Global Robotics Firm Chooses Rwanda As A Gateway To Africa

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Fabrice Goffin (2nd left) waves a Rwandan flag as he holds one of the robots produced by his company, ZoraBots, during Rwanda Day in Bonn, Germany over the weekend. / Courtesy

By James Karuhanga

When Fabrice Goffin, the Belgian owner of a company specializing in new robotics solutions, attended the just-concluded edition of Rwanda Day in Bonn, Germany, he had just a little idea of how patriotic Rwandans are.

The ex-director of the World Trade Center in Antwerp, Belgium had three months ago met Amb. Amandin Rugira, the Rwandan envoy to Belgium.

“I was interested to introduce my company in Africa but didn’t know if it would be possible,” he said.

The envoy then invited him to the embassy where he demonstrated what his robot can do.

Goffin’s company, ZoraBots, does business with countries from Asia, Europe, North America, and South America but not in Africa.

But on Saturday when he attended Rwanda Day, Goffin was inspired by the positive energy Rwandans demonstrated in their attempt to find solutions to the issues challenging their country’s development.

He promised to visit Rwanda in November. When he visits, Goffin will be exploring options for how to launch operations in Rwanda.

“My wish is to introduce robotics in Africa through Rwanda,” he said. “ZoraBots Rwanda would be the first company to offer robots to serve humans in Africa.”

It could be that there is service robotics in countries such as South Africa, he noted.

But they are not to the extent of his company’s services where much is based on engineering and there are operational robots in different segments of daily life; hospitals, retailers, hotels, among others.

“ZoraBots is unique in the world when it comes to doing that. We even have the Japanese state as (our) customers. Unlike all the other robots that we know, a service robot is like a humanoid robot that serves humans” he explained.

It can be used in shops, relay information or in hospitals to motivate children to do exercises and in schools to teach programming.

Even drones such as the ones Rwanda uses to deliver blood, Goffin noted are not service robots in his view.

His idea of service robots is the ones that are “humanoid looking” with Artificial Intelligence (AI) or machine intelligence cable of detecting humans and talking with them or promote products.

“Service robots are providing services as humans do but by taking over repetitive tasks, they can assist humans and give them more time to do more important things.”

The idea behind his Rwanda project, he said, is to make it the African headquarters for ZoraBots operations.

“We are going to seek a business developer in order to introduce what the robots can do in hospitals, schools, and retail shops. Not to take jobs away from people but to assist humans in repetitive tasks and to help children learn about programming. This is the future for children,” Goffin said…Read more>>

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