Jumia signs with Zipline for delivery drones

Africa's first tech unicorn targets commercial drone delivery service with US partner Zipline.

Image : Jumia

Ecommerce firm Jumia has signed an agreement with delivery service Zipline to deploy drones for online shopping deliveries in Africa.

The partnership integrates Zipline’s automated delivery system with Jumia’s distribution network to deliver electronics, cosmetics, fashion and other products, the companies said in a statement.

A fleet of drones has been practicing delivering a variety of products beyond the limits of Jumia’s traditional distribution routes in Ghana, the company says. Test drones have travelled as far as 85km from Zipline’s operational hub in eastern Ghana’s Omenako village to deliver items in under an hour.

The companies say they eventually plan to roll out drone delivery services in Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and other markets.

US drone delivery company Zipline, which has delivered vaccine doses around Ghana and blood supplies to rural Rwanda, claims it can deliver certain items in 45-minutes or less in urban and remote areas.

The venture will help Jumia, which serves 11 African markets, to expand its delivery area to far-flung villages that are inaccessible by conventional transport routes, the group’s executive vice president Apoorva Kumar said.

“This will support Jumia’s commitment to sustainability and innovation and provide much-needed access to rural and remote areas where conventional delivery services have challenges.”

The new delivery system will incorporate Jumia’s 3,000 drop-off and pick-up stations to boost access to goods and help small and medium-sized businesses grow, San Francisco-based Zipline said.

“Zipline’s safe and efficient instant logistics system will make shopping on Jumia even more convenient, sustainable and accessible for its customers”, said Daniel Marfo, the senior vice president of Zipline Africa.

Germany-based Jumia became Africa’s first tech unicorn in 2016 when it reached a $1bn dollar valuation.

Founded by two Frenchmen, Jeremy Hodara and Sacha Poignonnec, Jumia filed for an IPO on the New York Stock exchange in 2019, providing a boost for the continent’s tech sector.

Founded in Nigeria, but with its global headquarters in Dubai, Jumia’s current market capitalisation stands at $704m.

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