William Elong is a Cameroonian tech entrepreneur credited with launching the first drone made in Cameroon. Elong achieved this milestone at the age of 26. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business at 18 and an MBA in Economic Intelligence in Paris at age 20 before becoming the founder of Will&Brothers, an IT innovation and intelligence startup with its main project called Drone Africa.
The young genius told Forbes in 2016 that his drone project seeks to promote civil drones as a business service and civil defense tools in Cameroon against terrorism. He said that his drones are also used in mapping, agriculture, media coverage and tourism.
“Our countries spend huge sums of money on contracting satellite imagery companies to address their geographical mapping needs,” Elong told Africa Renewal after unveiling the first-ever drone made in Cameroon in 2018. “Using drones is much cheaper, cost-effective and more practical.”
In addition, Elong noted that African countries usually depend on western firms to obtain aerial images at exorbitant prices. Therefore, going into drone manufacturing was not only to provide a local solution but to also provide one at a cheaper cost.
“African countries depend upon some service providers for aerial images. The latter are sold at prices that challenge the imagination, so we believe that drones are a simpler solution to meet this need, and many others, whether security or tourism,” Elong told Africa News Agency.
Offering drone services to companies and government organizations in Cameroon, he raised some $200,000 to advance his project in 2015. Elong started his venture with four employees and by 2017, he had grown his workforce to 22 spread over two continents. Some were working in the Douala headquarters while others operated from Germany, France and Côte d’Ivoire.
“We still face technical challenges so the future of our company depends very much on R&D. No one is training us; we taught ourselves on the Web, so it might take time. But today we are able to do our own deep learning algorithms for drone image analysis,” he told Futuramobility in 2018.
In the first year of operation, Drone Africa made zero profit. In 2016, it made a US$10,000 profit and by 2018, its annual turnover was upwards of US$200,000.
Born in Ebone, Moungo Division of the Littoral Region in Cameroon, Elong became the youngest ever graduate of the Economic Warfare School in Paris at age 20. He worked for groups such as the Thales and Oracle after completing his studies in 2013. He founded Will&Brothers Consulting, then Drone Africa in July 2015 when he returned to Cameroon.
credit – face2faceafrica.com