The use of unmanned aircraft (drones) has been problematic on the African continent. However, Kenya recently lifted its ban on the use of drones in the country’s airspace. The problems are around safety, regulation, and legislation for the unmanned aircraft. Nonetheless, this is the time Africa should be more receptive to the use of drones.
The lockdown across the world means the human movement is limited. Some countries have even deployed police and national armies to ensure the lockdown regulations are being adhered to. It is important to note that policemen and soldiers are also vulnerable to exposure. This means the use of other means is of great importance to ensure social distancing is practiced.
Tunisia and South Africa are amongst countries that have been using drones to monitor the movement of people in cities to ensure the lockdown regulations are being followed. Rwanda has just joined the group by also introducing drones to combat the further spread of the coronavirus. This is not the first time Rwanda has deployed drones to assist in Health-related matters. Previously the country deployed drones in the fight against malaria in which drones were dispatched to spray and kill mosquitoes in malaria-prone zones.
The Rwandan National Police have deployed drones armed with loudspeakers with pre-recorded messages to spread awareness and give people updates with regards to pertinent matters related to the coronavirus. The use of drones also ensures the authorities are protected from unnecessary movement and promotes the social distancing mantra. The police have also advised people to not gather in groups to listen to the messages. There is a fear that in remote areas people will want to go outside to view the innovation that will be spreading the message. The authorities are trying to ensure the people are educated on the matter of the need to stay inside their homes.
Drones come along with great benefits in a time where social distancing is of paramount importance. There is less movement by authorities, they cover more space quicker effectively, eliminate fuel costs and can reach remote areas which are seldom reached by daily patrolling officers.
In combatting coronavirus education and communication is of paramount importance and this stride taken by Rwanda will assist in their fight against the continuous spread of the virus.
The Rwandan leadership deserves applaud for being aggressive in their attack on the coronavirus. They were one for the first African countries to implement a national shut down and they put in measures to distribute free food. The Rwandan approach has been extremely practical and cognisant of all factors that could challenge the success of the lockdown and they have made practical implementations to avoid such. They avoided their citizens from starving during the lockdown and aware that during such times there is a rampant spread of false information they have used technology to ensure accurate and effective dissemination of information.
Technology is of great importance during a time human movement is limited. Governments across the continent should look to exploit technology to help them curb the further spread of the virus and to access rural and remote settlements. China used drones to help in sanitizing their cities which proved effective and quicker than a human workforce could have done.
More African countries should emulate the implementations and regulations in Rwanda and other countries on the continent which are implementing practical regulations to combat the virus. This will assist greatly because most challenges are common across the continent and often the solutions will be similar across the board. Therefore it is prudent for African nations to try to emulate where possible solutions implemented in their neighboring countries because this virus is new and all solutions are worthy of trying to curb the virus as we await an effective vaccine or cure.