The deployment of Dr.One drones for the transportation of health commodities to remote locations, as an augmentation to the existing motorbike supply chain system, is cost effective. On the basis of actual health care data, the need for five hundred Dr.One flights per year in the Builsa district alone could be established. Actual cost savings for the Ghana Health Services amount to US$ 4,129 per drone per year when Dr.One drones are introduced in small quantities, for example at one location in the Builsa district.
Main cost savings can be attributed to differences in fuel costs (only low energy costs for electrically powered drones) and difference in vehicle speed during transportation (mainly resulting in low operator costs for the high-speed drones, when compared to the costs for motorbike dispatch riders). These two factors alone (fuel and vehicle speed) account for the majority of cost savings. The notion that drones fly point-to-point in a straight line while motorbikes follow a longer route via a road structure accounts for additional but smaller cost savings. Savings on wear-and- tear of motorbikes, savings on replacement of parts and savings on accidental damage to motorbikes are estimated to be smaller, but hard to predict at this stage, due to lack of usage data. Recruitment and training of qualified personnel for the launch and recovery of drones has to be taken into account as an extra cost factor for Dr.One drones.
In terms of size, the districts in the UER are assumed to be representative for the average district in Ghana. Builsa district is assumed to be representative for all other districts in terms of the Use Case scenarios. Linear scaling of the assumed savings of US$ 4,129 per drone per year results in total savings of US$ 412,900 for the whole of Ghana. Initial procurement costs for these 100 drones (US$ 5,000 each, including the rechargeable battery pack) would be $500,000. Hence, expected return on investment in these drones would take slightly more than one year. The resulting 50,000 flights per year, saving US$ 8.00 each, would serve a 20 million population with an initial investment of only 2.5 US$ cents per person of this population and with considerable health care effects, potentially saving thousands of lives.
Introduction of larger numbers of drones for transportation of health commodities in Ghana provides increasingly larger marginal cost savings per drone. Apart from the cost savings in transportation, which are relatively tractable, there are health care benefits that are at least as important, if not more important, but that we were not able (and did not attempt) to quantify within the current study. However, it must be realized that the cost savings associated with such health care benefits are more than substantial.