HOW DRONES ARE DRIVING DEVELOPMENT VIA DIGITAL PLATFORMS
24-year-old Accra based Kwamena Hazel (owner of Aeroshutter) has decided to tap into drone technology, which is currently infiltrating the globe, as a tool for development. Entrepreneurs and media personnel’s across Africa have already begun their journey into discovering the wide range use and applications of the device.
A drone aircraft is an unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly referred to as a UAV. That means it's an aircraft, of any size or type, that flies by itself, without an onboard pilot or passengers.
With a degree in computer science from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, one of Ghana’s top universities, he headed into banking, but adopted drones and technology as a hobby. Hazel introduced drones into Ghana due to its prominence in the developed nations; he was initially hindered from investing in drones due to high cost but drone manufacturer DJI’s introduction of a “return home” function was the start of his now great company. In just under two years, Hazel has built a diverse customer base, from multinational mining companies to pop stars like Mr. Eazi.
“Even before buying the first drone, I had a blueprint for my business,” Hazel says. “In the beginning, because it was a new technology that most Ghanaians hadn’t heard about, I mostly focused on taking pictures from a different perspective.”
When Hazel first flew a drone near his family home, he recalls frightening local people. However, as people have become more accustomed to seeing drones in urban centers, fear was gradually replaced by curiosity and eagerness to try out the new technology. “Initially, people would request aerial shots for weddings and events,” the entrepreneur explains. “But once we started putting pictures on social media, we garnered a lot of buzz, which not only helped us educate Ghanaians about the new technology, but also get the attention of potential corporate clients.”
Aeroshutter offers a wide-range of services for the farming, mining, and construction industries including 3D volumetric image processing, aerial photography, and commercial property surveillance. While the standard surveying process can take between three to five days, Aeroshutter’s drone technology can cut the process down to 24 hours. In construction, the company uses drones to help clients assess building progress.
Drone purchases from the United States are expensive. “We buy our stuff in dollars, which means you have to work four times over before you can purchase products,” Hazel explains. “You have to work extra hard to buy things that can be easily obtained in the U.S. People complain sometimes about our prices, but we have to recoup costs, buy new parts, and upgrade our fleet. The highest quality drones can cost as much as $12,000.”
That Drones have moved from being war tools to enhancing development via digital technology, is an obvious step in the right direction. So if you are a media platform or company, Security Company, delivery services platform and even the Government, a drone is a good investment; while you might incur a higher cost than budgeted, in the long run the profits will have a ripple effect.
Despite the challenges, Aeroshutter sees many avenues for future growth. In the energy and insurance industries, for example, Hazel hopes that drones can be used to help assess damage to power lines or damage sites. New projects launching in 2017 include Aero Ads, an innovative drone advertising service, and Aero Arcade, a drone-racing series.
“As we build a team that understands the technology, and what it can do for the Ghanaian economy,” he says, “we’re pushing the boundaries of how drones can be used to build the Ghana of the future.”