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Building capacity to help Africa trade better

The potential role for drones in Africa’s value chains

Working Papers

The potential role for drones in Africa’s value chains

Industrialisation and the emergence of new technologies, such as the Internet, have improved value chain efficiency but also increased the complexity of production linkages. Within the context of Africa, the functioning of value chains tends to be more complex due to the lack of transport (roads, railways, ports and airports) and other infrastructure.With the rise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR) and the development of newer technologies, specifically drones, artificial intelligence, big data, mobile devices and 3-D printing, the performance of value chains stands to be improved. These technologies represent both significant  opportunities, but also challenges to countries in terms of the educational, financial and infrastructural developments required for the effective integration of these technologies.

The potential role of drones associated with the rise of digital business in Africa and the accompanying decrease in the production costs may shape this aspiration into reality. Amongst the technologies of the FIR, drones may offer a new tool to the logistics industry and may be game changers for managers in the African value chain.

This paper will provide a short definition of drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and will demonstrate how this tool could fit into and work within the African value chain in spite of the current challenges faced by the region. Furthermore, this paper will demonstrate via three case studies that that drone technology could be accessible to African states and could bring benefits to African societies through humanitarian, business and public services.


Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.

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