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From 3D printers to drones: Five technologies that could shape the continent’s future

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1. Drones to the rescue

It has always been difficult to get much-needed medicines and supplies to remote areas, which often lack navigable roads. In October 2016, the Rwandan government, in partnership with an American drone service provider, launched a drone initiative to deliver emergency medical supplies to hospitals – blood from the national blood bank for instance – reducing delivery times significantly.

Drones can also be less expensively deployed for postal and courier services, as well as online purchases. They can be used to survey farmland, disperse fertilisers, transport supplies to disaster zones, and monitor oil and gas pipelines.

In Nigeria, where militants in the southern Niger Delta region have been blowing up crucial pipelines, the authorities plan to use drones to monitor the pipelines and even strike erring militants. Farming, mining, and construction activities could use drones for various purposes as well.

2. 3D printing could standardise manufacturing, limiting barriers to entry

There is a lot said about how it is increasingly difficult for African countries to catch up to their developed counterparts when it comes to manufacturing. Much of this talk is about the need for specialisation in specific parts of an envisaged global value chain…

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