Daily Archives: February 13, 2017

Omidyar Network invests in property rights startup Landmapp to help Ghanaian farmers document their land

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Omidyar Network announced today that it has invested in Landmapp BV, an Amsterdam-based property rights company that enables smallholder farmers to document and protect their land holdings. The investment will help Landmapp to grow its customer base in Ghana, where the company is providing this unique service primarily to cocoa farmers. The transaction also involved participation by HERi Africa, an existing investor in the company. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Landmapp was established in 2015 by two Amsterdam-based entrepreneurs, Simon Ulvund and Thomas Vaassen. Landmapp offers a mobile platform that provides smallholder farmer families with documentation of their land.  Their first country of operation is Ghana, and Ulvund and Vaassen have plans to expand into other countries following this successful rollout.

Many of the world’s 500 million smallholder families face two interrelated challenges: they hold little, if any, rights to their land and lack formal documentation; being restricted to the informal sector, they often cannot access technical and financial services to improve their livelihoods. Documented property rights enable them to plan for their future, including by investing in their land and property, insuring the health of their families and sending their children to school. This has a highly positive impact on the economic wellbeing of the farmers, their families and their communities.

For smallholder farmers, securing their land is often a large and very complex challenge. Landmapp provides an end to end affordable service, from the time the farmer signs up, till they hold a legal land certificate in their hands.

Landmapp has a field-based team of surveyors who use handheld GPS devices to map each farmer’s plot. The team verifies the farmer’s identify, validates the land claim with neighbours, submits the claim to the authorities for legalisation and delivers a final land certificate to the farmer. Already, the company has sold more than 2,000 documents to smallholder farmers in Ghana, demonstrating that farmers are willing and able to pay for this valuable documentation.

“We are delighted to be investing in Landmapp and its exciting model,” said Omidyar Network Venture Partner Peter Rabley. “They have clearly shown that farmers in Ghana understand the value of land documentation and are willing to pay for the legal protection they offer. We believe this model can be replicated in other countries.”

“Land and property rights is a complex sector, requiring significant knowledge and deep relationships in order to succeed. Omidyar Network has both, so we really couldn’t have a better partner on board,” said CEO Simon Ulvund. “And with HERi Africa, we have an investor with a thorough understanding of agriculture value chains and smallholders.”

“We’re now able to focus on growing our business in Ghana, first looking at scaling the number of land documents sold, while also partnering with complimentary businesses such as financial service providers, unlocking new products and services for smallholder farmers,” said Thomas Vaassen, the company’s CTO.

About Omidyar Network

Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. Omidyar Network has committed more than $1 billion to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple initiatives, including Education, Emerging Tech, Financial Inclusion, Governance & Citizen Engagement, and Property Rights.

To learn more, visit www.omidyar.com, and follow on Twitter @omidyarnetwork

Trump Makes First Calls to African Leaders

U.S. President Donald Trump made his first phone calls to African heads of state Monday, speaking with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and South African President Jacob Zuma.

Nigeria and South Africa said the calls were made at the request of the U.S. president, who until now has said little about Africa or African issues since assuming office last month.

The Nigerian presidency said Trump and Buhari discussed issues of terrorism, and said Trump assured Buhari the United States is ready to make a new deal to help Nigeria “in terms of military weapons.”

The statement said Trump also commended Buhari for the strides Nigeria is making against Islamist radical group Boko Haram, and invited Buhari to come to Washington at a mutually convenient date.

Buhari has not made any public appearances since going to London for medical treatment on January 19.

The South Africa presidency said that in their call, Trump and President Zuma affirmed their commitment to “strengthening the already strong bilateral relations between the two countries.”

It said they also discussed the need to work together on other issues, “especially the quest for peace and stability on the African continent.”

Buhari and Zuma congratulated President Trump on his election.

Source: Voice of America

Communications on World Radio Day celebrations

Department of Communications joins the world in celebrating World Radio Day

The Department of Communications will, on Monday 13th of February 2017, join the world in celebrating World Radio Day. This will be the sixth edition of World Radio Day, proclaimed by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to observe the important role that radio has , played in human advancement, and its unrivalled ability to touch the lives of people; from all walks of life.

The theme for the 2017 edition of World Radio Day is ‘Radio is You!’, a call for greater participation of audiences and communities in the policy and planning of radio broadcasting. As the word celebrate World Radio Day, the Department of Communications has been in the forefront of ensuring that this low-cost medium becomes even more accessible and relevant to everyone in the country.

In the past financial year the Department, through its entity the Media Diversity Development Agency (MDDA), has allocated funding and equipment to contribute towards setting up community radio stations.

The significant transformation that South Africa has witnessed in the broadcasting sector over the past 20 years is most visible in the community radio sector, which has benefitted immensely from the liberalisation of the air waves.

As a result, community broadcasting is today a significant competitor to public and commercial broadcasting, reflecting South Africa’s rich cultural, religious and language diversity across a range of geographies; from rural to urban and the peri-urban areas.

As the Department of Communications we will continue to support radio through advocating and passing policies that advance inclusivity, diversity of voices and facilitate the promotion of access to information.

Today, South Africa boasts more than 200 community radio stations, close to 20 commercial stations and 18 public radio stations � all dedicated towards informing, educating and entertaining their listeners.

Source: Government of South Africa


Police in Cape Town have discovered two huge shipments of abalone worth almost 40 million Rand (about 3.0 million US dollars) in a development which is linked to the recent arrest of four suspects for illegal possession of abalone.

Police Spokesperson Andre Traut said here Sunday that detectives conducted an operation at a cold storage facility in Paarden Island and came across a shipment of dried and frozen abalone with an estimated value of 8.0 million Rand.

Traut said the discovery of the two huge shipments was linked to the recent arrest of four suspects for the illegal possession of the marine resource.

“Further investigation led detectives to Table Bay Harbour were they discovered a 40-foot container with abalone destined for export.” he added.

“The container was seized and abalone worth 30 million Rand was found inside. No arrest has been made in connection with the latest seizure. We regard the operation as a huge success in breaking the back of syndicate responsible for the export of abalone.”


SA, EU talk trade

South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries have met with the ambassador of the European Union (EU), Dr Marcus Cornaro, to discuss bilateral trade relations.

The meeting took place in the context of the entry into force of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA group in October 2016.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana agreed that the EPA marks the strengthening of investment relations between South Africa and the European Union.

The relevance of the EPA was emphasised in the 2017 State of the Nation Address (SONA) that was delivered by President Jacob Zuma on 9 February.

SA’s poultry challenges

The Ministers and the EU discussed at the meeting on Friday the crisis in the domestic poultry industry. Some poultry producers have announced major retrenchment plans amid concerns of the import rate of poultry products from other countries.

The Ministers emphasised the importance of the poultry sector to rural development and the revitalisation of the agriculture and agro-processing value chain. The Ministers highlighted the measures implemented by government to date, which aim to address the challenges facing the industry in totality, said the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

The meeting recognised the crisis in the poultry industry as being complex and thus offered a platform to exchange views on the challenges faced by the industry, which includes structural and competitiveness issues, as well as increased imports.

Cornaro said the EU is of the view that the crisis is caused more by the structural challenges affecting the poultry sector rather than EU imports.

He also expressed the EU’s support for the restructuring of the industry. He said exports of South African poultry to the EU are an opportunity which should be pursued.

Both parties expressed good will to help facilitate market access and to enhance their cooperation on sanitary and phytosanitary issues (SPS).

The EU and South Africa are further committed to engage in outreach activities, sectors analyses, tackling trade barriers and the smoothening trade flows to help business take full advantage of the Economic Partnership Agreement.

Both parties acknowledged that 2016 was a very good year, with bilateral volumes of exports increasing on both sides. This is expected to improve this year, in view of the number of new opportunities created by the EPA.

Meanwhile, the dti last month announced that a task team set up to deal with challenges in the domestic poultry industry has made progress since its inception.

Source: South African Government News Agency