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UNICEF Launches First African Drone Academy In Malawi

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) sponsored Africa’s first-ever drone academy in Malawi called African Drone and Data Academy. According to Voice of America, this academy will help push the improvement of drone technology in Malawi and then Africa as a whole.


One of the most popular drone companies in Africa is arguably Drone Africa. However, its focus is mainly designing civil drones that can withstand harsh conditions in the Sahel regions.


Also, Tanzanian farmers revealed that drones were helpful in fighting the menace of mosquitoes. We reported about tests conducted in Mauritania to check how drones help control swarms of pest locusts. Thus, showing that drone technology is not new in Africa.


Yet, studies in this important innovation have not been well invested in until now. The African Drone and Data Academy will train about 150 students in 2020, its first year.


Already, there are 26 students from African countries in the first three-month course at the academy. They are learning to construct and fly drones. One of the students, Karen Asaba from Uganda said:


“Right now, we are learning how to assemble a drone from the start, considering its weight, considering the central gravity, considering the GPS and all the electronics that are involved in making the drone.”


UNICEF first Africa drone academy
Karen Asaba, a student at African Drone and Data Academy. Photo: VoA.
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UNICEF believes that the academy as well as already operational drone activities in Malawi since 2016, will make the devices useful for development. It also mentioned their humanitarian uses as well.


Rudolf Schwenk, UNICEF’s Malawian representative also mentioned other uses. He said:


“For example, transporting medical supplies to remote areas or transporting samples very fast, where it will take a lot of time to transport them.


We have also worked on emergency preparedness and response because with data and drone imagery, you can see where flooding will happen.” 


UNICEF first Africa drone academy
Students at the African Drone and Data Academy. Photo: VoA.


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University developed the courses used in the academy. Kevin Kochersberger, an associate professor at Virginia Tech, expounded on the courses when talking with VoA.


“We go through three modules in this program. They have gone [through] drone logistics, drone technologies so they become very functional in drone[s] – not only being pilots, but they operate and maintain the drones as well.”


By March, the first set of graduates will likely finish their courses at the African Drone and Data Academy.


They also get a chance to further their studies as it plans to partner with Malawi University of Science and Technology for a free master’s degree program in drone technology by 2022.


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Onwuasoanya Obinna

A reader of books and stringer of words. Passionate about Science and Tech. When not writing or reading he is surfing the web and Tweeting.

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