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According to World Bank estimates, Africa needs to spend $38 billion more each year on transport infrastructure, plus a further $37 billion on operations and maintenance to sustain its current levels of development. A significant financing deficit lies between Africa's reality and the mobility that it both needs and aspires to. Only 34% of Africa's population is within 2 kilometres of an all-weather road.

This is more than just a mobility issue. Road accidents are the continent’s third biggest killer, making this also an issue of public health.

The Lake Victoria Challenge (LVC) explores the potential of unlocking Africa’s lower skies as a mobility resource. Envisioned to be the first event of its kind in Africa, it focuses on emerging transport technologies that can leapfrog the continent’s infrastructure deficit and address its public health and mobility challenges with a visionary, safe and scalable solution.

LVC will take place in Mwanza, Tanzania. This drone corridor is nestled between an airport and large, hard-to-reach communities, making the Lake Victoria Challenge an ideal rehearsal for real-world operations and risk assessment. LVC is the first programme to integrate drones into the full ecology of an existing supply chain, and brings together users, operators, community stakeholders and government.

The LVC Flying Competitions

Drone innovators will compete in a series of real-world scenarios, including pickup and delivery of a medical parcel using electric vertical take-off and landing platforms, environmental sustainability, and safely abiding by the rules and regulations prescribed by the Tanzanian Civil Aviation and Military authorities.

The LVC is designed to showcase and test business models, processes and mature e-VTOL UAV technologies with high potential of near-term adoption for routine use in the Lake Victoria Region.

There are three flying competitions, which correspond to different use cases (Emergency Delivery, Sample Pick-Ups and Find and Assess). Drones will be tested in these competitions between Juma Island and a temporary droneport in Mwanza City.

Each flying competition will have a prize incentive – in the form of a demonstration contract or service related to local customers. Further details to be announced.

How to participate

There are three phases to the LVC flying competitions. The first phase involves completing an online registration form to explain how your drone system meet the different eligibility criteria for one of the three flying competitions.

Competition teams that successfully move onto phase two will be asked to virtually demonstrate how their drone can address specific use cases. Further details around this phase will be announced in April 2019.

Shortlisted teams will be invited to compete in phase three: the LVC flying competitions in Mwanza between 25 and 30 November 2019, in front of an international panel of judges.

Competitors will also be invited to showcase their technology at the LVC Expo and Symposium, which is scheduled on 3-5 December 2019 in Mwanza. In addition, a separate registration process will be available for static displays and out-of-competition demo flights for the LVC Expo and Symposium.

Launched by the Regional Government of Mwanza, Tanzania, and the World Bank, LVC is supported by the UK Department for International Development through Ideas to Impact, UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the World Economic Forum.

For more information on the LVC flying competitions and to register, please visit

Cover photo credit: Chris Morgan (Fundi Films)/World Bank