The Postal Corporation of Kenya (PCK) has partnered with Swift Lab Limited, to roll out drone based Last Mile Delivery Services countrywide for medical supplies, e-commerce purchases and essential cargo.
Under the three-year agreement, Swift Lab Limited, a Kenyan cargo drone company, will manufacture and operate drones that can travel up to 70km and carry a payload of up to 4kg.
“We want to invest in the production of drones, it is not only our obligation as government to invest in Kenyan technology, but we are also keen on clawing back our market position, as the courier and logistics services provider of choice,” said Dan Kagwe, the CEO and Postmaster General of PCK.
Speaking during the signing of the three-year agreement, Mr Kagwe said the partnership would make the delivery of essential medical supplies and other goods speedy and cost effective, through getting rid of middlemen. PCK currently has a partnership agreement with Kenya Medical Supplies Authority.
Swift Lab Limited will provide the technical expertise in the drones’ design, manufacturing, maintenance, software integrations and regulatory approvals, while adjusting the kilometres of travel for drones to up to 200km and above, on a need basis.
“Swift Lab has already been issued a Remote Aircraft Operations Certificate (ROC) by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, which makes us the only Company, approved for drone manufacturing and one of a few approved to operate drones in the country,” said James Munyoki, the CEO and Co-Founder of Swift Lab Limited.
Mr Munyoki said he was inspired to manufacture drones because of her mother who is diabetic and suffers from arthritis, but could not get medication on time when they were growing up, owing to the inaccessibility of healthcare.
Besides supporting the manufacturing pillar of the Government’s ‘Big 4 Agenda’, Mr Munyoki, said the partnership was also a quest to open the hinterlands of Kenya, making healthcare accessible in areas that cannot be reached via road, owing to extreme weather such as floods.
“The World Health Organization estimates that 1,000 Kenyans die from snake bites every year, with this partnership we can deliver anti-venoms or any other medications, to save lives in remote areas,” said Mr Kagwe.
The drones manufactured by Swift Lab Limited, have Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) capability, therefore, no runways or expensive infrastructure is required.
“This allows us to scale their operations across the country. The drones are utilizing clean energy and are powered by rechargeable batteries,” explained Mr Munyoki.
The two organisations will jointly mobilise resources for manufacturing the drones, while PCK will provide its facilities and infrastructure across the country as operation bases for drone delivery services.
Mr Munyoki noted that drone medical delivery services improve the effectiveness of medical personnel, as it gives them the leeway to concentrate their efforts on the patients, rather than logistics.
“Drone also enhances the efficiency of healthcare services by helping cater for on-demand emergency needs,” he concluded.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a