Alumna Profile

Aloft Over Africa

The World Bank’s Roza Vasileva coordinates a project helping to foster the continent’s drone ecosystem.

Xufeng and Stephen Han
African Drone Forum organizer Roza Vasileva (left) with Tanzanian drone pilot Bornlove Ntikha

If Africa is to develop, the World Bank estimates, it needs to invest $75 billion in transport infrastructure annually. Drones have the potential to bypass built-in mobility deficiencies and enable new applications, so the Bank has convened partners to organize the Africa Drone Forum (ADF).

“Almost 20 development partners and African grassroots organizations are involved, fostering a drone ecosystem in Africa,” says Roza Vasileva ’13 MPA/IR. As a data innovations consultant for the Bank, she coordinates ADF—a juggling act involving project management, budgeting, donor and partner coordination, and event logistics.

While at Maxwell, focusing on open data as a key to economic growth and good governance, Vasileva landed an internship, then job, at the World Bank. She worked on open government data projects in many countries before moving into her current duties.

The ADF symposium occurred in February, in Kigali, Rwanda, followed by drone flying competitions at Lake Kivu—all organized by Vasileva and her team. Activities ranged from policy discussions to live drone demonstrations. The bamboo drone above, for example, was flown by a Tanzanian team for an audience of civil aviation authorities from 26 African countries, who discussed harmonizing drone regulations across Africa. “It serves a Maxwell-nurtured idea that digital technologies provide a range of tools for countries with emerging economies to boost growth,” Vasileva says. “I’m passionate about this topic.”