We are all young African entrepreneurs. We believe in the potentials of our continent and its people. Most of us are digital natives, and those who are not, rely on those who are to meet the challenges of this accelerating transformation of the way enterprises are run, services are offered and business is done. We believe that digitisation will help transform agriculture and other sectors, and fundamentally the way we work, interact, and learn. Our Vision is an Africa which is ‘attractive’, ‘transparent’ and ‘worth investing in’. Fundamentally #TheAfricaWeWant, harbouring and expressing #TheTalentWeHave.
In June 2018, we, executives from 11 African startups met in Accra, Ghana during an ‘experience capitalisation workshop’ organised by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA). Purpose of the gathering was to analyse the experience we gained over a period of more than a year in launching drone operations in a series of African countries. We soon realised the extensive and diverse experiences each of us was harbouring in the digitisation domain, from the development and deployment of a range of mobile applications to remote sensed imagery acquired via both satellite or unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Some of us featured experiences in the use of digital solutions to support conservation efforts in protected areas, others to help enterprises monitor infrastructure, real estate development, and oil and gas operations.
The idea to form a pan-African industry association of digital operators offering among others UAS-based services, was launched by Dr Abdelaziz Lawani, CEO of Global Partners in Benin, and Assistant Professor, Eastern Kentucky University in the USA. Participants in the workshop endorsed the proposal, and decided to group and form a body where individual enterprise assets could coalesce and result in powerful synergies, with the shared objective of accelerating the digital transformation of Africa.
In October 2019, Africa Goes Digital Inc was Incorporated as a non-profit corporation in Delaware, USA.
Meet the Board Members
Dr Abdelaziz Lawani
Fulbright Scholar and Norman Borlaug Fellow, Dr. Abdelaziz Lawani is an Assistant Professor at Eastern Kentucky University and the founder of Global Partners a startup based in Benin. His education and research lie at the interaction of agriculture and the digital economy. Dr. Lawani has a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Kentucky and a Master of Science in Economics from North Carolina State University. He is originally from Benin where he also graduated with a Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics, Development, and Rural Sociology in 2008 and a Bachelor in Agronomy in 2006. During his graduate studies, he also completed several courses in computer science and in geography.
Dr. Lawani’s research activities span a range of topics in Agribusiness, Development & Environmental Economics, and Artificial Intelligence. His training gives him a strong multidisciplinary background that has allowed him to work for more than ten years in developing countries. His current research uses machine learning, remote sensing (UAS and satellite data), and social networks to evaluate public policies and examine farmers decision-making in developing countries and in the U.S.
Besides his research works, Dr. Lawani is also a social entrepreneur. He is always eager to translate his researches into concrete solutions for development. He strongly believes that the digital economy will re-shape the world as we know it today and has the potential to speed the development process of developing countries if investments are made to reduce the digital divide. This belief led him to found Global Partners, a startup that provides drones solutions for agriculture, land use planning, surveillance, and biodiversity conservation. The social impact of his works led him to feature among the 35 under 35 young innovators in francophone countries in 2016 and the Clinton Foundation honour roll in 2017.
Dr. Lawani brings nearly 12 years of experience and established track records in developing and managing ICTs in agriculture projects in Africa. He also brings his multidisciplinary background as a researcher, his vision, and enthusiasm to Africa Goes Digital.
Ingabire Muziga Mamy
Passionate about improving lives, Ingabire is a resourceful professional with extensive experience in development and management of projects and programs aiming at improving lives and transforming futures. She has performed a wide range of projects within both the public and the private sectors, for global corporations as well as International agencies.
Ingabire Mamy is the Managing Director of Charis Unmanned Aerial Solutions, a fast-developing start-up founded by young Rwandan entrepreneurs. It is a first licensed drone operator in Rwanda. She has led several UAS based projects in agriculture, environmental, construction and in other sectors that has created new knowledge, education and employment opportunities for the youth. Mamy also plays a key role as an accountable manager in maintaining safety standards required by regulations governing the use of UAS. She has a corporate authority to ensure that all operations and maintenance system activities be financed and carried to the standard required.
Ingabire Mamy holds a Bachelor Degree in Applied Life Sciences with a Major in Biotechnology from Midrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ingabire Mamy has also completed courses in Project Management and Virtual program of Leadership and Management.
Hamza Rkha Chaham
Hamza is the co-founder of SOWIT, a start-up providing decision support systems to African farmers. He is a graduate of HEC Paris (Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales) and also studied at The University of Texas at Austin in the USA and The University of Witwatersrand at Johannesburg in South Africa. He started his career at Danone Company in New York as a Commodity Buyer before joining Parrot-AIRINOV as an International Business Developer. At Parrot-AIRINOV, Hamza focused on internationalising the start-up activities, particularly the Unmanned Aerial systems (UAS) services for large African agribusinesses including cooperatives and industrial producers. He finally took charge of Parrot-AIRINOV International Business Development and expanded the start-up activity in 16 European, African and Asian countries.
In 2017, Hamza left Parrot-AIRINOV to co-found SOWIT, a company incorporated in France and soon in Morocco, to provide key agronomic insights to farmers and enable them to optimise crucial operations such as fertilisation or harvest. Hamza acts as UAS business expert advising CTA in the framework of its project known as “Transforming African Agriculture: Eyes in The Sky, Smart Techs on The Ground”. Hamza is co-author of the landmark report published by the African Union entitled “Drones on the horizon: Transforming Africa’s Agriculture”. The report forms the basis upon which the AU Executive Council issued the Decision EX. CL/Dec. 986-1007 (XXXII), recommending all Member States harness the opportunities offered by drones for precision agriculture.
Hamza has global exposure to the UAS service industry and closely follows technological developments which could specifically benefit small scale farmers in developing countries.
Adviser to the Board
Giacomo is Senior Programme Coordinator ICTs at the Technical Centre for Agricultural & Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) in Wageningen, Netherlands. He has 36 years of professional experience in Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean where he worked for various international organisations including FAO and the Asian Development Bank and on projects funded by the Italian Aid to Development and the European Commission. He holds a degree in agricultural sciences from the State University of Milan, Italy.
At present he is member of the ICT for Agriculture (ICT4Ag) team at CTA and is coordinating a stream of activities related to the deployment of drone technology in agriculture including influencing drone governance’s.
Giacomo has been leading Web 2.0 and Social Media capacity building activities at CTA and earned worldwide recognition for his work as recipient of the 2013 WSIS Project Prize in the category E-Agriculture. He also leads activities in the domain of participatory GIS where he animates a large community of practice. One of his projects earned CTA the 2007 World Summit Award in the category e-culture.
In collaboration with other members of the ICT4Ag team at CTA, Giacomo animates thematic Communities of Practice which underpin CTA’s work on ICTs and technology innovation.
Giacomo is co-author of the landmark report published by the African Union entitled “Drones on the horizon: Transforming Africa’s Agriculture”. The report forms the basis upon which the AU Executive Council issued the Decision EX. CL/Dec. 986-1007 (XXXII), recommending all Member States harness the opportunities offered by drones for precision agriculture.