Malawi has opened the first African Drone and Data Academy(ADDA). The project is in partnership with UNICEF, The Global Fund, the German Government as well as partners from Scotland and Sweden.
The program has been under testing in the country since 2017. The drone testing and application work have included the delivery of medical supplies, emergency response work, crop monitoring, cholera mapping as well as integrating drones into national disaster response and monitoring.
UNICEF Malawi has developed a data intelligence node that integrates and analyses aerial and satellite imagery and other types of data for UNICEF’s programmes.
The academy will improve drone technology skills across Africa, beginning with Malawi and neighbouring countries.
The inaugural class of the ADDA comprises of 16 students from Malawi and 10 from across Africa. More than half of students (55 per cent) are women with undergraduate degrees in science, technology or engineering. The second ADDA will start its training mid-April 2020
It aims to promote the use of drones in programmes and services. Especially those that will impact the lives of children and young people. As well, it’s eyeing another partnership with Malawi University of Science and Technology. The program will offer students a free master’s degree program in drone technology by 2022.
“Humanitarian and development programme delivery in Africa and beyond can benefit significantly from the application of drone technology. The African Drone and Data Academy will be instrumental in equipping young people with the skills they need to use the technology to benefit children and their communities,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
The academy will develop expertise in the use of drones. This includes humanitarian, development and commercial purposes across the continent through a 12-week course. It plans to train approximately 150 students to build and pilot drones by 2021.
UNICEF’s partners will provide free tuition to the first cohort of 26 students from across Africa.
“In Malawi, we strongly believe that adopting modern technologies such as drones and advanced data analysis and management. The techniques will help us to serve our children better. We are proud to partner with UNICEF in such an exciting endeavour,”. said James Chakwera, Director of Malawi’s Department of Civil Aviation.