Drone-delivery company Zipline International has officially expanded its operations in to Ghana where it will have the capacity to dispense medicines and vaccines to millions of people throughout the country from four new facilities in the west African country. Zipline, based in California, began delivering blood and medicine in Africa in 2016 when it deployed drones from its first facility in Rwanda.
The battery-powered fixed-wing drones can carry up to 1.8kg (4lb) of cargo and make round trips of up to 100 miles at speeds of 70 miles per hour in almost all weathers. Supplies will include 12 routine and emergency vaccines as well as 148 blood products and life-saving medicines.
They release the small packages attached to parachutes without needing to land at the delivery points before returning to base. This saves critical time in rural areas that are hard for medics to get to via road.
Now opening at four facilities in Ghana at a cost to Ghana’s government of under £10 million over the next four years, the service will be available to over 2,000 health centres across the west African country.
President Akufo-Addo launched the service this week in the eastern city of Omenako, the site of the first of the four Zipline drone distribution centres to be opened by the end of this year. “No one in Ghana should die because they can’t access the medicine they need in an emergency,” he said. “We must do everything within our means to ensure that each and every citizen of Ghana has access to the quality healthcare they deserve.”
The four centres will eventually provide up to 600 on-demand delivery flights a day, serving an area of 7,000 sq miles and reaching up to five million people each.
Since Zipline commenced, 13, 120 lifesaving deliveries have been made via the drones. (africanaerospace, photo: Zipline)