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 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 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.
Starting in 2019, with support provided by both CTA and EY Ripples Projects, a smaller group of us started working on the formal establishment of the body. Work is still in progress. As of the end of March 2019 we are present in 19 African countries and have 35 members, all offering UAS-based services.
Meet the Founding 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.
Frederick Arthur Onyango
Fredrick is the co-founder and CEO of Maptech Consultants Limited, a Kenyan start-up specialising in service provision in GIS mapping, topographical surveys, aerial surveys, remote sensing and now UAS-based advisory services to the African farmers.
With over 6 years working experience in the field of Geospatial Engineering, he holds a BSc. Degree in Geospatial Engineering from the University of Nairobi and an MSc. degree in Geoinformatics from the University of Twente in the Netherlands.
His company won an Expression of Interest to partner with CTA on the “Eyes in the sky, smart tech on the ground” project.
He brings on board a wealth of experience in drone data collection for mapping, post-processing using state-of-the-art software and data analysis.
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.
Malick graduated in Applied Physics and Engineering from the renowned Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, France. He later completed this training with a master’s degree in environment at the Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar. It has also completed this initial training with a large number of specific short-term training courses in remote sensing, acquisition of aerial images, cartography in the field of risks and disasters.
Since the beginning of his career, Malick has devoted himself to the use of new GIS mapping technologies, remote sensing and satellite imagery, databases for the management of natural resources and disasters in Senegal and in the sub-region. He worked for more than 10 years for the Center de Suivi Ecologique, which is one of the few African organisations accredited to apply for funding from the Green Climate Fund, which is a certain guarantee of competence. He participated in or piloted most of the risk mapping services.
Convinced that Africa will only be able to develop through youth entrepreneurship, Malick creates in 2016 GeoRisk Afric, a company specialised on geographic information systems, disaster risk management, environment impact assessment, and decision support services on agriculture, health, coastal erosion, land cover land use by using Unmaned Aerial Services (UAS).
Pioneer in UAS, GeoRisk Afric is the first company authorised by the Civil Aviation Authority to use drones in Senegal. For its leadership, Malick is leading since January 2019 the “Association des professionnels et Amateurs de Drones, APAD” which will contribute of the consolidation of Africa Goes Digital.
G. Francis Kabore
A Geographic Information System (GIS) engineer, G. Francis Kabore is the general manager of Cargitech Sarl, a start-up based in Burkina Faso and specialized in geomatics.
Mr. Kabore brilliantly follows his passion for geospatial analysis and completed a bachelor’s degree in Topography, GIS, and Remote Sensing at the International Institute of Water and the Environment thanks to a scholarship from the European Union. He then pursues his studies in engineering at the University of Thiès in Senegal. There he honed his skills as a land surveyor and conducted his research on the use of drones in cartography. Mr. Kabore is among the first specialists in cadastral survey trained in Senegal to conduct the cartography of cities in Africa.
Combining these two skills, he successfully designed hi engineering project on the “Use of drones for photogrammetric and topographic surveys: Application in the Municipality of Diamniadio in Senegal. “
Back in Burkina Faso, Mr. Kabore embarks on a venture that associates geomatics and agriculture. In 2017, he founded Cargitech Sarl a startup that ambitions using new technologies such as drones to collect geographic data and derive high-end products for a variety of users.
Thanks to a partnership with the Centre for Agricultural and Rural Technical Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) on the project “Transforming African Agriculture: Eyes in The Sky, Smart Techs on The Ground”, Cargitech Sarl has expanded its drone-based services based.
Mr. Kabore brings to Africa Goes Digital a solid experience in geomatics, remote sensing and cadastral survey. He sees geomatics as an essential tool that will contribute to the sustainable development goals and wants to popularise training in topography and geodesy and the development of digital solutions for small scale farmers.
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.