Keren Asaba - Uganda
African Drone and Data Academy Students
Keren, comes from a small family that lives in a small village called Kyenzige in Uganda. Typical of African villages, Kyenzige is poor and lacks a lot of basic services like clean water, electricity, road network and good health services.
Despite this, Keren grew up in a supportive environment, where her parents taught her the value of education and encouraged her love for science. Her father, who is a science teacher, always supported Keren’s dream of becoming an engineer and gave her extra lessons to make sure she achieved her dream. Years later, all this hard work paid off when Keren was selected to go and study for a degree in Petroleum Geoscience and Production at Makerere University.
Due to the scarcity of jobs, after graduation, she did a lot of odd jobs. Later on, she moved on to volunteer as an intern collecting Geographical Information Systems (GIS) data for the OpenStreetMap Uganda. Through Uganda Flying Labs, an affiliate to OpenStreetMap Uganda, she was collecting data using drones and analyzing this data using various software like Pix4D, Picterra, and GIS. This was her first encounter with drones and other high-tech equipment used in mapping.
Keren learned about the ADDA academy through a friend. “I applied for ADDA because I wanted to expand my knowledge and experience in drones and data analysis. I have learned how to build and fly drones. I have built an s500 (multirotor drone) and EcoSoar (fixed wing drone). Understanding the technology behind drones and how to control them during flight were two of the biggest highlights during my stay here. By the time I leave ADDA, I will be a qualified drone pilot, engineer and data analyst,” explains Keren.
Once she leaves the Academy, Keren hopes to continue working with drones. “I will save money from my first job to start my drone and data hub from where I will provide services like mapping, surveillance and monitoring and even explore the delivery of medicines to small hospitals in hard-to-reach areas. I also plan to venture into building drones using local materials. Locally-made drones will be cheaper than the imported ones. This will be my contribution to developing Uganda. There is also a lot of oil and gas explorations going on in my region (Hoima). The skills gained here will put me at a competitive advantage to work in that industry or even partner with them,” says Keren.
“All this training will mean nothing if I do not take it back to my village,” says Keren. Keren plans to go and map out her village. The data from the maps will assist organizations like UNICEF when they want to bring in aid or prepare for emergency relief activities. It will also be used by farmers to make informed decisions and help them improve their harvest. She also plans to use drones to map out flood-prone places in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, where she currently lives.