Replicate drones for medical supplies – World Bank president

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim launches a medical supply delivery drone at Zipline 

Drone Project in Muhanga District yesterday. Kim, who is in the country on a two-day visit, 

called for the replication of the use of remotely piloted aircraft (drones) to change how 

developing nations across the world deliver urgently required medical supplies. / Sam Ngendahimana

 

The World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, has called for the replication of the use of 

remotely piloted aircraft (drones) to change how countries deliver urgently required 

medical supplies.

Kim, who is on a two-day visit to Rwanda, made the remarks while touring the drones 

facility in Muhanga District, yesterday. Following a site visit and live demonstration 

of blood supplies delivery using drones by the Zipline team, Kim said the model ought 

to be replicated elsewhere in the world to help other countries lagging in delivery 

of medical supplies.

 

World Bank Group president, Jim Yong Kim.

He termed Rwanda’s use of remotely piloted aircraft as a “perfect example of how countries 

can use the latest technologies to achieve aspirations.”

Noting that most developing countries often face challenges in the delivery of medical 

supplies, Kim said the model can be applied broadly to address the challenge.

“One of the greatest challenges, especially in developing countries’ healthcare systems, 

is that when someone has an emergency and requires urgent attention, it is often difficult 

to get the supplies needed. In my view, this is exactly what needs to happen. They have 

taken cutting edge technologies to help countries like Rwanda to leapfrog,” he said.

He said that the model should be expanded to deliver more medical products beyond blood 

supplies to vaccines and urgently required medicines.

Despite the global fears of the impact of technology on job security with the automation 

of processes, Kim said, the use of drones is one of the positive impacts of technology 

uptake.

 

Dr Jim Yong Kim World Bank Group president and other officials wait for a drone to land at 

the Zipline Drone Project in  Muhanga. / Sam Ngendahimana 

 

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim visits Kigali Special Economic Zone  yesterday. 

/ Sam Ngendahimana

 

“The question is what can we learn from this project and expand what is done to more 

products such as vaccines,” he said.

Expanding the model

Speaking to The New Times on the sidelines of the event, the Minister for Health, Dr Diane 

Gashumba, said they were looking to expand the model across the country as well as to 

delivery more medical products using the technology.

In the process of expansion and scaling, the minister said, there would be room to work with 

partners in aspects such as health financing which is still largely funded by the government.

 

Dr Jim Yong Kim(L) ,Keller Rinaudo Zipline boss (C) and Minister for Health Diane Gashumba 

watch drone take off at the Zipline Drone Project in Muhanga. / Sam Ngendahimana

 

The project, launched in October last year, is spearheaded by Zipline Inc, an American 

robotics firm.

Using the drones, the firm delivers blood medical supplies to 21 health facilities in the 

western part of the country, which were most affected by the logistics challenges.

This has, in turn, reduced the duration of delivery of blood supplies to about 30 minutes, 

from four to five hours.

Kim also visited the Kigali Special Economic Zone where he toured Africa Improved Foods.

The firm is a joint venture between the International Finance Corporation, Dutch Multinational, 

the Dutch development bank, Group the Development Finance Institution of the UK, and the 

Government of Rwanda.

 

Drones land at the Zipline Drone Project in Muhanga District. / Sam Ngendahimana

 

Africa Improved Foods, which began operations in 2016, seeks to create a sustainable solution to 

fighting malnutrition in the country.

Later in the day, Kim visited an ICT innovation centre, kLab, and Digital Fabrication Lab (FAB LAB) 

in Kigali, where he interacted with young ICT entrepreneurs. He visited multiple innovations at 

the facilities asking questions to the developers for more insights.

Kim said since his last visit to Rwanda in 2013, there has been tremendous changes in the country. 

He said the World Bank Group would is committed to continue supporting the country’s development 

process.

“I come here very optimistic about the future of Rwanda, I am also aware that there are many 

obstacles and challenges. I am here to say to President Paul Kagame and the Rwandan people that 

the World Bank Group is ready to help in any way that they can and that we believe in the future 

of Rwanda and that it will continue to be a model for the entire world,” he said.

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim appreciates the Zipline drone project in Muhanga yesterday. 

/ Sam Ngendahimana

 

Commenting on the impact of the World Bank Group chief’s visit to the innovation centre, Jean de 

la Croix Niyotwagira, the founder of Torque, an ICT firm dealing in online management for wholesale 

distributors, told The New Times that it served as a motivation to emerging ICT entrepreneurs.

Niyotwagira added that the exposure of the emerging ICT sector through such visits would trigger 

more interest from potential partners and investors to venture into the Rwandan sector.

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim holds a box of blood as  the Zipline drone project 

manager Keller Rinaudo gives details in Muhanga.

 

Today, Kim is expected to give a public lecture at the Kigali Convention Centre, with a focus on 

the need to shift approaches to development in order to meet aspirations of the world’s seven 

billion people and to end extreme poverty.

Prior to his departure en route to Tanzania, Kim will visit a social protection site in Kinyana 

Village in Gasabo District.