What Have NELGA Alumni Been Up To

The NELGA scholarship and fellowship programs graduate and train some of the most gifted land governance newbies and experts in Africa. The NELGA team recently reached out to some of them, keeping us updated on how NELGA’s support has influenced their personal lives and professional achievements.

George Tonderai Mudimu, a postdoctoral fellow at Institute for Poverty, Land, and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), South Africa

I had my first encounter with NELGA Southern Africa Node in February 2018. I was a research intern at the Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS) and was nominated to attend the inaugural NELGA course in Land Governance and Corruption in Namibia. This course was quite useful for me for it delved into practical and theoretical issues on land governance, which was the focus of my doctoral research. Some of the key lessons I learnt from this course I utilized in my doctoral thesis write up as well as in my journal articles, more specifically my article on land leasing in post land reform Zimbabwe and on other land governance-related works.

My second and also crucial interface with NELGA was a few months later in July.  SMAIAS nominated me to attend the Scoping Study on Land Governance in Africa course. I networked with colleagues at the meeting and jointly we developed a research piece on equitable and sustainable land governance for Africa. The research piece was shared at both regional and continental levels.  This research piece has partly been instrumental to land governance in Africa and has been cited by a few academic works and policy briefs on land policy in Zimbabwe (over 100 downloads and citations). I am now seen as a resource expert and improved my activism on land reforms matters and have been invited to speak during online events on land governance more frequently.

Rebecca Justin Milamo, Assistant Lecturer at Ardhi University, Tanzania

After attaining my undergraduate degree in 2014, I worked with several real estate firms, public institutions as well as volunteering in a local professional association as an executive assistant. Through that, I realized that the industry has a lot of challenges but is also very exciting and promising. In Tanzania, real estate professional practice is still underdeveloped partly due to a limited number of highly skilled and qualified professionals (especially women) and institutions. Despite the prevalence of land governance-related problems, still, a large section of the population is ignorant of land issues. The problem is even much more pronounced amongst women, which in turn limit their access to land resources.

Thereafter, I was motivated to enhance my professional skills by pursuing further studies. Due to insufficient financial capacity, I searched for several scholarships and funding programs until I got the DAAD NELGA/SLGA in-country scholarship. Despite enabling me to attain my Masters’ degree, this scholarship has exposed me to different international conferences and workshops, cultures, expanded my network locally and internationally as well as enhanced my research and communication skills through various training and seminars.

It is through the NELGA scholarship program I have acquired the required qualifications that enabled me to join an academic institution (Ardhi University) as a tutor, researcher and consultant. This opportunity creates a good platform for sharing my knowledge and skills with other upcoming young stars who have an interest in land-related issues. It also enables me to use my expertise in researching and publishing to share or exchange the knowledge I have with the general public so as to address some of the land-related challenges being faced. Hence, I consider this to be the best way of giving back to the community.

Emmanuel Offei Akrofi, Senior Lecturer, Department of Geomatic Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana

I was engaged in NELGA Staff Exchange Programme to the Department of Land Administration of INES-RUHENGERI, Rwanda. I taught Introduction to Land Administration from February 18, 2020, through March 13, 2020 There were two streams A and B totalling 110 students, including second-year students who were re-writing the course. Besides, the normal teaching Dr. Tende Renz Tichafogwe, another volunteer for the staff exchange program from Cameroon, and I jointly organized seminars on Linkages between the Environment and Land Management and Research Methodology for the second-and third-year students of the Department.

Participation in the NELGA staff Exchange has been beneficial to me as an individual in several ways. It has broadened my knowledge and understanding of the complexities of land administration challenges facing Africa, particularly Rwanda and Ghana and some of the innovative ways these challenges are being tackled. Again, the need for adequate skilled manpower in all aspects of land administration and the need for African Universities to collaborate to improve this became evident. Consequently, a joint proposal between INES, KNUST and the other four Universities in Africa has been presented to the EU for sponsorship under Academic Mobility for Africa’s Development through the Academia-Industry Collaboration in Science, Technology and Innovation (AMADIST).

Germain Muvunyi, Lecturer and Academic Researcher, Institute of Applied Sciences Ruhengeri (INES Ruhengeri) Rwanda

The Network of Excellence for Land Governance in Africa (NELGA) supported by the GIZ, gave me the chance to attend and present my research results at conferences in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Rwanda. My research interest includes Remote Sensing & GIS for Environment, Natural Resource Management, Land Administration and Management, LULC/Landscape characterization & climate change studies.  As a young scientist and researcher with a lot of dreams and aspirations, delivering a scientific talk and getting feedback or comments is hugely important for one’s career.  Selected programs were strongly compatible with my career interests.

These in hand with extensive interactions with fellow experts in the field of  Land Administration and Management from various countries, helped me to secure substantial working knowledge good enough to contribute to some Land administration interventions in Rwanda or  East Africa, with evidence-based satisfactory services accomplished with skills, efficiency and effectiveness. It was great to be able to discuss projects and practical examples outside of my day to day practice and sector, and then to consider how these scenarios might apply in my country.  As result, one of my articles was published as a chapter in the book titled: Responsible and Smart Land Management Interventions: An African Context.”

Valentina Nyame, Research Assistant and MPhil in Planning graduate, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana

As part of the NELGA programme, I was sponsored for a short-term research stay at the Chair of Land Management, Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany. This offered a unique opportunity to interact with research, interact and network with experts across different countries on land governance in Africa. Specifically, the course on land management and tenure was insightful in exposing me to the land management practices in Germany and around the world as well as techniques in dealing with the varying interests on land. I was also able to work on collaborative research with the Chair of Land Management on land access among women in Ghana.

My experience with NELGA has been transformational for my career growth and development. Based on the knowledge and expertise I gained through the NELGA programme, I am currently employed as a research assistant on a project which assesses the effect of land governance on the socio-economic empowerment of gender in Ghana. I not only had an opportunity to pursue a masters program but I also gained a network of colleagues, experts and professionals that are working together to transform land governance in Africa.

Even as an Alumna, I continue to benefit from skill training programmes and several other opportunities for research and networking. I am happy to be part of NELGA and grateful for every opportunity I have been given. I will also like to encourage others, whether a student, graduate or professional, to take advantage of the opportunities provided by NELGA to make useful impacts in their countries.

Ovono Edzang Noël, Researcher, Department of Geography of the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences (FLSH), Omar Bongo University (UOB), CERGEP Research Center, Gabon

Working with NELGA, I was able to carry out a national research study to assess the land governance framework in the country. Recommendation from the study was presented at the launch of the formulation of the National Agricultural Investment Plan, Food Security and Nutrition 2 (PNIASAN 2) in Gabon. Insights from the research will be added to Gabon’s National Agricultural Investment Plan. It is rewarding to see ones hard work and words, playing a key role in shaping the country land governance landscape thanks to NELGA support.

The Network of Excellence on Land Governance in Africa is a partnership of leading African universities and research institutions with proven leadership in education, training, and research on land governance.