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.
Fredrick Onyango is the CEO and Co-founder of Maptech Consultants Limited, a surveying and mapping company based in Nairobi, Kenya. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geospatial Engineering which he attained from the University of Nairobi in Nairobi, Kenya. He also holds a Master of Science Degree in Geoinformatics which he attained from the University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands. It is here where he developed a passion in the use of drones for surveying and mapping and published his thesis entitled, “Accurate Estimation of Orientation Parameters of UAV Images Through Image Registration with Aerial Oblique Imagery”.
Fredrick has worked for both the private and public sectors. In 2012 he worked with Geomaps Africa as a Geomatic Engineer. Here he got experience in the use of modern surveying equipment and worked on aerial mapping projects throughout the country. In 2013 he became the first GIS Analyst for a water company in Kisumu, Kenya where he developed a geodatabase that captured the water utility assets for asset management. He also developed a hydraulic model used to simulate the water pipeline network. He is currently a Tutorial Fellow at the Technical University of Kenya where he gives lectures, supervises student projects and does research work. His area of specialisation is in UAV photogrammetry.
In May 2018, Maptech Consultants Limited was proud to win an Expression of Interest with CTA for the project “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture: Eyes in The Sky, Smart Techs on The Ground”. This project enabled Fredrick to gain experience in the use of drones and digital technology in agriculture.
Fredrick brings in over eight years’ worth of experience in GIS, UAV mapping and land surveying. He is a firm believer of implementing scientific research work to provide sustainable solutions to problems faced in the industry.
Justice Kwame Gyesi
Justice is the CEO and Co-founder of Ziongate Geospatial & Research Services Limited, a company based in Ghana that provides cutting edge geo-spatial services and products in areas such as Agricultural, Land Use Planning and Surveying among others.
He holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc.) Degree and Master of Philosophy (MPhil) Degree in Planning from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and a certificate in Remote Sensing and Digital Image Processing from the International Training Center (ITC) in Enschede, the Netherlands.
With his deep-rooted interest in knowledge sharing and promoting ICTs in spatial planning and other related fields, Justice aides in lecturing Geographic Information System and Remote Sensing course module at the department of Planning KNUST, and also works with the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority (LUSPA) of Ghana as a Town Planning Officer mandated to plan, manage and promote harmonious, sustainable and cost-effective development of human settlements.
In May 2018, his company, Ziongate Geospatial and Research Services Limited, was among the start-up companies in Africa that won CTA’s Expression of Interest for the project “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture: Eyes in The Sky, Smart Techs on The Ground”. Through this project he acquired enormous practical skills and knowledge in business development and drone piloting.
Adviser to the Board
Giacomo is a freelance consultant formerly Senior Programme Coordinator ICTs at the Technical Centre for Agricultural & Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) in Wageningen, Netherlands. He has 39 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 (ADB) and on projects funded by the Italian Development Cooperation and the European Commission. He holds a honours degree in agricultural sciences from the State University of Milan, Italy.
At CTA he has been a member of the Digitalisation for Agriculture (D4Ag) team where he coordinated a stream of activities related to the deployment of drone technology in agriculture including influencing drone governance’s. The project known as “Eyes in the Sky, Smart Techs on the Ground” has been the winner of the WSIS 2020 Prize in the category E-Agriculture.
Giacomo led also 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.
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.
Find Giacomo on LinkedIn.