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Technology

E-commerce firm targets local market with drones delivery

A screen grab of the kilimall website. PHOTO |
A screen grab of the kilimall website. PHOTO | NATION  

An online firm, Kilimall is carving it's own space of Kenya’s e-commerce by using unmanned vehicles (drones) to deliver goods at the door steps of its shoppers.

The firm says it is currently seeking government approvals, but estimates that delivery-by-drone, will be available to customers in the near future. Kilimall has already acquired the gadgets for testing purposes.

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles System (UAVs), flight is controlled either autonomously by on board computers or by the remote control of a pilot on the ground or in another vehicle. The firm intends to charge Sh200 for delivery of parcels weighing less than 3 kilograms within Nairobi.

“We are currently engaging the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and will also be talking to Ministry of Defence,” said Kariuki Maina, Kilimall marketing manager. “To achieve this vision, Kilimall is exploring and researching on how technology can be used to holistically drive change through youth capacity-building and opportunity creation,” he added.

The firm says it will be targeting those estates with marked house numbers.

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This comes on the backdrop of government ban in May to use to launch a wildlife surveillance drone at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, citing security reasons for using private sector drones.

Last month the Guardian reported that Germany-based delivery firm DHL had launched a regular drone delivery service for the first time beaten the tech Google and Amazon which had early announced they intention to release the same.

E-commerce remains relatively low in Kenya despite good internet connectivity and high uptake of mobile money payment services, a report by the industry regulator says.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) identifies three key factors in the report that it says stifle uptake of e-commerce among them a lack of addressing system on buildings, high custom duty and high taxes charged on imports.

Others are inadequate cybersecurity systems to allow merchants to verify the identity of their customers to manage potential fraud and a lack of reliable, low-cost delivery services and systems to enable consumers return unwanted or defective items.

The CA estimates the value of e-commerce in Kenya at Sh4.3 billion compared to South Africa’s Sh54 billion while in Egypt and Morocco it is about Sh17 billion and Sh9.6 billion respectively.

Started in July 2014, Kilimall presently hosts hundreds of different products from more than fifty (50) merchants. The merchants are drawn from local dealers to international companies and vendors.

Some of the merchants whose products are already on board include Baus optical, Panasonic, LG, Mobile World, Techno, Solar-way, Clarins Barbershop and Spa among others.

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