The Tanzanian government has announced it’s launching the world’s largest drone delivery service to provide emergency on-demand access to critical and life-saving medicines beginning in the first quarter of 2018 in Dodoma, the country’s capital.
According to the government, it will use drones to make up to 2,000 life-saving deliveries per day to over one thousand health facilities, serving 10 million people across the country.
“Every life is precious,” said Dr. Mpoki Ulisubisya, Permanent Secretary of the Tanzania Ministry of Health. “Our vision is to have a healthy society with improved social well being that will contribute effectively to personal and national development; working with Zipline will help make that vision a reality.”
Tanzania is not the first country in the region to do these. In October 2016, Rwanda partnered with Zipline, a California-based automated logistics firm to launch its drone delivery network. In Tanzania, Zipline will operate from four distribution centers—one in Dodoma, two near Mwanza and Lake Victoria, and one in Mbeya. The four distribution centers will be equipped with up to 30 drones and targeting up to 500 on-demand delivery flights a day to ensure that all 5,640 public health facilities have blood transfusion supplies, emergency vaccines, HIV medications, anti-malarials and critical medical supplies like sutures and IV tubes.
The drones can carry 1.5 kilos of cargo, cruising at 110 kilometers an hour, and have a round trip range of 160 kilometers. Health workers place delivery orders by text message and receive their package within 30 minutes on average. Zipline which has flown more than 100,000 km in Rwanda, delivering 2,600 units of blood over 1,400 flights.
“Millions of people across the world die each year because they can’t get the medicine they need when they need it,” said Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo. “It’s a problem in both developed and developing countries. But it’s a problem we can help solve with on-demand drone delivery. And African nations are showing the world how it’s done.”