The use of civilian drones is increasing in Africa as everywhere else. In Africa, it is often in response to the prevailing lack of infrastructure, especially roads. Answering the need to meet demand for drones in one African country, one young entrepreneur has now embarked upon a mission to design and manufacture of these flying machines.
He represents a shining hope for Africa. Drones could be a big piece in the puzzle to solve infrastructure problems. In Kenya, Astral Aviation, an airline logistics company will soon open an airport for drones. The group said the facility, the first such in Africa, will be ready this year and its fixtures will have several capabilities for oil exploration in the region.
In Rwanda, drones are used to transmit blood samples to hospitals, while in Malawi an air corridor has been exclusively reserved for drones. Anti-poaching, agriculture and disaster response – the possibilities for drones to improve Africa are endless.
William Elong, a 25-year-old from Cameroon, thought why not manufacture them in Africa, then? With a MBA in Strategy and Competitive Intelligence from the Economic Warfare School of Paris, he was empowered to take the step to create Will and Brothers, a start-up that, among other things, offers UAV solutions to businesses. A pioneer in Cameroon, Will and Brothers is the pride of the country, said Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Minette Libom Li Likeng. She sees “the demonstration of the capacity of innovation of the Cameroonian youth”.
It has not been an easy road though, as there is not much support for research and development. “The beginnings were extremely complicated. But we have a dynamic, autonomous and state-of-the-art team, thanks to which we have found the solution for drone development,” explains Yves Tamu, the technical director.
As Elong explained, it was much more complicated to finance the projects. “People do not believe in anything. When you say that you want to create an artificial intelligence or drones, people do not see any interest, ” he said. In fact, $200,000 of funds raised during the creation of the company were mostly found outside Africa.
“I’m amazed how much people are not interested in technology here,” he adds, disappointed by his compatriots. But against all odds, he has carved a path into drone development and manufacturing.
His latest initiative Drone-Africa aims to offer drone services to local businesses related to tourism, agriculture, defense, meteorology and mapping.
Currently, the young company has three flagship products. The first, Algo, is a fixed-wing UAV, with a range of 20 km and flight time of more than 45 minutes. The second, Logarithm, is a rotary wing drone; while Sanaga, which is named after the largest river in Cameroon, being a ground ROV.
Presenting his drones for the first time early last month in Yaoundé, Elong told Medafrica Times the prices of his drones are “25 times cheaper” than the market price. However, the launch prices have not yet been disclosed, as the young entrepreneur has launched a second campaign in order to increase its production and reach the international market.