Malawi has opened the first drone and data academy in Africa, with classes launched on Tuesday in Lilongwe.
The African Drone and Data Academy (Adda) has been established with support from Unicef, and it will promote the use of drones to tackle various challenges in health, climate change, agriculture and development, among others.
Speaking in an interview after the launch, Unicef Malawi country representative Rudolf Schwenk said the academy will equip youths with essential skills.
“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,” he said.
In a report published on Unicef website, Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore says the drone academy is aimed at promoting the use of drones in programmes and services that will impact lives of children and young people.
She says: “Humanitarian and development programme delivery in Africa and beyond can benefit significantly from the application of drone technology.”
The report further quotes Department of Civil Aviation director James Chakwera as saying government is proud to partner with Unicef in the programme.
The inaugural class of the Adda includes 16 students from Malawi and 10 from across Africa, 55 percent of whom are women with undergraduate degrees in science, technology or engineering.
The second cohort will start its training mid-April 2020. The call for applications is open until January 26.
According to Unicef, the Adda curriculum has been developed in partnership with Virginia Tech of the United States of America–following its successful delivery of training workshops in Malawi since 2017. The course will combine theoretical and practical methodologies in making, testing and flying drones.
By 2022, the academy will run a tuition-free two-year master’s degree programme in drone technology, in conjunction with Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must). Unicef Malawi has established Adda with initial support from The Global Fund, the German Government as well as partners from Scotland and Sweden.