Kanie Supply and Distribution Chain, a local Namibian business involved in various fields including independent contracting, photogrammetry, draughting, and Information and Communications Technology (ICT), saw an opportunity to provide solutions to social problems in Namibia using robotics—and drones in particular.
It started when Kanie partnered with its affiliates in 2019 to organize a local agribusiness dialogue aimed at empowering future business leaders and the youth of Namibia. Since then, it’s become clear that robotics are useful in helping local communities, especially in the agricultural sector.
Now formally launched as Namibia Flying Labs, the organization is a facility for inclusive social empowerment by equipping locals with the necessary skills and expertise to develop and execute robotics solutions against local challenges. Their central aim is to promote and foster innovation as well as sustainable use of the local ecosystems as set out by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 9 and 15, respectively. For example, the team wants to pioneer a regional system that allows farmers to monitor crop production, quickly identify irrigation problems, soil variation, as well as pest and fungal infestations. Additionally, working with partners over the next few years, Namibia Flying Labs plans to carry out civil surveillance drone operations, which include infrastructure assessment, deforestation and wildlife conservation, aerial surveys, and remote inspections for dangerous sites.
As part of their goal to foster innovation and democratize technology, the team plans to encourage youth to join the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) by bringing drones and related technologies to the rural areas of Namibia. By working in tandem with the Namibia Association for Women in Science, Namibia Flying Labs will have a particular focus on empowering women to pursue and advance in STEM careers. This initiative aims to lower and eventually zero gender inequality and bring technology and innovation to members of the community from an early age.