A person holding a drone.
© Wingcopter


Malawi: the dream job of a drone pilot

The shortest way is by air. A drone academy is training pilots – creating jobs and fast supply chains.

If a hospital needs medicines, things sometimes have to move fast. In remote regions of Malawi, urgent medicines are flown in by drone, because roads are often not passable and journeys by land take too long. The drones collect data en route that can be used in the agricultural sector too, for example to plan sowing. This makes supply chains robust and creates jobs for drone pilots and data analysts.

Air transport is becoming increasingly important, as evidenced by the fact that more than 2,000 supply flights per drone have taken place. Over two tonnes of medical goods have already been delivered by air. One of those steering the drones is Phyllis Chibisa, who trained to be a drone pilot at the Drone and Data Academy. She was one of 450 young men and women from Malawi who learned how drones work at the academy. At the end of her training, she obtained her pilot’s licence. She and the other graduates are in great demand on the labour market, with 90 per cent of them finding work straightaway. Chibisa now works for the aviation company Wingcopter, where she puts her training to good use: ‘Now I am working to improve medical care in remote regions.’

Combining digital progress and training

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH supports the ‘Data and Drone Academy’ in Malawi, which is run by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is coordinating the drone network and advising Malawi’s Government on taking further steps to expand air transport. The aim is to establish faster supply chains to reach rural areas and in doing so to promote innovative young enterprises. The data collected by the drones is also used to establish whether the weather conditions are conducive to sowing and how the climate is changing. Drone technology is thus boosting the country’s technical and agricultural development. ‘I’m grateful that I can be a role model for lots of people in Malawi,’ Chibisa remarked. ‘It inspires women in particular to enter the world of technology.’

A person standing in front of a drone.

Almost 30 health centres in Malawi are benefiting from the supply flights, thus guaranteeing medical care in the districts, which are home to more than 750,000 people. The model is catching on elsewhere, too, and is currently being rolled out in Niger and Ethiopia, where training academies are also to be set up in the future.

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