Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), have been used for more than three decades, but in the last few years drones are increasingly being developed and used for commercial purposes.

But while inventors and entrepreneurs in Western countries struggle with strict regulations, many African countries are proving very innovative and accepting in terms of drone usage across industries.

From Kigali to Khartoum, pioneers are using drones to tackle some of the continent’s current challenges.

In Rwanda, drones deliver blood to almost half of the country’s blood transfusion centres. In Malawi, UAVs deliver HIV test kits to and from remote parts of the country. Elsewhere, drones are used to combat poaching, track illegal maritime activities and oil spills, or to augment safaris.

Al Jazeera spoke to some of Africa’s drone pioneers to find out how gaining a bird’s-eye view is helping to shape the future – and uncover the past – of some of the continents 1.2 billion people.