Zimbabwe drone stakeholders converge
Having warmed up to drone technology at the first ever drone conference held in Zimbabwe last November, Zimbabwe will converge in Harare again starting today to discuss latest development in the country’s drone industry.
And this time, the Zimbabwe International Drone Conference – which kicks off today and ends on Friday – has scored a real coup in that the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe will make an appearance and share insights as to how the national regulator seeks to relate with the local drone industry and how they expect to work together.
The national regulator will make an appearance at the event at a time when it has been in the news after issuing out the first Remote Operator’s Certificate to the Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution and Transmission Company (ZETDC), the state-owned enterprise charged with electricity generation and distribution in the country.
The ZETDC will be used drone technology to inspect its infrastructure, which includes checking powerlines lined up all over the country and ensuring that they are still in good condition and that there is not undergrowth that would disturb the electricity path.
In the time after Zimbabwe held the last conference, the country has also seen disaster management organisation, the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) established a drone unit to help gather data in disaster situations like flooding, which has been afflicting the country of late.
Training organisations like Precision Drone Training and Drone Solutions Zimbabwe also grew in the past year; and in the case of the former, the training school and its sibling organisations, Precision Aerial Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Flying Labs have been travelling across the country, spreading the drone technology gospel to younger generations.
The 2022 edition of the Zimbabwe International Drone Conference will discuss issues including how the industry is developing in the country and the Southern African region; the legal framework as well as applications in industries that include public safety, security, mining, survey and mapping; as well as agriculture.
Aside from the CAAZ Director General, Engineer Elijah Chingosho, other speakers include the powerhouse experts from South Africa in UAV Aerial Works Director, Kim James and Sam Twala, the founder of drone services company Ntsu Aviation, which is rightly basking in the glory of lending a heavy hand in the issuance of the first ever delivery drone ROC and Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) certificate in South Africa.
Scout Aerial’s Patrick Weeden will cover drone developments in mining and construction, while delegates can look for perspectives from drone solutions suppliers like Tatenda Mafara of Iron Mask Aerotech, Chitula Lukonde the proprietor of Zambia Flying Labs, Itumeleng Mokoena from Parthenius Air; Tafadzwa Chikurira and Piwai Chikasha from ZETDC and Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company respectively.
Admittedly, the organisers have butterflies in their stomachs this morning, in anticipation of another bumper event with hundreds of drone technology enthusiasts, but there is no doubt of the contribution they are making towards the growth of the drone industry in the country.
“The use of Drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft is on the rise locally and this technology is revolutionising the way work is being done across a number of key sectors,” said Tawanda Chihambakwe, Precision Aerial Zimbabwe founder and overall coordinator for the conference.
“Drones are part of the broader Fourth Industry Revolution technologies and can be a great tool if harnessed and applied correctly.
“For a young economy like Zimbabwe, drones and their software applications are needed especially in economy mainstays like mining and agriculture; and for humanitarian causes like disaster management and healthcare.
“Most of the leading Mines in Zimbabwe have begun to deploy drones in different ways for Mine Surveying or Security purposes. The Ministry of Agriculture has also been testing the use of Crop Spraying Drones to boost food security and deal with pests like quelea birds that affect wheat crops.
“ZESA (the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, the parent company of ZETDC) recently received full licensing from the Civil Aviation Authority to conduct power line inspections using drones across the national grid.”
The conference has added a demo session, scheduled for Friday where there will be live demonstrations on various drones and their applications.
For more and what is in store in this year, you can check out the event for yourself.