How Zipline helped Kaduna, Cross-River states fight COVID-19…with drones

The COVID-19 pandemic no doubt has left its scares on the global economy.

From sports, entertainment, banking, hospitals, religious activities, social engagements, and many more – the pandemic basically shutdown everything.

Fortunately for Nigerians, despite the occasional spike in infections, death rates were low because of the favourable demography and morbidity.

Added to this was the quick availability of vaccines to tackle the pandemic.

But despite this development, distributing same to all Nigerians irrespective of location within the country has been herculean.

Bearing this in mind, Kaduna and Cross River states took the clever step of deploying drones to deliver the vaccines – particularly to rural communities.

Both states signed agreements with a drone firm called Zipline – without significant state investment in cold-chain storage.

Who are they?

Zipline, a California-based drone start-up, has been at the forefront of delivering drone healthcare services across Africa.

They have worked extensively In Ghana, Cameroun, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Zipline’s on-demand, end-to-end delivery service doesn’t just integrate seamlessly into supply chain—it transforms it.

“In healthcare, retail, disaster response, and beyond, Zipline is both a service provider and an implementation partner in creating an optimized on-demand delivery system. Zipline facilitates new models of care, extends your reach, and leverages data to continuously improve your on-demand operation.”


It was no-brainer therefore for Kaduna and Cross-River states to do the needful.

This move by the two states enabled on-demand delivery of blood products, medications and other vaccines.

First, Kaduna state signed a deal with Zipline in February.

Service delivery in Kaduna commenced in April with round-the-clock service from three distribution centres with 30 drones each.

“It will help ensure that millions of people in Kaduna State will always get the care they need.” 

Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna state

In preparation for the drone delivery, Kaduna upgraded 255 primary health centres, installed a pharmagrade warehouse and commenced recruiting and training 3,000 officers to manage the facilities.


On Monday, Cross River state government also signed a deal with Zipline to distribute vaccines, medicines, and blood products to more than 1,000 facilities statewide.

“Zipline plans to initially build two distribution centers to facilitate deliveries to more than 1,000 health facilities that serve millions of people across the state. These distribution centers will support the delivery of medical supplies 24 hours a day, seven days a week.Construction of the first distribution center is expected to begin immediately and completed within six months from the start date. The partnership was made possible by the great foresight and collaboration of State Governor H.E. Benedict Ayade, Dr. Betta Edu, Honourable Commissioner for Health, and Dr. Janet Ekpenyong, the Director General of the Primary Healthcare Agency.”

Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State

Zipline on its part has promised to deliver medication, blood and vaccine supplies; while helping to build emergency response capabilities of healthcare providers in the state.

“We are on a mission to transform health care systems around the world, and we’re thrilled to partner with Cross River State as they invest in innovation to improve the health of their people. Our partnership is not just about delivering medical supplies. We are working together to reimagine how health systems work, how to best deliver care to patients, and increase access for all people by designing a better system.” 

Daniel Marfo, Senior Vice President of Africa at Zipline

Zipline will be the sole supplier for some health facilities in the state.

Flying high

While their projects in Kaduna and Cross-River states are ongoing, Zipline aircrafts will continue to fly around the world every 24 hours.

A single Zipline distribution center can make hundreds of deliveries per day and deliver nearly a ton of inventory.

The Zipline fixed-wing drone delivers faster and farther than any other commercial drone, allowing a single distribution center to reach millions.