Kenya’s E-commerce platform to use drones to deliver packages

November 7, 2014
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A new entrant in the Kenyan e-commerce market is planning to use drones to deliver packages to customers as a way of distinguishing its service from a growing number of e-commerce platforms in the country.

Kilimall’s Training and Delivery Project aims to deliver packages to your doorstep using drones “within 30-minute delivery time” in Nairobi.

“We thought of the best way to efficiently deliver packages to our customers and the drone was an obvious answer. It is fast and cheaper compared to other ways of delivering goods around the city,” explains Kariuki Maina, Kilimall Marketing Manager.

Kilimall has partnered with technicians from China who will supply customized quadcopters. Maina says interest in the drones is growing and they are getting enquiries from customers who want to buy the drones for professional or personal uses.

“The Training and Delivery Project is training photographers and videographers on how to use the drones for better angles,” says Maina.

Quadcopters, usually referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles System (UAVs) are controlled either autonomously by on board computers or by the remote control of a pilot on the ground or in another vehicle.

Kilimall has encountered a legislative lacuna as they approach different government authorities including Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and Kenya Defence Force for permits to use the drones extensively.

“We don’t have clear laws and guidelines to govern use of unmanned planes so we can’t set a date when we will start using drones commercially but we are hoping some time soon,” explains Maina.

It could be months before the first package is delivered by a drone considering Amazon’s own plan of using drones for delivering packages hasn’t yet taken off.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was quoted saying it will take “4-5 years before customers can get packages delivered by drones.” This is dues to the extensive testing and FAA approvals.

Kilimall is leveraging on technology to set the platform apart from other e-commerce sites in Kenya though it doesn’t itself playing in the same space.

“The difference between Kilimall and other e-commerce sites is that Kilimall is a platform that hosts other shops that have an online store. We are Africa’s biggest online mall. We host shops and merchants and have no direct contact with their customers,” says Maina.

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