On October 27th Jeff Bezos, founder of online retailer Amazon surpassed Bill Gates to become the worlds richest man, as Amazon became one of the top 5 retailers in the world. The company continues to innovate as an online retailer, especially in delivery where it is working on its next big project, Amazon Prime Air. This is a drone delivery project that hopes to offer clients their package 30 minutes after their order. The project is in an experimental stage as it slowly makes itself available to more clients and must go through several legal hurdles before it can undertake a full launch, but the idea is certainly innovative.
As innovative as this idea is, many do not have access to Amazon’s services, including most of Latin America except for Mexico and Brazil, so if you are in this category why would such a project be of interest to you? With Amazon being as large as it is it is no surprise that they are getting most of the attention when it comes to drone delivery as many are finding drones a practical solution to getting goods and medicine to remote communities where before their only option was the costly solution to ship by air or to traverse through dangerous roads. Various countries around the world including Rwanda and China have started to embrace this technology with many more looking at it with great interest and maybe its time countries in Latin America start to take notice as well.
In 2015 the Rwandan government partnered up with California tech company Zipline to deliver blood with an average delivery time of 15 minutes, much faster than using delivery trucks which its undeveloped road system made it difficult to do. Similarly, the Canadian government is paying close attention to one tech start-ups partnership with an indigenous community in Northern Canada where delivery costs are so high, simple necessities like a container of orange juice can cost $20.
It is true that the rural population worldwide is shrinking, and Latin America is no exception. With Columbia, Peru and Bolivia all experiencing a 5-7% dip in rural population in the last 15 years, but the issue of rural poverty still needs to be addressed. Bolivia itself has one of the largest rural populations in South America which has a high poverty rate. In partnership with the World Bank the Bolivian government has done a tremendous job reducing the overall poverty rate throughout the country however 60% still are below the poverty line and most of whom are in rural areas.
This is not a replacement for adequate road systems, but they do take a lot of time and money to build and maintain, drones could help deliver supplies to these areas in the near short term without the need for expensive infrastructure while the government continues its efforts to get its rural population out of poverty.
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World Bank (2017). The World Bank in Bolivia. Retrieved from http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/bolivia/overview#3
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