LILONGWE, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- UNICEF has opened the first African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA) in Malawi to equip young people with the skills they need to use the technology to benefit children and their communities.
The academy, which opened Monday in Malawi capital, Lilongwe, was an initiative aimed at building on the work of Africa's first humanitarian corridor launched in Malawi in 2017. It will develop expertise in the use of drones for humanitarian, development and commercial purposes across the continent, according to a statement by the UN agency.
The statement quotes UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, as saying the "humanitarian and development programme delivery in Africa and beyond can benefit significantly from the application of drone technology".
According to the statement, ADDA plans to train approximately 150 students to build and pilot drones by 2021 and funding from UNICEF's partners will provide free tuition to the first cohort of 26 students from Malawi and across Africa.
According to the statement, the curriculum at the academy has been developed in partnership with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) 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.
UNICEF Malawi, the Government of Malawi and other partners began testing the use of drones in development and humanitarian contexts with the launch of a humanitarian drone testing corridor in Malawi's central region district of Kasungu in 2017.
Since then, drone testing and application work has included delivery of medical supplies, emergency response work, crop monitoring, cholera mapping as well as integrating drones into national disaster response and monitoring.