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Drone genius wins five awards worldwide

News   Hazviperi Mbizi   March 26, 2019
PIC: Kaliati holding one of his drones
A Bachelor of Science in Information Technology graduate from the Malawi Polytechnic Dumisani Kaliati, has won five awards world-wide for his project called fixed wing un manned autonomous drones in a period of two years.

These drones are used in the rural areas to deliver medical facilities between patients and hospitals along the largest drone corridor of Kasungu in Malawi, as discovered by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency (UNICEF).

Kaliati started this project after identifying a problem faced by people in the rural areas who travel long distances to get medical supplies.

“This motivated me to come up with an innovation of drone making so that it could help reduce the problem since drones are faster and effective,” he explained.

Through a University entrepreneurship organization called ENACTIM, Kaliati had a chance to meet students from Virginia Tech University who introduced him to their department of mechanical engineering, unmanned systems lab.

“In collaboration with the Virginia Tech and UNICEF officials we managed to build five drones in the drone corridor of Kasungu,” Kaliat explained.

Through research they discovered that to transport medical facilities it takes a minimum of 11days while with locally constructed autonomous drones which can just be given coordinates to where you want it to go, can only take hours.

Kaliati’s company Micromek received the first award of $5500 from Northwestern University in the USA in 2018, during his Mandela Washington fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), that was started  by Barack Obama which looks at the most influential young change makers from Africa. He got this award for coming second out the 25 African competitors. 

In December 2018, Dumisani was one of the 100 next African Startups who were selected by the government of Egypt through International Finance Corporation (IFC) to attend a business leadership course and showcase his project. All the logistics were paid for by the Egyptian government.

Later, in January 2019 Kaliati was selected for the Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator by the Bill and Melinda gates foundation which was introduced at the United Nations. This foundation aimed at supporting young data innovators in Africa.

“26 youths have been selected across the world; we had an orientation in Alusha Tanzania where I was presented with an award of $30000. I intend to utilize this award to run a pilot that will generate evidence based data to prove that indeed we can use drones to deliver health facilities,” he explained.

In addition, The Mandela Washington fellowship, through the USA  department Bureau of Educational and cultural affairs have awarded Micromek a $5000 grant which is called a reciprocal exchange component. 

It is a competitive grant to invite over; American professionals to come and help in scaling up the project since currently the drones are only able to carry 0.4 to 0.5kg lightweight medical supplies. Kaliati in collaboration with the local US embassy is inviting over professionals from the Virginia Tech University from June 3 to 29th 2019 who will train his team and a selected students from the Malawi Universities in a new low cost aircraft design made from 3D printed parts and foam board. 

“I have received yet another award from United States African Development Fund (USADF) business plan competition for the YALI MWF fellows where they were looking for 30 business ideas. I was awarded $10,000 within a course of one year,” Kaliati added.

The recent award was won from Total Malawi Start Up of the  year award which is implemented in 50 African Countries. They were looking for business ideas which have a social impact. 

“We presented our ideas in front of the jury, from the 100 applicants to the final 15 I came third where I was presented with an award of 4.2million kwacha,” Kaliati concluded.

By the end of this year he plans to build ten low cost autonomous  fixed wing unmanned drones locally produced  in Malawi from 3D printed parts and foam board.

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