Africa mobilises trained drone students
Twenty-six youngsters from eight African countries are now able to construct and pilot drones, having recently graduated from the African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA) in Lilongwe, Malawi.
The graduates from Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Botswana, Nigeria, Tanzania and host Malawi will now be able to integrate drones into a supply chain system and analyse data.
They can also process drone images to, among other things, identify flood-prone areas and prevent cholera outbreaks by creating vulnerability maps of areas that lack basic hygiene infrastructure.
They can use drones for a wide range of applications that include delivering medical commodities, collecting aerial imagery for predictive analytics to identify mosquito breeding sites and help combat malaria.
Using Artificial Intelligence, the graduates will now also be able to classify aerial photographs of crops to improve food security and help prevent malnutrition.
A statement from UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) noted that Malawi and neighbouring countries lack qualified and skilled personnel needed to seize the opportunities offered by drone and data technology.
To address the demand for drone and data expertise in the region, UNICEF, together with its partners, Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), Virginia Tech and Daeyang University have collaborated to offer training.
MUST Vice Chancellor Prof. Address Malata said ADDA represents a major opportunity and a reminder to all that if given a chance to claim their space, the youth can significantly contribute to national and global development through science, technology, engineering and innovation.
“By participating in delivering some of the courses, MUST is already becoming a continental hub in drone related technologies,” said Malata.
UNICEF Malawi Representative Rudolf Schwenk said: “While there are a handful of local drone companies within Malawi, they have difficulties finding trained staff, to keep up with the growing demand by both national and international institutions. It therefore makes perfect sense to provide training and facilitate the development of local expertise.”