Agriculture is one the most important and boosting industry in Africa, and Charis Unmanned Aerial Solutions (Charis UAS) decided to introduce an innovative way of helping the industry’s grow using drones.
Charis UAS is the only licensed drone operator in Rwanda, providing rapid and high-quality aerial imagery to customers in a range of industries. The company has tripled in size in the past year, with projects that have included using drones to map the wetlands in the city of Kigali, as well as monitoring construction sites and helping farmers to boost their productivity and yields.
“We have grown the business by showing our clients the value-add of our services, namely: cost and time savings, high-quality data and the best customer service,” says Eric Rutayisire, founder and CEO. “The best marketing comes from customers who refer you to others based on their experience of your work. Furthermore, we have built a strong team of young people with great enthusiasm for the technology.”
Charis is now planning to expand far beyond its home market of Rwanda, with the aim of operating in about 20 countries around the continent within the next five years, tripling its workforce every year as it expands. The main opportunities it has identified are the use of drones in the agriculture, construction, inspection and mining sectors.
As drone use becomes more widely accepted, the opportunities are likely to proliferate, but so will competition. “There are opportunities as more industries embrace the use of drone technology to advance their operations,” says Eric. But, he adds, “there will be more players coming into the industry.”
While regulations may slow the adoption of drone technology in some markets, Eric says a more significant hurdle is accessing government contracts. “The main challenge is having access to government projects. Most projects go to international companies and locals sometimes miss out,” says Eric. “The government should prioritise local companies in tenders and give them a chance in executing local projects. This will increase the capacity of local companies.”