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Africa’s First Drones Testing Corridor in Malawi
The corridor is the first in Africa with a focus on humanitarian and development use, said UNICEF.
It’s designed to provide a controlled platform for the private sector, universities and other partners to explore how UAVs can be used to help deliver services that will benefit communities.
Malawi Minister of Transport and Public Works, Jappie Mhango explained:
“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. We have already used drones as part of our flood response and we can see the potential for further uses, such as transportation of medical supplies, which could transform lives in remote rural communities.”
UNICEF said it is working with a number of governments and private sector partners around the world to explore how UAVs can be used in low-income countries. The projects have a strict set of innovation principles, with a focus on open source and user-centred design.
UNICEF Malawi representative Johannes Wedenig commented:
“Malawi has limited road access to rural areas even at the best of times, and after a flash flood earth roads can turn to rivers, completely cutting off affected communities. With UAVs, we can easily fly over the affected area and see clearly what the impact has been on the ground. This is cheaper and better resolution than satellite images.”
The air corridor details were determined in consultation with the Malawi Department of Civil Aviation and in line with the government’s new regulatory framework, noted UNICEF. The specifications include an altitude limit of 400 m (1,300 ft) above ground. All UAV projects tested in the corridor are to abide by the UNICEF innovation principles: open source, open data, sharable, designed for scale.