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Ready to soar over the fields of Sierra Leone, Agrimapic recognizes the country’s potential

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Ready to soar over the fields of Sierra Leone, Agrimapic recognizes the country's potential

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How can a government determine which areas of a country to dedicate for agriculture?

How will a farmer know which fields require the most urgent care after a major storm?

How can an agribusiness manager monitor their farm’s holdings?

Utilizing land for agriculture in a truly effective and efficient manner requires accurate and up-to-date information about the area. Unfortunately, modern mapping and surveying expertise are often unavailable in Sierra Leone. This makes it much harder to assess and chart the apx. 45,123 km² of arable land in the country that still lies fallow, despite the country’s persistent food insecurity.

Existing farms, including some larger agriculture operations, still make use of paper maps to manage and monitor the yield. But since traditional paper maps are much harder to update, and natural occurrences and fluctuations change the terrain frequently, paper maps rapidly become obsolete, making it nearly impossible for Sierra Leonean farmers to make the most efficient use of their land.

Sierra Leone has abundant rainfall and natural irrigation channels. Weather patterns in the country have remained relatively stable over the past decade. Ample tracts of tropical soil that have been cleared, lie ready for planting. The absence of modern imagery, mapping equipment, and expertise is holding the country’s agricultural sector back.

This is why we were thrilled to have Benny Shimon, founder and C.E.O. of Agrimapic, join us on our Trade Mission. Agrimapic provides high-resolution aerial data and analytical solutions in Israel and internationally. The company’s technology has numerous applications, including 3D mapping, crop inspection, environmental monitoring, forestry, and construction. Agrimapic and tailors its products and services to the specific needs of each customer.

While Agrimapic is a global company, supporting projects in Asia, Europe, and the United States, it has yet to begin operating in Africa. Benny considers the Trade Mission to have been “a life changing experience in terms of seeing how agriculture is still practiced in certain areas in Africa and understanding the potential that modern tools and practices dramatically increase yields in Africa in General and in Sierra Leone in particular”

Agrimapic is currently working on a sensor that can collect data points about the crops in real time, provide analysis on their health, and automatically initiate an automated response if needed. These sensors can attach to most drones and fixed wing UAVs and works in areas lacking cellular and internet coverage. This makes it ideal in areas with limited ICT infrastructure.

“This was my first time in Africa,” Benny said.

“The Trade Mission gave me a chance to speak to executives from other companies already established in Africa, and I learned that so much is happening now on the sub-continent in terms of agriculture. I was also able to speak to senior Sierra Leonean officials and get a sense of their commitment to developing the sector and increasing yields. This Trade Mission made me begin to view Africa as a business destination.”

If you too want to get involved in driving Sierra Leone’s agriculture sector forward, please contact our Director of Agriculture Maoz Aviv at maoz@empowerafrica.com

Register now for early access to the Empower Africa Business Network.

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Driving Business in Africa – London Event

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Uk - Africa Business Summit

Driving Business in Africa Event

The Arts Club – London, England

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First Ever UK-Africa Investment Summit Held in London

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First Ever UK-Africa Investment Summit Held in London

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On January 20th, government officials and business leaders from the UK and twenty-one African nations came together for the first ever UK-Africa Investment Summit. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson opened the summit acknowledging Africa’s considerable business potential and presenting the UK’s intention of becoming Africa’s “investment partner of choice.” Johnson emphasized that we live in a competitive globalized world, and that the UK’s flourishing economy and robust private sector can play a critical role in fostering mutually beneficial investments and commercial relationships in Africa. “Africa is the future,” Johnson declared. “And the UK has a huge and active role to play in that future.”

Another key highlight of the event was the commitment by the CDC (the UK Government’s development finance institution) to invest a further £2 billion by 2022 in Africa and the SDGs.

Empower Africa’s Vice President of Business Development and Operations Shai Bernstein attended the Summit to discuss Empower Africa’s mission of promoting sustainable economic development in Africa with key relevant stakeholders. Shai’s highlights included meeting and networking with influential people such as the Presidential Advisor on Economic and Financial Policy in Sierra Leone Joe Demby; President of the Africa Business Club at London Business School Zandile Nkwanyana; Deputy Head of Mission at the Israel Embassy in the UK Sharon Bar-Li; Vice President of Commercial Business at Windward Ron Crean; and, Founder, and Chairman of Future Planet Capital Douglas Hansen.

“Africa is the future,” Johnson declared. “And the UK has a huge and active role to play in that future.”

Several prominent African entrepreneurs attended the Summit and took to the stage to share their plans for a modern and connected Africa. Kenyan Ciiru Waweru Waithaka, CEO & Founder FunKidz, a successful startup that makes functional children’s furniture, insisted that Africa’s energetic and innovative youth just needed to be given the opportunity to build a strong private sector, and that “manufacturing SMEs are the answer to questions on economic sustainability in Africa.”

Expanding commercial engagements in Africa is good not just for Africa – it will also boost the global economy and allow the rest of the world to benefit from African innovations. For example, Charles Ofori Antipem from Ghana, Co-Founder Dext Technologies, has invented the “Science Set” – a mini portable lab making it easy for young students to perform basic experiments and get excited about science. The Science Sets are currently being tested by 500 schools in the UK, and Antipem has already secured requests from 24 other countries worldwide. Charles urged investors to invest in young entrepreneurs taking the leap: “ Africans are going to transform the continent and the world with their ideas, solutions, and companies.”

One of the themes during the Summit was Africans’ role as witnessed through the success of Mpesa in Kenya. Africa’s economy is moving at a substantial pace with talks and action about sustainability such as the Republic of Seychelles’ world’s first blue bond and Kenya’s sovereign green bonds.

While investors identified the main growth sectors in Africa as infrastructure, job creation, power, and manufacturing, African entrepreneurs called on the need to build and implement strategies to include sustainable growth. Participants did not shy away from identifying existing challenges, such as restricted access to technical support and financial services, that can prevent vulnerable groups like women and youth from utilizing existing opportunities.

Monica Musonda, CEO of Java Foods, and Tatu Gatere, Co-Founder & COO of BuildHer, discussed their experiences as female entrepreneurs in Africa. Lawyer turned entrepreneur Musonda, who founded Zambia-based Java Foods in an effort to tackle malnutrition through the private sector, stressed that the continent will never achieve its full economic potential if women are not given an equal seat at the table. Gatere, who founded BuildHer in Kenya to teach women construction skills, urged policymakers to tackle challenges that keep women from establishing and maintaining businesses, since women “are often the pioneers of community. If you help women you have a trickle-down effect on children and families.”

During the Summit, the UK took the opportunity to announce a £80 million infrastructure partnership between the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and the African Development Bank.

The summit concluded with a reminder that prosperity cannot be created through government alone. Commercial partnerships and a linkage to global markets will ultimately create economic development in Africa that is more stable and has more room to grow.

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Thousands celebrate at 2nd Annual Education Day in Kono, Sierra Leone

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Thousands celebrate at 2nd Annual Education Day in Kono, Sierra Leone

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On January 16, 2020, Empower Africa sponsored Kono District’s 2nd Annual Education Day held in Koidu Town, Kono District, Sierra Leone. The festivities were organized by the Kono Artists’ Movement and hosted by Koidu Town’s mayor, Mayor Komba Sam.

The Annual Education Day brought together educators, artists, business leaders, government officials, parents and students to celebrate the transformative power that education can have on the district’s youth. Education expands the mind and opens children to their own potential, allowing them to begin envisioning a future different than their present. In a district where many primary-age children drop out of school to mine for diamonds, the annual Education Day is a chance to inspire students to stay in school and invest in their future.

Approximately 2000 people attended the event – twice the number of people present at the 2019 Education Day. Among those in attendance were participants from Empower Africa Delegation, including Edleen Elba, Women Leadership and Educator, and the Deputy Commissioner of National Youth Affairs Commission, Emmerson Kamara.

Key speakers at the event included Ezi Rapaport, Founder and CEO of Empower Africa; Victor T. Yopoi, Coordinator of Life Beyond Diamonds; Moiwa B. Gandi, Chairman of Head Teachers’ Council; Ibrahim Koroma, Deputy Chairman of Conference of Principals; Alpha Sessay, Assistant Director of Education; Augustine Sahr Sheku, Permanent Secretary of The Ministry of Information and Communication; Mathew Komba Sam, Mayor of Koidu city; Ammar Kamara, Empower Africa’s Country Representative and Simbakoro, Principal of Government Technical Institute.

The festivities featured a celebratory march through Koidu, musical performances by the Artist A-Boy and other members of the Kono Artist Movement, motivational speeches, and an awards ceremony recognizing three top students from the district:

Alimatu Sia Moigua of the “Free the Children” primary school: Best pupil in the national primary school exams.

Mariama Jalloh of the united methodist secondary school – yengema: best pupil in the west african senior certificate exams.

James Moses of the “Free the Children” junior secondary school: best pupil in the basic education certificate exams.

The annual Education Day celebrations are also in line with President Bio’s strategy of creating sustainable economic growth in Sierra Leone through human capital development by focusing on the three pillars of education, food security, and healthcare. Education benefits not just the students staying in school but the Sierra Leonean economy as a whole by giving the country’s youth the tools they need to innovate and grow the economy.

Around the festivities Empower Africa also brought a delegation of senior representatives to visit Koyardu village in the Kono district to see how development is continuing there since the 709 carat peace diamond was found and auctioned.

Children born in Kono deserve opportunities to succeed professionally beyond the diamond mines. Empower Africa is proud to take an active role in promoting education in Sierra Leone, and is excited to see the annual Education Day celebrations growing year after year.

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Second Annual Education Day, January 2020

Kono District's Education Day

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Second Annual Education Day

January 16, 2020

Kono District, Sierra Leone

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Empower Africa sponsored Kono District’s 2nd Annual Education Day. The festivities were organized by the Kono Artists’ Movement and hosted by Koidu Town’s mayor, Mayor Komba Sam. Learn More