Drones help ZIMRA combat smuggling

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) says there is significant progress in reducing smuggling through undesignated entry points using drone technology.

ZIMRA introduced the drones in January 2024, with a pilot project launched at the Beitbridge border post, a notoriously porous border. The technology aims to improve border surveillance and boost revenue collection.

Speaking at a Bulawayo Editors’ Breakfast co-hosted by ZIMRA and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), ZIMRA ICT Director Shami Moyo highlighted the effectiveness of drones.

“Drones are very effective,” Moyo said. “They have night vision, so they are not limited by daylight hours and can withstand adverse weather conditions.”

Moyo explained that drones have helped detect hitherto unknown smuggling methods.

“We have identified ‘abnormal charges,'” Moyo said. “We discovered that there were people hiding goods inside large machinery that evaded scanners. Drones allowed us to detect these anomalies.”

Drones are also being used to locate illegal entry points created by smugglers, especially in remote areas.

“Smugglers have created hidden crossing points in hard-to-reach areas,” Moyo said. “By launching drones, we can identify these places and address the problem.”

ZIMRA officials announced plans to expand drone technology to other ports of entry, with the Plumtree border post slated as the next location.

Smuggling along Zimbabwe’s borders has reportedly cost the nation millions of dollars a year.