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 despite the current challenges faced by the region. Furthermore, this paper will demonstrate via three case studies that drone technology could be accessible to African states and could bring benefits to African societies through humanitarian, business, and public services.
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