The Zipline journey: next stop; Kenya

Kisumu, KENYA – For drone logistics company Zipline, the year 2022 must be the year of expansion.

We have barely caught our breath after news that the medical drone services provider had crossed in Bayelsa State in Nigeria last week; now the company has announced that it will be landing in Kenya for the very first time.

“Zipline and Kisumu County, a member of the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB), have today executed an agreement that will leverage Zipline’s industry leading warehousing facility and autonomous aircraft technology for the storage and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, blood products and other medical commodities to health facilities within the Kisumu County,” the company said in a statement.

“The agreement specifies the establishment and operation of a Zipline distribution hub in Kisumu County that will act as the base of operations for the Zipline uncrewed aerial system (UAS) and the Zipline services capable of serving health projects and facilities across 16 counties in western Kenya.”

Congratulations, Zipline. We did feel that something was in the air when you started inviting applications about all those job openings in Kisumu.

Zipline’s instant logistics service will form part of the government of Kisumu County’s vision of using drone delivery to establish universal, daily access to lifesaving and critical medicines for most of its citizens over the coming years.

In this regard, Zipline does have some experience, what with its ongoing operations in Rwanda, Ghana and Nigeria to boast of, where the company is making on-demand and emergency deliveries of blood products, COVID-19 vaccines, and other life-saving medications. 

​​“We’ve seen how automated, on-demand delivery can transform healthcare systems to make them more efficient, effective and equitable,” said Keller Rinaudo, co-founder and CEO of Zipline. “Zipline’s expansion into Kenya, our seventh country, in partnership with Kisumu County, is a pivotal step forward to expand these important benefits to more communities around the world.”

The Senior Vice President for Zipline Africa, Mr. Daniel Marfo also assured that Zipline will expedite the distribution hub construction process to ensure that access to healthcare for life-threatening illness and vaccines is achieved rapidly, adding that the partnership will “solidify transformational logistics medical delivery in Western Kenya and put Kenya on the forefront of health excellence.”

The plan is for Kisumu to have one distribution centre from where the zips will be deployed to parts of the county where orders for medical supplies have been made, putting all the over 610,000 citizens within minutes of emergency medical delivery.

The longest distance the zips would have to cover from the Kisumu hub would be Ogal Beach about 25km away, which is meat and drink for the drones that are used to completing 160km round trips with ease on a daily basis.

“We have made some significant efforts in improving the overall healthcare delivery of our people,” said Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, the Kisumu County governor. “It is heart-warming to note, therefore, that our mission of achieving universal health coverage is on course with this historic partnership which will ensure that no one is left behind as a result of their location”.

Following the start of Zipline’s UAS delivery operations from its distribution hub in Kisumu County, the parties will collaborate in a project operations phase, in accordance with standard operating procedure and terms of service with the objective of providing medical commodities including COVID-19 vaccines doses to health facilities within the operational area.

More remarks on the partnership:

Chairman of LREB and County Governor of Kakamega: “It is our commitment as LREB to deliver an aggressive agenda of building a robust health delivery system that will not only serve a few but the vast majority of people within LREB Counties. Zipline’s technology is one we can resort to in accelerating the transformation of our health systems to provide timely healthcare solutions to the people on whose mandate we serve”.

County Executive Committee (CEC) member for Health, Dr. Gregory Ganda: “I am happy to note that this is one step towards reducing operational inefficiencies that inhibit access to universal healthcare in our country and region.”


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