MALABO – At a special event highlighting the partnership between the African Development Bank and Korea held on the sidelines of the Bank’s Annual Meetings, the role of drone technology to boost food productivity in Africa was on full display.
A pilot project, underway in Tunisia, is designed to reduce food imports. Drone technology is being used to collect and analyse data and monitor irrigated areas, combat pests.
The Bank launched the project, in cooperation with the Busan Metropolitan City in Korea with support from the Korea-Africa Cooperation fund (KOAFEC).
The session in Malabo included Korea’s ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, Kwak Ji Hwan, Korean technical experts, senior Bank officials, and private sector representatives.
“We see Korea as a strategic partner with respect to technology transfer, especially ICT technologies, drone technologies, and technology to improve crop varieties,” said Martin Fregene, the Bank’s Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industry.
Four hundred and sixty drone pilots are to be trained in 14 months.
The use of industrial drones, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing, in pest control management, security, and the delivery of supplies in remote areas was extensively discussed.
According to Fregene, following the completion of the pilot phase, the project will be expanded o other countries and regions in Africa. “our expectation is that in many cases drone technology can increase land yields by up to five times.”
In 2017, Africa imported $64.5 billion worth of food. ‘Feed Africa’ is one of the Bank’s High Five priorities launched in 2016 to transform and industrialize African agriculture and make Africa a net food exporter by 2025.
The City of Busan showcased the use of drones in agricultural and urban management and their current application in Africa, focusing on agro-industrial processing zones (SAPZ), a special flagship programme of Feed Africa, which will roll out in 16 African countries over the next four years.
The last annual meetings of the African Development Bank Group were held in Busan. During the Korea-Africa Forum for Economic Development (KOAFEC), the government of Korea signed a bilateral agreement for $5 billion in support for Africa. It has renewed its Korea Trust Fund at the Bank with an additional $18 million, bringing the fund to about $100 million, to support capacity building for Africans.
Professor Banji Oyelaran Oyeyinka, the Special Advisor to the President of the Bank on Industrialization, provided delegates with an overview of the Bank’s ongoing work to establish Special Agricultural Processing Zones across Africa using advanced technologies as well as investments in human capacity development.
The partnership between the Bank and the Republic of Korea began in 1980 when Korea joined the African Development Fund (ADF). During the 13th replenishment of the Fund, Korea contributed close to $88 million, an increase of 6.84% over the previous replenishment (ADF-12).