Malawi launches Africa’s first humanitarian drone testing corridor

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The Government of Malawi and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday launched an air corridor to test potential humanitarian use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones.

According to a press statement from UNICEF, the corridor is the first in Africa and one of the first globally with a focus on humanitarian and development use.

The trial is centred on Kasungu Aerodrome and is designed to provide a controlled platform for the private sector, universities and other partners.

Drones

Ready for use.

The main purpose of the test is to explore how drones can be used to help deliver services that will benefit communities.

“This humanitarian drone testing corridor can significantly improve our efficiency and ability to deliver services to the world’s most vulnerable children. “The success of these trials will depend on working in new ways with the private sector, government and local entrepreneurs and engineers who can ensure that technologies deliver appropriate solutions for the people who need them the most,” said UNICEF principal adviser on global innovation Christopher Fabian.

Speaking at the launch, Malawi’s minister of transport and public works, Jappie Mhango said Malawi once used drones as part of flood response.

Mhango added that he can see the potential for further uses, such as transportation of medical supplies, which could transform lives in remote rural communities.

“Malawi has over the years proved to be a leader in innovation and it is this openness to innovation that has led to the establishment of Africa’s first drones testing corridor here in Malawi,” said Mhango.

The Humanitarian UAV Testing Corridor will facilitate testing in three main areas which include: Imagery where they will be generating and analysing aerial images for development and during humanitarian crises, including for situation monitoring in floods and earthquakes.

The other area is connectivity which involves exploring the possibility for UAVs to extend Wi-Fi or cellphone signals across difficult terrain, particularly in emergencies.

Transport is the other area which involves delivery of small low weight supplies such as emergency medical supplies, vaccines and samples for laboratory diagnosis, including for HIV testing.

The UAV corridor will run for at least one year, until June 2018. Since the announcement in December 2016, 12 companies, universities and NGOs from around the world have applied to use the corridor.

The launch of the UAV testing corridor follows a pilot project in Malawi in March 2016 on the feasibility of using drones for the transportation of dried blood samples for early infant diagnosis of HIV.

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13 Comments

  1. Cost of the travel
    Yet we cant travel in minibus..
    Engine capacity we carry more by minibus but they refuse..
    And drone one paerson how malawian afford..
    How are they going to carry goods .
    You wanted to do this by dron imposible.stop giving us problem your service for ministers to carry there food to parliaments not for us.

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