Kaduna State, Nigeria, gets the Zip codes

Kaduna City, NIGERIA – The Zips are flying into Nigeria.

Well; at least only in country’s north western state of Kaduna for now; yesterday the Kaduna State government announced that it will be partnering with American medical drone logistics company Zipline to build a drone delivery network that the government hopes will help transform accessibility and availability of medical supplies for the over eight million people in the state.

As they have been doing in Rwanda and Ghana for the past five years, the drones will make on-demand deliveries of an assortment of vaccines, blood products and other life-saving medications.

“The agreement with Zipline builds on and adds value to our initiatives to strengthen the capacity of the Kaduna State health system,” said Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai at the ceremony to announce the partnership. “This new emergency drone delivery service is a great solution to deliver vaccines, blood and other lifesaving products instantly when time is of essence. It will help ensure that millions of people in Kaduna State will always get the care they need.”

The announcement of the addition of Kaduna State to the growing list of Zipline’s sphere of influence comes at the time when the company is celebrating its one millionth vaccine delivery.

A statement released by the governor’s office said the service will operate at all hours of every day, from three distribution centres — each initially equipped with 30 drones — making deliveries to more than 1,000 health facilities across the state. The distribution centres will be capable of delivering approximately six tons of medical products each week over more than 60,000 square kilometres.

Delivering medicine has been a long-standing challenge in most parts of the developing world, most due to harsh climatic and topographical conditions, or dilapidated infrastructure – either the roads are too poor to navigate or do not exist at all, or the transport is not there. In Rwanda, where Zipline made their name, the country is made of mostly hill and valley, and it used to take hours for the government to deliver medicine to areas that now only take 30 minutes with a drone.

Hello 1 million. Picture Credit: Zipline

“Where you live shouldn’t determine whether or not you have access to the medicine you need,” said Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo. “That’s why I’m so proud of our partnership with Kaduna State. Our work together will help transform the quality of care for millions and help make Nigeria a world leader in using technology to expand universal healthcare access.”

The delivery process will be like everywhere else Zipline operates – health workers will make their orders through a text message, a phone call or via the website; and their order will trigger a raft of hyperactive chain reactions from the operators at Zipline, which will result in the delivery of the ordered product in about 30 minutes.

Each of the three planned Zipline distribution centres in Kaduna State will cover a delivery area of just over 20,000 square kilometres, to ensure timely delivery.

Scheduled to commence “in the second quarter of 2021”, the new drone service will also deliver vaccines for COVID-19 once they become available in the state, courtesy of the cold chain distribution capability that Zipline recently built, which will allow the company to safely deliver the vaccines at the required ultra-low temperatures.

The government says goal is to put almost all its citizens within minutes of lifesaving medical delivery by drone.

“In the first phase of operations, a distribution centre located in Barwa, Kauru Local Government Area, will be established to serve health facilities there beginning in the third quarter of 2021. Over the next year, additional distribution centres are planned in Rafingyeda in Birnin Gwari LGA and Kachia in Kachia LGA.”

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