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Rwanda Allocates Funds to Establish Drone Operation Centre

Rwanda has set aside Rwf2.3 billion for the 2024/2025 fiscal year to establish a Drone Operation Centre. This initial funding marks the beginning of the country’s efforts to develop its unmanned aircraft industry and ensure proper utilization and regulation.

The centre will be located in Huye District, Southern Province, at the current site of the Huye aerodrome. René Kabalisa, Principal Research and Development Engineer at the Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA), revealed that the total budget for the project is Rwf13.4 billion, with completion expected by 2026.

The Drone Operation Centre will accommodate over 3,000 drones of various sizes, including large drones similar in size to helicopters. “The Centre will receive drones of all types, including those with wingspans up to 20 meters,” Kabalisa said.

According to the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, this initiative is part of Rwanda’s goal to become an ICT hub. The centre will host drone students, designers, and pilots, and will support drone manufacturing, testing, training, and research and development. It will also offer a safe space for recreational and hobbyist drone activities.

Angelos Munezero, Public Digitisation Analyst at the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, described the centre as a hub for drone innovations, where all related activities, including testing and development, will take place. This controlled environment is crucial for safely testing new drone technologies.

The need for a designated testing area is underscored by the risks associated with flying drones in populated areas like Kigali. The Huye-based centre will provide a secure space for such tests, supporting innovation without endangering the public.

Drones in Rwanda are used for various purposes, including the transportation of medical supplies and artificial insemination materials for livestock. They also play a role in conservation efforts, disaster response, and agricultural inspections. Advanced drones equipped with artificial intelligence can assess crop needs and assist farmers by spraying pesticides or irrigating fields more efficiently.

The establishment of the Drone Operation Centre reflects Rwanda’s commitment to advancing its technological capabilities and becoming a leader in the drone industry.

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