, consumers, and private technology owners.

Signatories to the MOU – who include Dejen Aviation, the Ethiopian Space and Science Institute and Maisha tech Ethiopia – were delighted for the latest development, lauding the partnership for providing a conducive environment for the creation for government/private cooperation for the greater good of drone technology.

The commercial drone industry in the country has indeed been showing signs of growth, with German medical drone company Wingcopter launching medical deliveries in the country, and India-based TechEagle partnering with Addis Mercato to deliver health care products in Ethiopia’s urban centres.

One of the signatories, Maisha Tech Ethiopia, has been using drones to deliver medicine, test kits, blood samples to and from remote areas in the country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Perhaps the greatest advocate for drone technology in Ethiopia has been the locust plague affecting parts of the country, which has required drone-based solutions from Kenya and Israel to help repel the locusts that have been camped in the country since 2019.

Besides, drone technology has been gaining traction in applications that include agriculture, mining, construction, GIS, delivery, public safety, security, among many other applications.


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