Drone Camp: Zanzibar

The second Code For Africa Drone Camp was held on 12 May, 2017 at the Zanzibar Beach Resort in Tanzania. This Drone Camp was the first to be held under the banner of africanDRONE, a civic technology initiative spearheaded by Code for Africa News Fellow Johnny Miller, creator of the Unequal Scenes project and established drone journalist.

“We decided to have our drone camp at the same time as the ZanSEA conference to share resources and make sure everyone was in the same place at the same time”, Miller said. “ZanSEA is a big event focusing on the use of drones in mapping and monitoring on the island of Zanzibar, with huge institutional partners. We invited seven of the brightest, up-and-coming data journalists in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania to come and learn from us, pitch us their drone story ideas, and participate in the ZanSEA conference. africanDRONE’s camp is unique in that it couples a traditional technology conference with an grant to the winning journalists, with in-kind resources up to $10,000 available to the best story ideas.”

Freddie Mbuya, founder of Uhuru Labs and project lead for Rumani Huria

The journalists represented a who’s-who of the biggest names in media in East Africa, including the Nation, the Star, Azam Media, and Mwananchi to name a few. They were presented a variety of topics, including “What is drone journalism”, “How to manage your workflow”, “What are drones capable of”, and a variety of case studies in Kenya and Tanzania. Frederick Mbuya, drone expert and project lead on the World Bank-funded Rumani Huria (Open Map) project, spoke on the topic of open data and mapping for good, and Johnny Miller spoke about how Unequal Scenes has transformed the landscape for drone journalists in Africa.

“I knew that drones were powerful tools the minute I flew one for the first time”, Miller said. “And when I looked into the screen as I flew above Masiphumelele (the first location for Unequal Scenes) I thought, wow, this is going to be a very powerful image that people need to see.”

At the end of the drone camp the journalists had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the mentors, which included journalists from Code For Africa, and drone pilots from Kenya and Tanzania. They then took the advice given to them to craft a 5-minute story pitch, presenting their best drone journalism story ideas. The pitches reflected on the high degree of skill and experience present in the room, and perhaps unsurprisingly many focused on water issues.

Winning journalist Nuzulack Dausen, data editor for Mwananchi newspaper

At the end of the day, only one grand prize winner could be chosen, and the jury was unanimous in selecting Nuzulack Dausen for his story pitch on illegal river agriculture and sand mining in Dar es Salaam. For his winning idea, Nuzulack will win the drone piloting and backend support he needs to complete his story, and also a free trip to Cape Town to participate in Media Party Africa, a major open journalism conference hosted by Code For Africa on 19–21 October.