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Drones/Robotics and Development Priorities in Africa: Transformative infrastructure or digital colonisation?

PI: Professor Simon Marvin, Professor and Director of Urban Studies, University of Sheffield 

Abstract
Africa is emerging as a critical site for experimentation with drones in the creation of new infrastructural systems to support national developmental priorities.  Drone service delivery can transform lives by compensating for inadequate or absent infrastructure but they are at an early stage of development and there are competing interests in drone development that mean the developmental potential may not be realised. Although they have attracted growing interest, the diverse options and experiments in African drone infrastructure have not been subject to wider research or societal scrutiny.  The purpose of this project is to explore and analyse the following questions:  What are the opportunities and challenges in developing these new infrastructure networks?  Where are new drone infrastructures being developed in Africa and what organisations are involved in experimental practices?  What lessons might be learned for the future?

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