The economic impacts of COVID-19 are far reaching across the African continent. African countries have entered economic recessions; defaulted on foreign debt; and disbursed stimulus packages to support individuals and struggling businesses during curfews, closures, and lockdowns.
Simultaneously, steps are being taken around the continent to ratify and implement new policies to spur trade such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, and there is potential for an African woman to become the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation for the first time. Whether it is a booming fintech industry in Nigeria, a move toward bank liberalisation in Ethiopia, a sustainability push in South Africa, or regionally focused banking in Kenya, this moment signifies a transition for many African nations.
Access to participation in African financial markets has shifted, and the COVID-19 pandemic presents unique opportunities to innovate. At the same time, the underlying structure and resilience of these markets have come into question, as they recover from the economic downturn of 2020. Leaders in business, banking, and finance have used tools such as ESG investing or ‘Green financing’ to make impact on issues facing the African continent and to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa in collaboration with Silk Invest will be bringing together different leaders and professionals in the finance, trade, and development sector with expertise in business, banking, impact investing, and trade on the African continent. They will discuss their strategies for contributing to the sustainable development of the continent in these sectors, especially in the times of COVID-19.
In this event we hope to explore important questions such as: How has COVID-19 impacted African economies? What can African governments do to stabilise their economies in response to the pandemic and in the current trade environment? What role does entrepreneurship play in the growth of African economies? How can the public and private sector work together to address issues of sustainable development and what impact can regional and continental powers have on overall progress?
Zin Bekkali is the founder and CEO of Silk Invest, a well-established investment manager covering Frontier Markets and Africa. The firm among others manages a Frontier Markets equities strategy and a pan-African Private Equity fund. Prior to Silk Invest, Zin has among others worked for Fortis Investments, Bain and ING Investment Management. Zin holds a Masters of Science in Operations Research & Management (Bachelor Econometrics) from the University of Amsterdam. Zin is a CFA charter holder and he completed his Executive MBA at the London Business School.
Sangu Delle is CEO of Africa Health Holdings and Chairman of Golden Palm Investments. Sangu graduated with a BA, an MBA and a Doctor of Law from Harvard University and a Master's in International Human Rights Law from Oxford University. He is the author of Making Futures: Young Entrepreneurs in a Dynamic Africa. He serves on several boards at the Peddie School, Harvard University, Oxford University, Ashesi University and mPharma.
Lily Sommer is a Trade Policy Expert at the African Trade Policy Centre of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Her research is on African trade policy with a focus on the linkages between trade and industrialization, poverty and gender. She has published widely in the fields of development and trade economics, in particular on issues related to the African Continental Free Trade Area, informal cross border trade, e-commerce, industrial policy and the sustainable development goals. Prior to joining UNECA, Ms. Sommer was a Senior Economist at the Macroeconomic Department of the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in Uganda. Ms. Sommer holds a MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences and a BA in Economics from the University of Cambridge.
Admassu Tadesse is an international banker and business leader with experience at board and executive-levels globally and in Africa. He is currently the President and Chief Executive of the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) – formerly the PTA Bank. Since he joined the Bank in 2012, Mr. Tadesse has launched new business operations and spearheaded critical reforms which have led TDB to transform its ownership and risk management structures, expand its partnership network, grow its assets from US$ 1 billion to US$ 6.7 billion, and drive higher impact in the 22 Member States it serves. Previously, Mr. Tadesse was EVP at the Development Bank of Southern Africa, where he served for over 10 years, and was responsible for international finance and corporate strategy among others. He has also worked as a senior advisor and specialist with various funds and international organizations, including in New York. He is a recipient of several distinctions and awards, and serves on several boards and industry bodies globally. Recently, Mr. Tadesse was recognized, as the 2019, African Banker of the Year. He holds an MSc from the London School of Economics, and an MBA from Wits Business School. He is also an alumni of Harvard Business School and Western University.
Dr. David Luke (@DavidLukeTrade) is Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre at the UN Economic Commission for Africa with the rank of a director at the Commission. He is responsible for leading ECA’s research, policy advisory services, training and capacity development on inclusive trade policies and in particular the boosting intra-African trade and the continental free trade area initiatives. His portfolio also includes WTO, EPAs, Brexit, AGOA, Africa’s trade with emerging economies, and trade and cross-cutting policy areas such as trade, industrialization and structural transformation, trade and gender, trade and public health and trade and climate change.
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