Uganda today, is alien to the world of Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) popularly known as drones, autonomous Aircraft controlled by either pilots from the ground or following a preset program. The use of drones has grown quickly of recent because unlike manned aircrafts, they can stay aloft for hours and are extremely cheap.
Drones have long been popularized for warfare by America’s CIA and US-Air Force deploying them for military strikes against terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The military use of drones for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes got the thumbs up from George Bush and later was popularized by the Obama government.
The potential of these vehicles to sectors like Tourism, ecommerce, photography, Policing, rescue operations and much more is unwavering. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) recently announced a program to protect wild animals against poaching by deploying drones in its protected areas, a feat that has brought the use of such technologies closer to Ugandans.
Artist Bebe Cool can take credit for bringing the UAV technology closer to civilians after he used a quadcopter -(a multi rotor helicopter lifted and propelled by four rotor propellers) to shoot one of his music videos.
But a Captain Chris Matovu Nsamba of the Africa Space Research Program (ASRP) has gone one step further by developing one locally. Nsamba, credited for assembling Uganda’s first space craft which he code named the African Sky hawk; a project which has since gone under the water due to financial constraints, developed a drone which he showcased at the Uganda National Museum.
The aircraft according to Captain Nsamba, has GPS instruments, a custom made auto pilot system and two cameras installed. The drone can fly undetected by radar at a certain altitude with a flight time of seven hours he attested. This innovation has come timely.
With the advent of drone technology into delivery and postal services; announced recently by Amazon, the great American online store and its Chinese rival Alibaba, we are soon to see drones buzzing around in our daily lives even here in dusty Kampala city.
Poaching in national parks continues to be a menace for the authorities and with the demand for ivory and rhino horns hitting the roof mostly in China- Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania home to large herds of elephants have become targets. Drones can effectively be used for surveillance purposes against poachers and one can say are more reliable today than the lone game ranger.
The technology can also be used to monitor wild life activity in the game parks among other things. Kenya has already adopted a similar drone program in its wild life areas making Uganda’s move timely.
There is need to clean house too mostly with the corrupt government authorities in the East African countries. A recent scandal in Uganda involving the disappearance of billions worth of ivory confiscated from poachers within the government authority’s stores shows the problem is just not one front. With the demand for Ivory and rhino horns ever rising in Asia, countries like Uganda and Tanzania home to large herds of elephants can use such technologies to minimize poaching.
Additional sources: wekipedia.org, ugo.ug, dronewars.net