High-tech game changer

Otis Daniels_Finck
Walvis Bay

Dove Air Technology CC is currently in advanced discussions to partner with the ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to initiate a pilot phase for a project aimed at tackling illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Namibia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) using long range unmanned aerial drones paired with artificial intelligence.

“We will be doing this by providing both efficient and cost-effective data collection and monitoring solutions for fisheries management which will assist and enable the ministry to meet its legislative objectives. There will be no financial obligations to the ministry during the proposed pilot phase as the company have committed to absorb all cost as part of our investment,” explained Quintin Simon a founder member and partner of Dove Air Technology Namibia. The Namibian company is attached to Dove Air International, a cooperation engagement partner with the United Nations (UN) for marine patrols across nine countries as well as drone aid delivery. The company was founded by Francisco Serra-Martins, a Forbes 30 under 30 Honoree in consumer technology. Serra-Martins is also a member of Angel Investment, a movement which supports non-profit organisations worldwide. “What caught my attention is that Dove Technology offers affordable and low maintenance alternatives and solutions which yields exceptional results in several areas and industries of concern,” said Simon.

One such area is the trade in IUU fishing with estimates indicating that the country loses nearly N$1.5 billion in revenue due to this practise. Over fishing, transhipping, flying flags of convenience, the turning off AIS signals and border-hopping by illegal fishing vessels operating are commonly experienced in Namibian waters. There are 203 fishing vessels licensed in the Namibian EZZ of which 80 % are Namibian owned. “Safeguarding Namibian fisheries resources requires a fast response, simple operation, convenient maintenance, low operation cost and no personnel security risks when covering the entire 540 000 square km’s of our EEZ over the shortest periods of time possible to meet marine security law enforcement requirements.” Simon emphasises that this technology needs to be seen as an addition and complimenting current mitigation measure deployed by the miniseries in the fight against IUU fishing.

For Africa by Africa

Simon met Francisco at a business opportunity and became intrigued by the products Dave Air Technology develops and its work involving the use of Long-Distance Drone technology to combat several problematic areas worldwide. He explains that the Drones are manufactured and assembled in Johannesburg South Africa. “As part of the company’s strategic vision, we are planning to establish a Technology and Innovation Hub in Namibia which will focus mainly on assembling unmanned aerial drones.” This move will create new avenues of employment. “A revenue opportunity of more than R 2,3 Billion has been approximated in South Africa, including more than 33 800 jobs. It is imperative that we as Namibians anticipate the needs of the labour market and the economic development of our communities by attracting investment in industries and services of the future.”

Tried and tested

According to Simon the unique value proposition of The Dove Air Drone is that it has exceptional long range with a flying span of 800km (497 miles) and a flight time of 12 hours.
It can also carry a pay load of up to 19kg and can be utilised for delivering items in the most remote destinations. “Another exceptional added future of this technology is that it can operate day and night with the use of high-definition cameras capable of taking visual footage at day and nights using its thermal and infrared imaging systems to capture high quality life stream data and sharing it with headquarters, which assures a 24-hours operating capacity.” The cameras have optical zoom capacity of up to 30 times allowing for clear image and video capturing of subjects or assets being monitored, capturing the most detailed features of said subject for example registration numbers /ports registration details / vessel names/ IMO numbers of vessels and transmitting these details to headquarters for review.

Simon highlights that this technology is already tried and tested in countries such as Sierra Leone and Mozambique. “Its application in these areas is supported by international renowned organisations such UNICEF, USAID and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime.” The collected data gets transferred on deployment to head quarters via a C2 Link within 200km. If the Drone surpasses 200km Satcom is utilised for transmission of data with a 1-1.5 seconds latency delay on the live feed.”

Top secret

Simon understands and acknowledge the importance of storage and transmission of data captured during operations. “Hence we are providing several secure options for storage and segregation of data which can be managed internally by the end user or by Dove Air Technology and their high-tech military grade servers. This aspect is recognised the Geneva Centre of Security Policy.”

Far reaching benefits

Simon is convinced that this particular technology can have far reaching benefits for the country and its people. “There are also several other identified opportunities beyond fishing patrolling operations. The Drone can be utilised to do border patrols. It can be deployed for general observations national parks and to strengthen conservation and antipoaching efforts due to its long range and fight times.” Another possibility is to use the technology for delivering aid / vaccines to the most remote areas of the country at shorter delivery times. “This will give people accessibility to essential medicines, vaccines and even learning materials,” Simon concluded.