The Njala University administration has on Friday 6thSeptember 2019 signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation for the establishment of a drone corridor project.
The agreement witnessed by tribal authorities including land holding families of Kori Chiefdom shall remain in force for a period of ten years and the University among the express terms shall assign a certain portion of land on Njala Campus, authorize DSTI to operate a drone corridor in that land within the terms agreed until such a time at the expiration of the agreement, authorize DSTI the use of locations as drop-off locations exclusively for the purpose of operations relating to the drone corridor and to not materially interfere with the use of, by and operations and activities of the Drone Corridor.
Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI),on their part undertakes to assign whether absolutely or by way of security and whether in whole or in part license to other entities to conduct drone operations at the corridor in a manner that does not contravene the spirit of the agreement, to maintain the assigned area together with any improvements constructed or installed thereon, to comply with all applicable laws, ordinances and regulations but not limited to all applicable regulatory, environmental and safety requirements at DSTI’s sole cost and expense, to make the research and facilities open and accessible to the host institution free of charge to name but a few.
Ecosystem Manager, Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation (DSTI), Mamoud Javombosaid in an effort to catch up with other countries that have already arrived and are doing extremely well in terms of innovation, science and technology they have decided to leapfrog the country’s ICT potentials by introducing a National Drone Corridor which is akin to airport for drones and will be used like a landing site for drone operations in the country.
Leveraging the vast ICT potentials in Njala University, Mr. Javombo said in cascading this unique innovation, DSTI is using Njala University to serve as a hub for innovation in the provinces. He said they intentionally hosted the National Drone Corridor on Njala Campus in order to accord enviable opportunities to students to man and fly drones using 21stCentury drone technology. Similar sentiments were made by Madam Micheala George, Policy Head, DSTI and David Manley, DSTI’s Policy Analyst.
UNICEF representative, Andrew T. Sellu who also doubles as the UNICEF Chief of Field Officesaid UNICEF Sierra Leone is partnering with DSTI to launch the National Drone Corridor, the First in West Africa. With regulatory, infrastructures and technical inputs on testing multi-purpose drone prototypes which he said can perform both aerial imagery and cargo missions, the drone corridor will be used in supporting the Government’s Free Quality School Education Initiative, adding that the drones will augment and provide accurate data for science work around educational infrastructure, including accurately mapping schools, assess their status and identify their needs.
Deputy Vice Chancellor, Bo Campus, Dr. Saidu Charleyin his statement lauded DSTI for their immeasurable and tremendous assistance rendered to Njala University within a period of one year adding that the National Drone Corridor Project will to a colossal extent augment the University’s Feasibility making it more eminent in the country. The Drone Corridor he averred will help expedite the University’s deliverables in relation to research, healthcare facilities among others hence; they wholeheartedly embraced the innovation and pledged their unflinching support towards this novelty.
ICT Director in Njala University, Thomas Philip Songu said the drone corridor project is easily among the most important projects we are in the process of implementing, with immense potential for leveraging the relevance and integrity of our university. The project will enhance the University's feasibility more distinct noting that it will help expedite their deliverables in relation to research, teaching and community engagement. International health organisations, governments, major donors, non-governmental organisations and companies are increasingly looking to use cargo drones to improve public health services.
Paramount Chief Representative for Kori Chiefdom, Daniel Charley described the initiative as laudable and pledged on behalf of the land holding families of Kori Chiefdom to be of help to the project when the need arises.
The term drone originated from the military referring to any unmanned aerial vehicle with a free programme pact, basically no human control. Today the term has broadened to include anything from the highly sophisticated $100 Million GLOBAL HAWK TO $30 Mini QUADCOPTER.
While ground surveying is still a critical part of construction planning and monitoring, the use of drone data has become increasingly important.
Signing of a memorandum of Agreement between Njala University and DSTI witnessed by tribal authorities and pouring of libation formed high points of the official launch of the National Drone Corridor Project.