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Three Drone Startups that are changing the African Landscape

By John Keendjele
Published in Technology
July 04, 2021
3 min read
Three Drone Startups that are changing the African Landscape

While mindlessly scrolling through twitter, I came across a brilliant article on how Botswana began making use of medical drone delivery services to prevent maternal deaths. The article certainly peaked my interest, as I have always been someone whose had a long held interest in drone technology.

The potential of the drone industry is truly incredible! I mean guys, I can honestly write a whole thesis on this topic, however I don’t want to take up all your time, plus I know most of you will probably read the first few paragraphs, scan through the pictures, and call it a day.


A trend that I have noticed in the past two years is an influx of different drone companies establishing themselves in different industries around Africa. This is something truly inspirational, as I consider myself a tech geek, who truly believes that drone technology can revolutionize several industries in Africa.

Instead of focusing on the potential of the drone industry (saving that, don’t you worry!), in this blog, I’ll highlight the different drone companies currently operating in Africa which are revolutionizing their respective industries.

Air Shepherd: (Drones helping in the fight against poaching)


By now it should be no secret that wildlife poaching is a huge problem all over Africa. A shocking statistic that will surprise many, is that since 2007, Rhino poaching has increased by 9000% in South Africa alone. It is said that every 9 to 11 hours a Rhino is slaughtered, and around every 14 minutes an elephant is killed. At this rate, elephants and rhinos will be extinct within 10 years.

This problem led to the formation of Air Shepherd which is a drone foundation made up of researchers and conservationists. Air Shepherd is a non-profit organization that primarily relies on donations to help their cause.

airshep drone
Members of Airshepherd dispatching an evening drone

The foundation’s AI surveillance drones are able to fly over large patches of land, both in the day and night. When potential poachers are spotted by the drones, the team on land, radios nearby rangers who intercept the suspects.

The team at Air Shepherd are truly doing amazing things, and if you ever want to donate to there cause I’ll put a link right here.

Zipline: (Drones delivering Covid-19 vaccines in Ghana)


The threat of Covid19 has forced many countries to figure out ways to make use of new and emerging technologies to fight though the pandemic. This problem led to US based drone company, Zipline, bringing their operations to Africa.

Due to how remote certain areas are within Africa, it was always a logistic challenge to deliver vital medication to the people in need. Zipline, which was founded in 2014, tackled this challenge by building UAV transport drones that could fly long distances.

Engineers at Zipline working on a drone

This was with the purpose of delivering medical supplies to clinics and individuals who were based in remote areas.

In 2020, WHO reported that Ghana was the first African country to receive the first shipment of COVAX vaccines. A large reason for this were the efforts made by Zipline in guaranteeing the delivery of the vaccine to any health facility in the country at a low cost.

Aerobotics: (Drones making it easier for farmers to work)


And last but not least, we have Aerobotics, which is a Cape Town based drone startup company. In 2014, the co-founder, Benji Meltzer, identified a huge gap in the agricultural market as Africa holds more than 60% of the world’s uncultivated farmable land.

In addition to this, there was no available crop data at the time, so Meltzer and his co-founder Paterson made use of aerial imagery and drone technology to collect this data.

Founders of Aerobotics

In 2020, Aerobotics managed to raise N$ 250 million in series B funding which was primarily led by the Naspers foundry business.

With the drone industry starting to boom, there are several honorable mentions that I could include, but I’d rather save that for another blog. The bottom line of all this is that drone technology is here to stay. I’m excited to hear of more innovative way that people use these machines to solve more complex problems, especially here in Africa.


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John Keendjele

John Keendjele


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