Neven Mimica has been European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development since 2014. In this role he is focused on ensuring that the European Union delivers on the commitments it has made to reducing poverty as laid out under the Millennium Development Goals. Other responsibilities include setting out the European Commission and European Union positions for negotiations on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals agenda after 2015, and cooperating with national governments to make European Union development aid more eff ective. He is also working to prepare for a renewed partnership with the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific.
Prior to 2014, Mr Mimica held numerous other diplomatic roles. Among those: European Commissioner for Consumer Policy; Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister for Internal, Foreign and European Policy; Deputy Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, Chair of the European Integration Committee of the Croatian Parliament and Minister for European Integration.
Born in Croatia, Mr Mimica has a master’s degree in economics from the University of Zagreb, and is married with two children.
H.E. Kwesi Quartey who was recently elected Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission is a lawyer by Training.
He has over 35 years of experience as a career diplomat. He has served in various capacities in Ghana’s Embassies and High Commissions in Cotonou, Cairo, Brussels, Havana, and London. He was Ghana Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, and Deputy High Commissioner of Ghana to the United Kingdom before being appointed Ghana’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and as Permanent Representative to the African Union in Addis Ababa. He was for many years Director of the Legal and Consular Department of the Ghanaian Foreign Ministry.
He was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Aff airs & Regional Integration in 2012, and later Secretary to President, H.E. Mr. John Mahama of Ghana in 2015. His hobbies include Field Hockey, Tennis, Chess and Table Tennis.
He is married to Mrs Audrey Quartey and is blessed with 4 grown-up daughters. He is an unrepentant feminist.
Pierre Guislain, a Belgian national, joined the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group in December 2016.As vice-president of the AfDB, his areas of responsibility include the financial sector, trade, urban development and information and communication technologies.
Previously, Mr Guislain held the position of senior director in charge of transport and information & communication technologies at the World Bank. He also served as director of the World Bank’s investment climate department, a joint grouping of the bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, and as co-director at the IFC for fragile and conflict affected countries.
Mr Guislain is an author and editor of publications on private sector development, foreign direct investment, ICT, infrastructure reform and privatisation. He holds a master's degree in economics and public policy from Princeton University (USA), as well as a graduate degree in law from the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium).
Mr. Vimal Shah is the CEO of Bidco Oil Refi neries Limited and BIDCO Group, a business conglomerate involved in the manufacture of edible oil, detergents, soaps, margarine and baking powder. He is also a member of the 3GF (Global Green Growth Fund) Advisory Board and the Tony Elumelu Foundation Advisory Board.
Until April 2015, he was the Chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance-the private sector body in Kenya, and is a former Chairman of the East African Business Council and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers. Mr. Vimal Shah was the 2012 recipient of the East African Entrepreneur of the Year award awarded by All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) in partnership with CNBC Africa and Forbes Africa. He was named Oshwal Entrepreneur of the Year and awarded the ‘First Class: Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear (CBS) in December 2011-the highest national honour for a private citizen in Kenya. Under his leadership Bidco has received over 30 corporate awards in 15 years across various domains: energy management, business leadership and manufacturing.
Mr. Vimal Shah holds an honorary PHD awarded by the KCA University for his contribu-tion to the growth of entrepreneurship in Kenya and degree of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Finance.
French businessman Pierre Gattaz was elected president of MEDEF, the Movement of the Enterprises of France in July 2013. At the same time, he became first statutory vice-president of the Comité France Chine, an organisation which aims to promote knowledge and understanding between French and Chinese companies and China’s government. He has been chairman of electronics manufacturer Radiall since 1994, and is an entrepreneur committed to defending and promoting early stage businesses.
As head of MEDEF, Mr Gattaz’s top priority is creating employment by giving companies the means and conditions to be competitive in a safe environment – the only way to restore growth needed for economic recovery.
Previous roles have included managing directorships at Fontaine Électronique, Convergie and Radiall, and he has held the title of president at several organisations - namely the Professional Association for Electronic Components and Systems, the Federation of Electrical, Electronic and Communication Industries and the Industrial Federations Group.
He graduated in engineering from Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications de Bretagne and holds a certificate in administrative management from George Washington University.
Mr Gattaz is the author of Le printemps des Magiciens (Magicians’ Spring, 2009), Les 7 piliers de la Croissance (The 7 Pillars of Growth 2013), and Français, bougeons nous! (Let’s Move, France! 2014), all published by Nouveau Monde. In addition, in April 2016, his reflections Faire gagner la France à horizon 2020 and La France de tous les possibles appeared in the édition Débats publics. A married father of four, Mr Gattaz is Knight of the Legion of Honor and Officer of the National Order of Merit.
Rebecca Stromeyer is director of ICWE , an international events and communications company. She is also co-founder and co-owner of ICEF, the global leader in international student recruitment and travel for education workshops. Ms Stromeyer grew up in an international environment and is multilingual. Born in Kuwait, she spent her formative years in different countries in the Middle East, going on to study Slavonic Studies, Comparative Literature, Business Administration and Media Studies in Berlin, Moscow and the UK. Against this backdrop, she launched her successful exhibition series on languages and multiculturalism, which have been organised in European cities including Berlin, Budapest, London, Warsaw, Moscow and Prague since 1988.
As an organiser of global education events in all parts of the world, she co-launched the Online Educa conference series in Berlin in 1995. This annual event is now regarded as an important networking event on the calendar of the international e-learning industry. In 2000, the event was launched in Madrid, to include the Spanish-speaking e-learning community.
Ms Stromeyer’s project, eLearning Africa, responds to the need for ICT-supported learning in Africa. The annual international conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training was first held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2006, and later held in cities including Nairobi, Accra, Dakar, Lusaka and Windhoek. It is attended by over 1,700 delegates from all sectors, and ministers from many African nations.
Ms Stromeyer is founding director of E-Cubed Communications, an agency for international communications, marketing and public affairs. She is an advisory member to law firm ELIG and vice-chair of the board of the Global Business School Network. In addition, she is chairperson of East Trust, a non-profit organisation that aims to make a lasting positive impact on education in Africa and a board member of the Drucker Society.
Chris Bishop is the founding editor of Forbes Africa, which was launched in October 2011. He has spent 32 years in journalism. He has tackled print, radio and TV and spent 20 years reporting on the African story.
In 2011, Bishop had won South Africa’s ‘Sanlam Award for Excellence in Financial Journalism’ and in 1988 he had won the ‘Sir David Beattie Award’ for exposing a cover-up of an assassination attempt on the Queen. Bishop has reported for the BBC in London, CNBC Africa, SKY News, TVNZ and the SABC.
In 2013, Chris Bishop took the prestigious “Special Editor of the Year Award” at the annual PICA Awards event.
Hussein Alfa ‘Seyni’ Nafo is special advisor to the president of Mali, and the country’s ambassador for climate change. Mr Nafo holds numerous environmental roles aimed at strengthening Africa’s institutions, and its responses to climate change, within a global context. To name a few, he is chairman of the African Group of Negotiators, which represents 54 countries at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and was recently elected as vice-president of the Bureau of the Conference of the Parties (COP). He is also is co-chair, and one of two African representatives, on the convention’s standing committee on finance.
Mr Nafo’s commitment to addressing climate change is reflected in his involvement in numerous high-level projects. One important contribution is his work on tabling the African Group proposal to the UNFCCC that initiated the establishment of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI). He is currently co-leader of the initiative, as well as head of the support unit to Guinea’s president, and African Union coordinator for renewable energies. In 2009, Mr Nafo co-founded Interface Africa, a firm focused on project development and financial engineering.
Roberto Ridolfi is director for sustainable growth and development at DG Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid. As ambassador and head of a delegation to the European Union, Mr Ridolfi first served in Suva, Fiji, from 2005 to 2007, where he oversaw all relations of the union with 15 countries and territories, as well as with the Pacific Forum.
In 2011, he was appointed in Uganda by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy & Vice-President of the European Commission, where he served until September 2013. In the interim period, in a role as head of unit of Europe Aid F3, he managed programmes dealing with the environment, food security, migration and asylum, as well as the €1 billion food facility in 50 countries. Mr Ridolfi joined the commission in 1994, taking responsibility for the European delega-tion to Malawi as infrastructure and development advisor.
Saadia Madsbjerg joined the Rockefeller Foundation in 2013, and now leads its work on innovation. Her responsibilities include shaping and scaling innovative finance solutions and raising private sector investment capital for the social sector.
Before joining the foundation, Ms Madsbjerg was senior vice-president for strategic planning at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. There she led a portfolio of transformative projects focused on creating more equitable and resilient growth for the city. Other roles include heading up strategy and analytics at Cisco’s TelePresence Technology Group, and associate principal at McKinsey & Company. Ms Madsbjerg has a Master of Science in Applied Economics and Finance from Copenhagen Business School, and George Washington University, and a Bachelor of Science in International Business from Copenhagen Business School and Boston College.
Chris Clubb has 20-plus years experience in financing development projects in over 50 emerging and frontier markets. Prior to joining Convergence, he led the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) activities in early transition countries, increasing its annual investments five-fold to become their largest investor. In partnership with over 20 donors, he also innovated and implemented many of EBRD’s blended finance programmes – including the leading local currency programme for SME finance and development.
Prior to joining EBRD, Mr Clubb held numerous financing roles. At European Investment Bank, he provided long-term financing to strategic European infrastructure projects and at Export Development Canada (EDC), cross-border financing to international buyers. His career began in corporate banking at Toronto Dominion Bank, and he has held senior strategic risk management positions at EBRD and EDC.
Ana Hajduka is an infrastructure and energy professional with over 12 years experience working on projects in emerging markets on transactions that include project finance, public-private partnerships and project development.
Previously, Ms Hajduka practiced law for 10-plus years, having qualified in England and Wales and the State of New York. She completely her training with Allen & Overy LLP and subsequently worked for Fulbright & Jaworski LLP and Trinity International LLP, advising on a diverse range of projects within the energy sector, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. In March 2015, she was appointed by the UN Economic Commission for Europe as a project team leader responsible for 30 specialists in charge of developing standards in international renewable energy for public private partnerships.
Riccardo Ridolfi , the organiser of this session, is an Italian entrepreneur with a passion for renewable energy and Africa, where he lived for over 8 years of his life. He holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Economics and from the Australian National University, as well as an LL.M from the University College London. Riccardo is a qualified lawyer in Australia, England & Wales and Italy. After four years of practice as an international lawyer, specialising in structured fi nance and foreign investment protection, Riccardo made of access to energy and rural development his mission. In 2014, he joined forces with Alberto Pisanti and, together, they co-founded what today has become Absolute Energy’s rural utility. Riccardo has also advised numerous companies and investors relating to business in Africa, building strong relationships on the continent. He also nurtures a strong interest in the tech startup world, particularly with regards to accelerating access to services. Sustainability has always been a key driver for Riccardo, evidenced by Absolute Energy’s business model, as well as Riccardo’s pro bono activity, starting from the creation of SustainaWay (a small dedicated NGO) to the collaboration for the protection of wildlife with Elephant Action League.
Christine Leurquin has 30 years experience in European satellite com-munications. At SES S.A., her central role is to position the company at a high level within the European Union (EU) and other institutions such as the International Telecommunications Union, European Space Agency and African Union, among others. She considers policies and regulations, provides political support, and helps to establish research and development and institutional projects. Other responsibilities include tracking political issues and debates of interest to her company and playing a role in global satellite navigation system projects like Galileo. Ms Leurquin has held various roles at SES since 1999. Prior to this she was president and CEO of Sait Videohouse SA (1992-98) and head of Space Data Division, Sait Systems SA (1989-92). She is actively involved numerous associations. Among those the European Satellite Operators Association, which she founded, the 5G Infrastructure Association and the 5G PPP Partnership Board Association. Ms Leurquin is multilingual. She has an MBA from the University of St Louis, Brussels and a Masters in Germanic languages from ULB (Université libre de Bruxelles). In addition she completed management courses at the University of Chicago and has attended SES Top Management Leadership and Negotiation Courses.
Steve Collar, a satellite industry veteran, joined O3b Networks as chief executive offi cer in 2011. He has guided the company through the successful build and launch of its state-of-the-art satellite con-stellation and has led the business into full commercial operations. O3b provides end-to-end network solutions to some of the world’s largest telecommunications, maritime and energy companies as well as to governments.
In February 2017, Mr Collar joined the SES Executive Committee and is currently chief executive offi cer for SES Networks. Prior to this, Mr Collar held numerous management positions in commercial, business development and technology at SES, New Skies Satellites and Matra Marconi Space (now Airbus). Mr Collar is a British national.
Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou, High Commissioner, High Commission for Information Technology and New Technologies of Information and Communication, Niger
In April, Laurence Janssens was appointed country manager for the Indian Ocean Islands. She is based in Mauritius and is part of the Microsoﬅ African (WECA) leadership team. Ms Janssens joined Microsoﬅ at the beginning of 2015 as public sector lead for Belgium, which includes all Belgian governmental and international institu-tions. She also served as a director on the boards of the ‘Microsoﬅ Innovation Centres’, which are private public partnerships with the Brussels and Walloon regions, Microsoﬅ and other private partners.
Prior to joining Microsoﬅ , she held a similar position with the Belgian telecom operator Proximus. She began her career as a consultant with Bain & Company and moved from there into various sales and business develop-ment roles within the telco & ICT sectors, both in Belgium and in Western Europe. She has an MBA from the Chicago Booth School of Business, and a commercial engineer masters from the University of Leuven, Belgium. Ms Janssens is a Belgian and Swiss citizen.
Andreas Spiess is the co-founder of Berlin headquartered SOLARKIOSK AG, which sells solar products from solar-powered business hubs.
Mr Spiess studied law at the Freie Universität in Berlin and specialised in IP and corpo-rate law, practising in Düsseldorf and New York before starting his own law fi rm Spieß Schumacher Schmieg, & Partner in 1999. Following extensive legal work in the fi eld of renewable energy technology and developing markets, he decided to invest.
With Ethiopian partners, his fi rst venture was to found Solar Development plc in Addis Ababa, which is now one of Ethiopia’s biggest solar system integrators. Then, in 2010, he co-founded Fosera Ethiopia plc, a solar lighting product assembly line based in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.
SOLARKIOSK AG was born in 2011 from a partnership with GRAFT architects, which contributed the award winning technology-design, and other angel investors.
With satellite communications fi rm SES, SOLARKIOSK AG have partnered to estab-lish a ‘Connected Solar School’ for an educational centre run by UNICEF and Relief International, within Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp.
Jan-Willem Scheijgrond heads up the global network within Philips that is responsible for relations with governments and related stake-holders. Its aim is to address societal challenges, in particular in the area of large-scale healthcare transformations. Mr Scheijgrond is also responsible for partnerships with the United Nations, Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), and the World Economic Forum to strengthen health systems that achieve universal health coverage. He is a board member of the Partnership for Maternal and Newborn Child Health and member of the Global Finance Facility Investors Group. He joined Philips in 2009 as senior director within the corporate sustainability offi ce, with responsi-bility for risk and reputation management.
Mr Scheijgrond began his career at the United Nations Environment Programme, where he developed best practice guides for cleaner production in emerging markets. Subsequently, he held numerous sustainability and government related functions at the BLC Leather Confederation, Epson, and Hewlett-Packard.
He holds a master’s degree in environmental technology from Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and is married with two children.
Walter H. Mayer is founder and CEO of PROGIS Soﬅ ware AG. He has been involved in the PC hard- and soﬅ ware since 1978 and has built up as distributor the Apple and Acer market in Austria. From 1994 Mr Mayer started as one of the very few European GIS (= Geografi cal Information Systems) supplier the development of PC-based GIS-products (WinGIS...) that are successfully sold world-wide via a distributor network. Further he could initiate the set up of an Advanced Technical College for Geoinformatics nearby the PROGIS location in Villach, Austria. As a result of his long lasting experience as consultant for ecology, agriculture and forestry - Mr MAYER studied agro-science and forestry (MSc) and is still running his own Argo-forestry enterprises as well as heading a consulting offi ce in this fi eld - he introduced with WinGIS-AGROffi ce a complete new model of an integrated and GIS based agro/forestry soﬅ ware to handle private farmers/forest enterprises as well as governments EDP needs, including traceability, precise farming, ecology etc.
Alexander De Croo Deputy prime minister and minister of Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal Services, Belgium
Alexander De Croo, Deputy prime minister and minister of Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal Services, Belgium
Karim Lotfi Senhadji is the CEO of OCP Africa, a subsidiary of OCP Group, a producer and exporter of phosphates and other fertilizers. OCP Africa has 10 offi ces and employs over 150 people. Prior to stepping into the role of chief executive, Mr Lotfi Senhadji spent over seven years at OCP in diff erent leadership positions, including as vice-president of shipping, and director of the group management control department. Previously, he held various management positions at both Moroccan and multinational companies, including Holcim Group, Altadis Maroc and Meditelecom.
Mr Lotfi Senhadji has degrees from MIT in Boston and HEC Paris and holds an exec-utive MBA from ESSEC & Mannheim Business schools. He is also a graduate of the Marrakech’s Royal Air Forces School, where he received a diploma in aeronautic engi-neering and trained as a fi ghter pilot. Mr Lotfi Senhadji is a married father of two.
From 2009-17, Dr Kanayo Nwanze was the fi ﬅ h president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an organisation that puts agriculture, and especially smallholder development and rural poor, at the heart of the international development agenda. He has also served as the director-general of the Africa Rice Centre’s Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) where he was instrumental in introducing high-yield, drought- and pest-resistant Nerica rice varieties, developed specifi cally for African.
Dr Nwanze holds a BSc in agricultural science from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and a doctorate in agricultural entomology from Kansas State University. He has published extensively and has received honor- ary degrees from McGill University, Canada, and University of Warwick, UK. He is a member of the Global Agenda Council on Food security of the World Economic Forum, and in 2016 received the inaugural Africa Food Prize.
Originally from Ethiopia, Michael Hailu is the director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) based in the Netherlands. CTA is a joint institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacifi c Group of States and the European Union working under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. As CTA director he identifi ed three priorities for the centre’s work: enhancing inclusive value chains; strengthening capacities of agricultural research institutions; and building networks in knowledge management and ICTs.
He has over 25 years of professional experience in agricultural research and development in Africa and Asia. Prior to joining CTA in 2010, he held senior leadership positions at the World Agroforestry Centre in Kenya and at the Centre for International Forestry Research in Indonesia. He has degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and Addis Ababa University and has studied strategic leadership at Stanford University School of Business.
Maira Dzelzkalēja is an expert in agriculture with over 20 years experience. She is vice-president of the ‘Latvian Farmers Parliament’ union, where she is responsible for agriculture and rural develop-ment strategy, as well as international relations. She has been vice-president of the Committee of Agricultural Organisations (Copa) since 2013, and chaired the Copa-Cogeca working group on agricul-ture and rural development.
Since the 1990s she has been involved in the development of a successful family farm, expanding it from 14 hectares to 500 hectares today. Her impressive track record includes promoting sustainable agriculture in the Baltic Sea region, and an EU-Croatia ‘twinning project’ focused on capacity building for the agriculture ministry. A specialist in subjects including sustainable farming and rural development, plant protection and social dialogue, she has spoken at a previous European Commission conference on new technologies in agriculture and research. She studied agronomy and economics at the Latvia University of Agriculture.
Josephine Okot has steered Victoria Seeds from a struggling start up to Uganda’s leading seed house, which was ranked #2 in the 2016 Access to Seed Index. The company that she founded was established in 2004 to disseminate quality seed to smallholder farmers, with the aim of improving crop yields and nutrition. It is the proud winner of the Uganda Responsible Investment Award, Best Seed.
Ms Okot has received numerous accolades. In 2007, she won the YARA Prize in recognition of her work to reverse Africa’s declining agricultural productivity. Two years later she was an honoree of the 2009 Oslo Business for Peace Award for promoting socially responsible and ethical business practice. In 2011, was named African Woman of the Year, for her work promoting and mentoring women in business, at the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship, and in 2014 was Uganda Business Woman of the Year.
She currently serves on the board of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan and holds a Masters in International Business from Washington International University.
Dr Ndubuisi Ekekwe, Founder & Chairman, First Atlantic Semiconductors & Microelectronics Ltd (Fasmicro)
An electrical and computer engineering whizz, Dr Ndubuisi Ekekwe’s company, Fasmicro, produces the Zenvus, a smart device which tells farmers what, how and when to farm. Previously, he worked for Analog Devices Corp as a lead engineer, and served in the United States National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centre. He is also a TED Fellow, ‘IBM Global Entrepreneur’ and World Economic Forum ‘Young Global Leader’. An inventor and author, Dr Ekekwe blogs at Harvard Business Review, and has previously taught engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and Babcock University. He holds a PhD in electrical & computer engineering from Johns Hopkins University, an MBA from the University of Calabar, Nigeria, and a BEng from the Nigerian Federal University of Technology Owerri.