By Chimwemwe Gondwe
In a world where work efficiency and productivity is vital, unmanned aircrafts (drones) have become central to the functions of various businesses and governmental organizations.
Drone technology is proving to be beneficial in places where man cannot reach and is unable to perform in a timely and efficient manner.
This is why since 2020, the African Drone and Data Academy at MUST has been training drone specialists to meet the demand in this area.
On May 6, 2022, ADDA graduated its seventh cohort at a ceremony held at MUST campus in Thyolo.
In total, 16 students graduated, comprising 10 females and six males. The graduates came from Malawi (10), Zimbabwe (2), Nigeria (2), and one each from Ghana and Sudan.
Guest of honour and MUST Vice Chancellor, Professor Address Malata, was impressed by the projects the graduating students presented, saying they tackled real life challenges.
“The projects we have seen today have huge significance to Malawi and Africa as a whole because they are talking about issues of the economy, agriculture, geo-information systems and health, which are very important for the social economic development,” said Professor Malata.
“You are the future of Africa. Please when you go back, don’t just sit on that knowledge but make sure you utilize it to benefit your communities.”
The Vice Chancellor was also delighted that the programme has since inception enrolled females in large numbers.
Rachael Sibale, one of the female graduates, described the training as a wonderful experience where people from different countries share ideas.
“I thank ADDA for giving us this opportunity to learn about drone technology which is not a common topic and also a chance to share knowledge and skills with diverse people,” she said.
The academy was established in 2020 and is sponsored by Unicef but works with other partners like Virginia Tech, Furman University and MUST.
ADDA senior instructor, Ndapile Mkuwu said Unicef started supporting the drone and data technology in Malawi in 2017 through the Kasungu drone corridor.
“The corridor was established to provide a platform for different drone companies both local and international to come and test their flying skills. But they later discovered knowledge gaps in the drone technology which had to be addressed and this is what gave birth to ADDA,” she said.
So far, has 522 graduates across Africa from its five programmes and 70 percent of them are active in drone and data industry.