“A good idea can improve people’s lives”
In large parts of Africa, however, property, tenure and land use rights are by no means legally binding. Only ten percent of the land is formally registered and can thus be legally owned. Since ownership of the remaining ninety percent is not clearly established, land conflicts and great uncertainty among the population ensue. It is impossible to plan or make long-term investments. At the same time, national and international investors are buying up large portions of land – and often evict the people who live there. Women, socially marginalized groups and the indigenous population are particularly affected.
Uchendu Eugene Chigbu wanted to do something about these obstacles in the development of his home continent. He first studied Estate Management in Nigeria, then Business and Management in Emerging Markets in England. Later, he met TUM Emeritus of Excellence Prof. Dr. Holger Magel. “I knew immediately that in him I had found my mentor for life,” says Uchendu Eugene Chigbu.
IN THE RIGHT PLACE
At the time, Holger Magel was full professor of Land Management and Development at TUM and is still internationally recognized as a luminary in this field. Uchendu Eugene Chigbu did not hesitate, moved to Munich and started the Master’s in Land Management and Land Tenure at TUM. “Choosing TUM over all other universities was an easy decision for me,” he recalls. “All over the world, TUM is a highly respected academic institution. And since Holger Magel was the best in his field, I knew I was now in the right place.”
With the knowledge he had acquired at TUM, Unchendu Eugene Chigbu wanted to return to Africa to apply his knowledge in land management in his home country. “Through my time at TUM, I understood that a good idea turned into a publication has the potential to actually have an impact on society and improve people’s lives,” he says. “Here I learned that it is possible to make a difference through research and publications, provided you have the right team and the right network to turn words into action.”
When he was appointed Associate Professor of Land Administration at the Namibia University of Science and Technology in 2020, Uchendu Eugene Chigbu felt well equipped. Upon returning to Africa, he already had access to an established network in academia and land practice, so he was able to get right to work. He effectively adopted the models of the TUM Research Groups and TUM Mentoring at his institute, set up his own first group, and began conducting research on Land Management and Gender Equity. In 2021, he published his findings and those of international researchers, including several TUM scientists, in a publication called “Land Governance and Gender.”
“It’s a great feeling that, even as an alumni, I continue to be part of the TUM Family,” Uchendu Eugene Chigbu says. He is grateful that, in the framework of the Africa Initiative, he continues to regularly and closely collaborate with his colleagues to advance their mutual goals. “This allows me to still be a part of the TUM spirit.“
Master Land Management and Land Tenure 2009, Doctorate Land Management 2013
Ever since he was young, Uchendu Eugene Chigbu has been pursuing his dream: to establish a sustainable and productive rural economy in Africa through strategic land management and to improve people’s living conditions through socially equitable access to land. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Estate Management at Abia State University in Nigeria. At the University of Reading in the UK, he completed a Master’s degree in Business and Management in Emerging Markets in 2005. Just two years later, he earned a second Master’s degree in Land Management and Land Tenure from TUM. In 2013, he followed this up with a doctorate. In his role as a scientific researcher, he worked on several international development projects as part of TUM’s Africa Initiative.
In 2020, Uchendu Eugene Chigbu was appointed Associate Professor of Land Management at the Namibia University of Science and Technology. In the African Union, NUST is considered the center of excellence for Land Governance in Africa. Uchendu Eugene Chigbu is co-chair of the International Research Cluster of the Global Land Tool Network (UN-Habitat). He is also the Associate Editor of the Journal Land Use Policy, which is published by Elsevier. With an Impact Factor of 5.398 and a CiteScore of 7.5., the Journal Land Use Policy is the best journal in land management.
Uchendu Eugene Chigbu is married with two children. Spending time with his family is what the passionate land developer enjoys most in his life.