Ghana is expected to deploy freight drone technology in the coming years to facilitate the timely movement of goods within the country.
This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the country’s Aviation Ministry and International Freight Drone (IFD) organisation.
IFD is expected to deploy freight drones that are capable of carrying 10-tons of shipping container over 700 kms, and build droneports at various parts of the country.
Freight drone technology, when fully developed would help get finished goods and fresh agricultural products from the hinterlands to major towns and cities within minutes.
Joseph Kofi Adda, Minister for Aviation of the Republic of Ghana and Thomas Murphy, Founder and CEO of IFD, signed the understanding that lays out a 3-year plan to introduce freight drones in the country.
The Minister in his statement copied to AviationGhana said the Memorandum stems from the realisation that the success of the government drones program in support of the health sector can be expanded to help the Aviation Ministry fulfill the President’s vision of making Ghana the Aviation Hub of West Africa.
“In Particular, the use of drones will facilitate the rapid movement of cargo to unreachable areas of the country. With Ghana now becoming the centre of AfCFTA means there will be the need to move cargo through the Sub-region and other parts of the continent.”
The scope of the MOU covers the following areas: Financial Study to determine the impact of using drones; Workforce development through a country-wide drone education program to support the industry; Site Surveys to determine droneport locations; Establish sky lane leases for exclusive drone use; and A three-phase implementation process for construction of droneports and to begin operations.
IFD will provide expert consultation to an economic think tank selected by the Ghana government to conduct a financial study. IFD will provide cost estimates for droneport building and operations, drone ownership and maintenance plus will help in developing the logistical cost for moving freight via drone within the borders of Ghana.
IFD will work with educational companies and the Ministry of Aviation to develop certification programs necessary for working with drones and at droneports. This training includes drone piloting, drone maintenance, flight operations, ground operations and several other areas of study that must be in place before the first freight drone is introduced.
During the first phase of implementation, IFD will utilize manned aircraft in combination with existing drone technology to move products from rural areas to cities. While the freight size will be on a smaller scale, this interim stage will be financially viable for the participating logistics companies and IFD. Over time, new drones will be introduced that will be fully autonomous with the ability to lift more than a ton thus increasing the range and capacity to move products into the world market.
While Ghana is the first country to begin this process, several other countries are considering similar agreements with IFD to introduce the freight drone industry to their country.