Rwanda to Host World's First 'Drone Airport'


The government has moved to set up a regulatory framework for remotely piloted aircraft, popularly referred to as 'drones,' following investor interest to establish the world's first drone airport (drone port) in the country beginning next year.

Last month, Norman Foster, a renowned British architect, expressed interest by his firm, Foster + Partners, alongside business partners to build the world's first drone port in the country to facilitate transport of urgent medical supplies and electronic parts to remote parts of the region using drones.

In their proposal, the investors said, beginning next year, they intend to begin construction of three drone ports, which will take about four years to complete.

To facilitate the planned development, Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA) is in the process of drafting regulations that will soon be submitted to Cabinet for approval and to be made operational by 2016.

The authority found it important to have the framework in place to guide further developments in the technology, which is fast becoming popular, as well as other aspects such as port construction.

RCAA public relations officer Tonny Barigye told The New Times that the overall aim was to ensure that the uptake of the technology was done in a secure, safe and efficient manner.

"As soon as the regulations are in force, Rwanda will be able to regulate any projects related to remotely piloted aircraft systems including and not limited to drone operations and all infrastructure required," Barigye said.

The process involves consultations with stakeholders in the aviation industry and is also guided by the international civil aviation guidelines.

Foster's firm is looking at a facility that will not only be used by Rwanda, but the region as well, with plans of expansion to the entire continent.
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