International Consultant: Drone Specialist

UN Children's Fund, Malawi

Skill Required:, Project/ Programme Management
Preferred Experience: 
3 to 10 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 
21st August, 2018

Job Description

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

For every child, a new idea

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as 'drones', Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and unmanned aerails systems (UAS) are increasingly being deployed for humanitarian and development purposes in Malawi. UNICEF has led efforts in piloting and using the various applications of drones, including launching in collaboration with the Government of Malawi the first humanitarian drone testing corridor (, transporting health supplies and medical equipment, monitoring infrastructure programmes, combining drone-acquired imagery with Artificial Intelligence for emergency response, supporting development of the national regulatory framework and a cadre of drone pilots, and support the government on the integration of drones into the national disaster preparedness and response framework.

As UNICEF scales up the application of drones to enhance children's lives, we recognize the need to look into solutions that enable developing countries like Malawi to sustain the operations of such technology. Our understanding of innovation goes beyond the notion of merely piloting and imposing technology advances, instead we choose to have a systematic approach on expanding and maintaining tested technologies that address humanitarian challenges on a larger scale. These can range from building the local capacity of government, students, and young entrepreneurs, or integrating drones to strengthen health supply chain systems, among others. To drive the vision of a sustainable drone ecosystem for development and humanitarian purposes in Malawi, UNICEF is seeking a technical project coordinator on drones on a temporary assignment.

How can you make a difference?

Under the guidance of the Malawi Country Representative, and in close collaboration with UNICEF's Office of Innovation, the Drone Specialist will be responsible for coordinating all drone related activities in Malawi. As technical lead the Drone Specialist will also be providing technical inputs, supporting partnerships, and coordinating with cross-cutting stakeholders on the operationalization of the Drone Corridor, launch of the African Drone Academy, and supporting the growth of the in-country drone ecosystem. This position will be primarily based in Malawi with occasional travels outside Malawi. Key expected results include:

  • Assist in coordinating all drone related activities in the Malawi Country Office (20%)
  • Support the coordination of all drone related activities with the Malawi Country Office to ensure consistency, coherence and continuous information flows across the sector.
  • Act as convener and facilitator for the Drone Task Force in the Malawi CO which is chaired by the Country Representative.
  • Provide technical support and guidance to the broader UNICEF Malawi drone portfolio
  • Administration of the Drone Testing Corridor 30%)
  • Support the engagement of industry (both startups and more established players) in both developed and developing countries, and facilitate the process of outreach and selection of companies that use the corridor, based on established selection criteria and in close collaboration with UNICEF Malawi Country Office, UNICEF New York and the Government of Malawi
  • Provide overall logistic coordination and implement protocols (i.e. for partners to come to Malawi, test their technology, engage in skills transfer and training of Malawian engineers, and publish open results of tests).
  • Facilitate relationships and partnerships between the Government of Malawi, UNICEF and relevant industry partners, in order to maintain and enhance the drone corridor.
  • Support participation, testing and preparation of workshops for start-ups from the Office of Innovation Venture Fund cohort of companies
  • Assist in establishling, together with geo-data hub manager, a standardized data collection strategy for all drone-related data collected from participating drone corridor companies

Project Implementation and Local Capacity Building (40%)

  • Plan and coordinate the kickoff of the African Drone & Data Academy (ADDA), which supports local skills development and business entrepreneurship on drone, aviation and geo-spatial technologies, including practical hands-on experience.
  • Monitor the ADDA pilot, collect student feedback and liaise with the university responsible for developing and adapting course curricula according to lessons learned, to facilitate the long-term establishment of the education & research center.
  • Provide government authorities with technical support and guidance on emerging hardware and technologies linked to UAVs, including unmanned air traffic management (UTM) system.

Input into the Drone Ecosystem (10%)

  • Facilitate consultations with government and other stakeholders, for developing a five-year strategy that sustainably scales and systematically integrates the cross-cutting use of drones into development and humanitarian response, through financial viable mechanisms, strategic partnerships and targeted, national investment in technology, infrastructure and capacity development.
  • Assist in identifying opportunities for resource mobilization and new partnerships to enable the establishment of a country-wide, multi-purpose drone network that can deliver on various uses of drones for cargo, imagery, connectivity, etc..
  • Contribute to the documentation and dissemination of learnings and best practices to ensure effective sharing and generation of knowledge and research on drone-related work in UNICEF Malawi and beyond. By doing so work closely with the Office of Innovation to ensure the dissemination of lessons learned.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have

  • A university degree in one of the following fields is required: Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Aeronautics, Computer Science, Technology Management, Business Management, Public Administration or other technically relevant disciplines.
  • An advanced university degree in the above fields will be an advantage.
  • Minimum of 3 years of progressively responsible professional experience in project management, particularly in testing, implementing and scaling emerging technologies or new hardware is required.
  • Knowledge of technical aspects in aviation, airspace regulations or experience working with UAVs is essential. Experience in the drone industry is an asset.
  • Proven ability to manage relationships with partners, including government ministries, universities, intellectual leaders, UN organizations, NGOs and the private sector.
  • Work experience in teaching, skills-training or capacity building, or background experience with academia and research is an asset.
  • Experience working in the private sector or managing corporate partnerships is preferred.
  • Experience in start-up companies/organizations and entrepreneurial failures are considered valuable.
  • International and developing country work experience is an asset.
  • Fluency in English is required.

Administrative issues

The assignment will be carried out in Lilongwe, Malawi and will include travel within and outside Malawi.

The consultant is expected to provide her/his own computer and transport to and from the UNICEF Lilongwe office when in Lilongwe.


  • The candidate selected will be governed by and subject to UNICEF's General Terms and Conditions for individual contracts.
  • The contractor will be based in Lilongwe, Malawi.
  • UNICEF will cover field travel expenses, including DSA whilst in country, in accordance with UNICEF's rules and tariffs on a reimbursement basis.
  • Under the consultancy agreements, a month is defined as 21 working days, and fees are prorated accordingly. The Consultant is not paid for weekends or public holidays
  • The consultant is not entitled to payment of overtime. All remuneration must be within the contract agreement.
  • UNICEF will provide office space when needed and access to other office equipment as necessary. Consultant must provide their own laptop.
  • No contract may commence unless the contract is signed by both UNICEF and the consultant.
  • Both the parties can terminate the contact with one month written notice starting on the first day of the month, however, in case of poor performance the contract can be terminated with immediate effect.
  • As per UNICEF DFAM policy, payment is made against approved deliverables. No advance payment is allowed unless in exceptional circumstances against bank guarantee, subject to a maximum of 30 per cent of the total contract value in cases where advance purchases, for example for supplies or travel, may be necessary.


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