A Rwandan drone company has emerged among the winners of the 2020 Lake Kivu Challenge (LKC) drone flying competitions, the first of its kind that seeks to demonstrate real use cases for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) on the African continent.
In an online awards ceremony on May 5, Leapr Labs Rwanda was announced winner of the Data Analysis Special Award category walking away with £15,000 among other companies that pocked over £30,000 in cash prize awards.
The drone flying competitions took place in Karongi, Rwanda, in February and saw competitors flying between a drone port on the shore of Lake Kivu and another 20km away across the water on Bugarura Island.
The competition owes its success to collaboration between the Government of Rwanda, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID/UKAID), and the World Bank Group.
Serge Tuyihimbaze, the Co-founder & Managing Director of LEAPR Labs- a local community of applied scientists and researchers who followed the event online said that this was a record award which will change the firm’s ambitions in 2020.
Tuyihimbaze said that the money will be used for research and development around drone solutions in support of ideas developed by young drone scientists and researchers.
“This award is a motivation adding to the experience and network we got from the competition, which we will use to become more than just data analysis but also fly drones, Tuyihimbaze said.
“The Money will be used in running our research programs and requirements needed in material for young engineers – to find drone solutions in Rwanda”.
Participating companies competed in drone use aspects of delivery and pickups, safety, data analysis, find and assess among others.
Germany drone wings dominated other winners of other awards with two German firms- Wingcopter Germany, winning two awards on the Emergency Delivery Competition (£60,000) and Safety (£5,000), and Phoenix Wings winning £60,000 in Sample Pick-Ups.
Hojung Solution from South Korea won £60,000 in the Find and Assess Competition.
The event featured Rwanda’s Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, Franz Drees Gross, Regional Director at World Bank, and other senior representatives from the Government of Rwanda, World Bank Group and U.K. Department for International Development, as well as technical experts from the LKC.
Minister Ingabire said the competition is not just about recognizing and awarding winners, but rather drawing attention and collaboration from the wider global drone industry and partners to bring these solutions to scale in Africa.
Franz Drees-Gross, Regional Director, World Bank said that this will leverage the continent to find solutions to problems such as the COVID-19 pandemic through resilient supply chains, digital skills and digital jobs and innovation which are now more important than ever.