The Konza Technopolis grounds have begun demonstrating their use as a smart city. On Thursday, a test airship ferrying medical supplies to Homabay and Kisumu Counties used the grounds to take off.
In order to bridge the health gap in Kenya, the initiative was launched to deliver drugs to areas inaccessible due to poor infrastructure.
A consortium of three unique organizations—Kenya Flying Labs , Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), and Cloudline Inc. have come together in the airship venture.
Additionally, they have incorporated the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and Kenya Defence Forces. KCAA is the aviation regulator in Kenya.
Normally, an airship has a range of 50 km when transporting cargo of about five kilograms. However, this airship has been modified and fitted with solar panels. This modification will increase its range of travel.
The consortium envisions the project will enable smooth drug restocking in the selected counties. Currently, they are carrying out tests with the intention to officially launch in September this year.
Restocking will be the main task as the airship is slow. Additionally, the deliveries will be based on a preset and preapproved schedule.
The Claudine airship combines the lifting power of helium with advanced flight control and an all-electric powertrain. It can conduct multi-stop flights, enabling reverse logistics.
Moreover, it requires little infrastructure to set up landing airstrips.
Airship Use to Enhance Safety
The partners had already conducted feasibility studies and stakeholder engagement workshops in the two counties of Kisumu and Homa Bay.
The purpose of the workshops was to educate the locals and bring them on board as key stakeholders.
During the feasibility study, a number of health centres were mapped out. The mapping will help develop route plans and create delivery schedules. Additionally, the medicals supplies to be delivered have already been determined.
Cleopa Otieno, chief executive officer of Kenya Flying Lab, stated the two counties were most receptive to the initiative. This was the reason for their selection.
“We had a better reception from the county executives,” said Cleopa Otieno
He added that airship delivery will enhance the safety of personnel and drugs due to the reduction of boat transportation.