Over 300 international speakers from Heads of States, Government and Business.
Dr. Agnes M. Kalibata
President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
As President of AGRA, Dr. Kalibata leads the organization’s efforts with public and private partners to ensure a food secure and prosperous Africa through rapid, sustainable agricultural growth, improving the productivity and livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers.
Prior to joining AGRA in September 2014, Dr. Kalibata was Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI). In this role, she was widely considered to be one of the most successful Agriculture Ministers in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Kalibata has held several other leadership positions, including Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture and Deputy Vice Chancellor of University of Rwanda. She also worked for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Uganda, and various other agricultural development organizations. She sits on various boards including the International Fertilizer Development Corporation (IFDC), Bioversity International, Africa Risk Capacity, the Malabo-Montpellier Panel, and is a member of the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum.
Dr. Kalibata has a distinguished track record as an agricultural scientist, policy maker and thought leader. She holds a doctorate in Entomology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Chairman and Founder, Econet and Board Chair, AGRA
Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group, a pan-African telecommunications, media and technology company with operations and investments in over 20 countries.
Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards including Unilever Plc, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Group, and the Hilton Foundation’s Humanitarian Prize Jury. Masiyiwa also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a position he took over after Kofi Annan’s term.
As a philanthropist, Masiyiwa is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which has supported the education of over 250,000 African orphans in 20 years. Their family foundation provides scholarships to over 40,000 African orphans every year.
Masiyiwa has been selected twice, in 2014 and 2017, to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”.
Over the last few years, Masiyiwa has devoted his time to mentoring the next generation of African entrepreneurs through his Facebook page, which has a growing followership of nearly 3-million young people from across the continent. Facebook has identified his platform as the most engaging of any business leader in the world.
Dr. Rajiv J. Shah
President, The Rockefeller Foundation
Dr. Shah brings over twenty years of experience in business, government, and philanthropy to The Rockefeller Foundation. Appointed as USAID Administrator by President Obama in 2009, and unanimously confirmed by the Senate, Dr. Shah was charged with reshaping the $20 billion agency’s operations to provide greater assistance to pressing development challenges around the globe.
By elevating the importance of innovation, promoting public-private partnerships, rethinking internal practices, and shifting how dollars were spent to deliver stronger results, Shah secured bipartisan support that enabled USAID to dramatically accelerate its work to end extreme poverty. Despite partisan gridlock on many issues, two significant Presidential priorities – Feed the Future and Power Africa – passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support and were signed into law by President Obama, and the Global Food Security Act is the second largest global development legislation after PEPFAR.
Shah’s work Shah’s work delivered results for countries facing democratic transitions, post-conflict situations, and humanitarian crises, and is widely credited with providing life-saving access to food, health, and water for millions of children across the planet.
Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn
President, The World Food Prize Foundation
Dr. Kenneth M. Quinn, former U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia, assumed the leadership of the World Food Prize Foundation on January 1, 2000, following his retirement from the State Department after a 32-year career in the Foreign Service.
Inspired by the vision of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, the founder of the World Food Prize, Ambassador Quinn has endeavored to build this annual $250,000 award into “the Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture.” Held each October in Des Moines on or around World Food Day (October 16), the World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony, Borlaug Dialogue international symposium and Global Youth Institute have grown in size and stature under his direction.
With the support of the John Ruan family, Dr. Quinn has led the campaign which successfully raised $29.8 million to restore the historic Des Moines Public Library and transform it into the World Food Prize Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Hall of Laureates. He provided the personal leadership to have the building designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, the highest possible level of energy efficiency and resource conservation.
More recently, he served as Chairman of the Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Statue Committee, leading the campaign that unveiled the statue of Dr. Borlaug on March 25, 2014. In addition, on May 30, 2014, Dr. Quinn was presented with the prestigious Iowa Award by the Governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad. The Iowa Award represents the state’s highest citizen award and is presented only once every few years. Recipients of the Iowa Award have included remarkable Iowans like President Herbert Hoover, Vice President Henry A. Wallace, Dr. Norman Borlaug, Mr. John Ruan Sr., and Professor George Washington Carver.
During his diplomatic career, Ken Quinn served: as a Rural Development advisor in the Mekong Delta; on the National Security Council staff at the White House; as Narcotics Counselor at the U.S. mission to the United Nations in Vienna; and for four years as Chairman of the U.S. Inter-agency Task Force on POW/MIAs. In 1979, while on the staff of Governor Robert Ray, he was the Director of Iowa SHARES, the humanitarian campaign that sent Iowa doctors, nurses, medical supplies and food to starving Cambodian refugees.
Dr. Quinn emerged from these experiences as one of the U.S. government’s foremost experts on Indochina. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the origins of the radical Pol Pot regime and is widely acknowledged as the first person anywhere to report, in 1974, on the genocidal policies of the Khmer Rouge. Twenty years later, while serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, his plan of agricultural enhancements and rural roads led to the final eradication of the Khmer Rouge.
A fluent speaker of Vietnamese during his diplomatic career, Dr. Quinn acted as interpreter for President Gerald Ford at the White House and personally negotiated the first ever entry by U.S. personnel into a Vietnamese prison to search for U.S. POW/MIAs. He was also a member of the first U.S. team to gain entry to a former Soviet prison in Russia.
Ambassador Quinn rose to become one of the most decorated Foreign Service officers of his generation, recognized for the important role he played in humanitarian endeavors, as well as for his actions in dangerous and violent situations.
His honors include:
The Secretary of State’s Award for Heroism and Valor for his efforts to protect American citizens exposed to danger in Cambodia, as well as the four lifesaving rescues in which he participated in Vietnam;
Being the only civilian to ever receive the U.S. Army Air Medal for his participation in helicopter combat operations in Vietnam;
Being the only Foreign Service officer ever to have three times received the American Foreign Service Association Rivkin and Herter Awards for intellectual courage in challenging policy.
Ambassador Quinn, a graduate of Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, has a M.A. in Political Science from Marquette University and a Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Maryland. He and his wife Le Son have three adult children.
Dr. Jennifer Blanke
Vice-President, Agricultural, Human and Social Development, AfDB
Dr. Jennifer Blanke is Vice-President Agriculture, Human and Social Development at the African Development Bank Group, responsible for overseeing the Bank’s strategy and activities in this area. She was previously Chief Economist at the World Economic Forum, overseeing economic research activities and projects. She has written and lectured extensively on issues related to national competitiveness. Blanke holds a doctoral degree in International Economics from the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as a Master of International Affairs and International Economic Policy from Columbia University in New York.. She is also presently a member of the Canadian government’s Council of Economic Growth and holds a number of non-executive board responsibilities in the not-for-profit sector.
Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze
Former President, IFAD & Inaugural Africa Food Prize Winner
Managing Director, Africa, The Rockefeller Foundation
Mamadou Biteye is the Managing Director for The Rockefeller Foundation Africa Regional Office. In this role, Biteye oversees the Foundation’s work across Africa, which includes initiatives in youth employment, health, philanthropy, agriculture and food security, among others.
Biteye has a wealth of expertise in the development sector in Africa. An agricultural economist by training, he has over twenty-five years’ experience in strategic leadership, program development and implementation, public policy analysis, advocacy and campaigning and community participatory development.
Some noteworthy achievements from his career include co-designing a micro-finance programme with Oxfam that is today improving the lives of over 700, 000 women in Mali and Senegal; Playing a key role in the development of policy processes in West Africa e.g. the ECOWAS’ Convention on Small Arms, and the ECOWAS’ regional mining directives. His accomplishments at the Foundation include executing Digital Jobs Africa, an initiative to connect Africa’s youth to jobs in the ICT sector; Leading the design and implementation of YieldWise, a $130m effort to halve post-harvest loss in Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria; At policy level, convening the Leadership for Agriculture (L4Ag) network of African ministers of agriculture and ministers of finance, a platform to enable them work better together to invest more to transform the sector; Co-creating PIATA, a new $280m Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa, among others.
Biteye is an honorary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), awarded for work done under Oxfam GB, where he had been Regional Director for West Africa before joining the Foundation. He is a member of several advisory boards, including the World Economic Forum’s Futures Council on Agriculture and Food Security.
H.E. Josefa Leonel Correia SACKO
Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission (AUC)
H.E. Madam Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, an Angolan national, is a leading African Agronomist. She was elected as the new Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission.
Prior to that, She was a Special Adviser to two Ministers in Angola, her home country: the Angolan Minister of Environment where she also served as Ambassador responsible for Climate Change. In the Department of the minister of Agriculture Mme Sacko oversaw Food Security, Eradication of Hunger and Poverty Reduction.
The former Secretary General of the Inter African Coffee Organization (IACO) for 13 years in Cote D’Ivoire where she represented Coffee economy for 25 African Coffee producing countries. During her tenure, she successfully advocated for the empowerment of small scale coffee farmers across the continent by setting up Regional Centres of Excellence for Capacity Building of Member States, on Genetic Material Conservation, Coffee Quality Improvement and Cup Tasting Liquor in Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Cameroon and Zambia.
Madam Sacko is one of the African Women Africa should be proud of, and she has built up her international profile and reputation by working with Regional, Global Institutional on Agriculture and many other sectors supported by World Trade Organization (WTO), African Union (AU), International Coffee Organization (ICO), African Development Bank (AFDB), African Bank for Export and Import (AFREXIMBANK), (FAO), UNECA, NEPAD etc. The other notable cooperation/partnerships she has worked with include the Regional Economic Communities (RECS), namely, SADC, COMESA, ECOWAS and EAC, where she has actively participated to address the challenges encountered by small scale farmers in Africa, ensuring that they remain a central focus in regional and national policy making for development. Madam Sacko speaks fluent Portuguese, French, English, Spanish and Lingala.
Senior Adviser and Head of Global Initiatives, Yara International
Arne Cartridge is a lead strategist and practitioner in developing public-private partnerships for a sustainable development. He is currently Senior Adviser and Head of Global Initiatives at Yara International. He previously held positions as the Executive Director of Grow Africa, Senior Director at the World Economic Forum, Executive Vice President with Yara International ASA, and has held senior management positions with Telenor, Gazette, and Digital Equipment Corp. Mr. Cartridge is the initiator of the African Green Revolution Forum and the Yara Prize, now the Africa Food Prize and is the Chair of the Farm to Market Alliance. Cartridge has served as the Chairman of the Board for the humanitarian organization CARE Norway, been on the board of CARE International and on the board of the Global Fairness Initiative, and been acting Managing Director for the Food and Land Use Initiative at the World Business Council on Sustainable Development.
Dr. Ousmane Badiane
Africa Director, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Dr. Ousmane Badiane, recipient of the Africa Food Prize in 2015 and a Distinguished Fellow of the African Association of Agricultural Economists, is the Director for Africa at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). He oversees the institute’s programs and partnerships in Africa. As an Advisor to the NEPAD Secretariat from 2004 to 2007, he was instrumental in developing and guiding the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). Before his current tenure at IFPRI, Dr. Badiane was Lead Specialist for Food and Agricultural Policy for the Africa Department at the World Bank and Adjunct Professor for Economics of Development in Africa at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Dr. Badiane received a Masters Degree and PhD in agricultural economics from the University of Kiel in Germany. He is also recipient of a Doctoral Degree Honoris Causa from the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa
Mr. Mostafa Terrab
Chairman and CEO of the OCP Group
Mr. Mostafa TERRAB has served since June 2008 as Chairman and CEO of the OCP Group, a global leader in the phosphate sector. After being appointed Director General of the Office Chérifien des Phosphates, OCP’s predecessor entity, in February 2006, he led its transformation from a state administration to a global corporation.
Mr. TERRAB’s distinguished career has spanned the public, private and university sectors and a range of expert fields. After an engineering degree from the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (Paris, France 1979), he received an M.S. (1982) and Ph.D. (1990) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Mr. TERRAB worked for Bechtel Civil and Minerals Inc. (1983/85) in San Francisco, California, as an analyst in transportation systems. From 1988 to 1990, he was a fellow of Draper Laboratory, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Between 1990 and 1992, he was an assistant professor at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, where he held joint appointments in the Department of Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Between 1992 and 1998, Mr. TERRAB was an advisor in the Royal Cabinet, Rabat, a period during which he also served as Secretary General of the Middle East/North Africa Economic Summit.
In 1998, he was appointed as the first Director General of the Moroccan National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ANRT). He joined the World Bank in 2002 as Lead Regulatory Specialist in the Global Information and Communications Department; he also headed the World Bank’s Information for Development (INFODEV) program.
Michael Hailu has been Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) since May 2010. He has more than 30 years of experience in agricultural research, communications and development in Africa and Asia. Prior to joining CTA, he held senior leadership positions at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya and at the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia.
Mr Hailu has implemented major strategic realignment of the CTA refocusing the Centre’s work on promoting innovations and capacities to advance youth and women entrepreneurship, digitalization and climate resilience in agriculture. He has degrees from the Universities of Pittsburgh, USA and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and has been trained in strategic leadership at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in the United States.
H.E Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete
Board Member, AGRA
His Excellency Former President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete served as the President of the United Republic of Tanzania for two terms. He holds a degree in Economics from the University of Dar es Salaam and started his career in the ruling party and the military, where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel before retiring from the army in 1992. He joined the Cabinet in 1988 and held several ministerial portfolios including Minister for Finance, Minister for Water, Energy and Mineral Resources and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. During his tenure in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he led Tanzania’s efforts to bring about peace in the Great Lakes region, particularly in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As Chairman of East African Community’s Council of Ministers, he played a pivotal role in moving forward the process of regional integration in East Africa, particularly the delicate negotiations of establishing a Customs Union between Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. He also Co-chaired the Helsinki Process on Globalization and Democracy with the Foreign Minister of Finland. In 2007, President Kikwete was elected Chairman of the SADC Organ on Security, Defense and Politics. On 31 January 2008, President Kikwete was elected Chairman of the African Union Assembly of Heads of States and Government, where he took a proactive role in the resolution of conflicts in the Republic of Kenya, the Comoros and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He also advanced to greater heights the relations between the AU and the UN, EU and International Community at large. He has completed his Chairmanship of the East African Community and it was during his tenure that the EAC signed and ratified the Protocol on the Common Market. He left negotiations on the Monetary Union at an advanced stage. On retirement he spends time in his home village of Msoga where he is a dairy farmer and Kiwangwa where he grows pineapples and papayas.
Prof. Richard Mkandawire
Director, Africa Secretariat Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) | Chairperson Malawi National Planning Commission.
Prof. Richard Mkandawire is a Socio-economist and a Rural Development expert. He is currently; the Director of the Alliance for African Partnership (AAP), Africa Secretariat and Chairman, Malawi Planning Commission. Before joining AAP, he worked as Vice President of the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) where he led a team of experts in driving innovative interventions for efficient and effective delivery of fertilizers among smallholder famers in Africa.
Prior to joining AFAP, Prof Mkandawire was Senior Advisor to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), where he was the principal architect in the design of NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) and a catalyzer for its acceptance by African Heads of State and Donor Agencies. During CAADP’s critical initial decade, he served as CAADP’s heart and soul, as well as its public face.
Prof Mkandawire academic career includes teaching and research at Bunda College of Agriculture (LUANAR) where he was at the helm of leadership in the establishment of the Centre for Agriculture Research and Development (CARD). He also served as an external examiner to a number of Universities in East and Southern Africa.
Prof. Mkandawire development initiatives have been recognized across the continent. In 2008 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Kwazulu Natal for his work in spearheading the CAADP agenda and in 2008 he was an awardee of “Drivers of Change” for his leadership in driving CAADP acceptance by African Heads of State and Government and development partners. In 2012 the University of Pretoria appointed him as “Extra-Ordinary Professor” for his contribution to spearheading agriculture transformation in Africa.
Gilbert F. Houngbo
President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
Gilbert F. Houngbo became the sixth President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on 1 April 2017. Born and raised in rural Togo, Houngbo has spent more than 30 years working to improve the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people, and has extensive experience in political affairs, international development, diplomacy and financial management.
Prior to his appointment as IFAD President, Houngbo was the Deputy Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), where he led field operations in more than 100 countries and managed bilateral and multilateral partnerships.
From 2008 to 2012, he served as Prime Minister of the Togolese Republic, where he introduced economic reforms and enhanced the rule of law and civil liberties. From 1996 to 2008, he undertook a number of roles at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), including Chief of Staff, Assistant Secretary-General and Africa Regional Director, and led poverty alleviation programmes in 45 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Before this, he spent a decade in the private sector, including at Price Waterhouse, Canada, where he worked in Audit and Financial Advisory Services.
Houngbo has a Matrîse en gestion des entreprises from the University of Lomé, Togo, and a Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures Spécialisées in Specialised Accounting from the University of Quebec, Canada. He is a member of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Professional Accountants.
Svein Tore Holsether
President & CEO - Yara International
Svein Tore Holsether (b. 1972) is President and Chief Executive Officer of Yara, a global crop nutrition leader with more than 17,000 employees worldwide. Mr. Holsether is passionate about promoting the Sustainable Development Goals in the global business arena. To contribute to a thriving future and drive inclusive growth he is a member of the Executive Committee for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). He also serves on the Executive Committee and Board of the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) and International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI). Previously, Mr. Holsether has held a range of executive and senior position in large industrial companies, and he was a Commissioner of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC). Mr. Holsether has a BSc degree, specializing in Finance & Management, from the University of Utah, USA.
Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin
CEO, Ethiopia Commodity Exchange
Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
AECF Board Member
Anne-Marie has over 25 years’ experience in African financial and private sector development, with Development Finance Institutions, Consulting/Advisory Firms and Private Equity Funds, managing investment and development finance projects in 32 African Anglo, Franco and Luso-phone countries. She has worked during the course of her career for the World Bank, DFID and other DFIs. She joined, Alitheia IDF Managers as a Principal Partner and Co-Founder, to raise a US $100 million Pan-African private equity fund, anchored by the African Development Bank, for growth SMEs focusing on women led business. In recent years, she was CEO of the Financial Sector Deepening-Mozambique (FSDMoç) fund, financed by the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID), now acting as Advisor. She was also given the mandate to manage a distressed US $20 million Pan African private equity portfolio for micro-finance, AfriCap Micro-finance Investment Company, returning capital to shareholders.
As a leader in development finance, she sits on the Boards of the USD310million Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, the Financial Sector Deepening Fund Africa, and Untu Micro-finance Bank-Zimbabwe. She is also an Africa Advisory Council Member of Women’s World Banking, past member of Making Finance Work for Africa-AfDB, and founding member of a Pan African network of Women in Finance, NFNV. Anne-Marie is a Zimbabwean, and holds a BSc Psychology, McGill University, Montreal and MA Economics, University of Toronto, Canada.
J. Scott Angle
President & CEO, International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC)
Dr. J. Scott Angle received his BS and MS at the University of Maryland in Agronomy and Soil Science, respectively. He obtained his PhD from the University of Missouri with an emphasis on Soil Microbiology.
Angle worked for 24 years as a Professor of Soil Science and administrator (Director of the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station and Maryland Cooperative Extension) at the University of Maryland. His early work focused on the study of losses of nutrients from agro-ecosystems, and their impact on the Chesapeake Bay. He also studied the impact of heavy metals on the food chain with the goal of protecting our food supply from these harmful elements. Later he concentrated his studies on phytoremediation, the use of plants for extraction of heavy metals from soil. In 2005, he moved to Athens, Georgia, where he served as Dean and Director of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia for 10 years. He is a fellow in the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America. He is also a Fulbright Fellow having worked at the Rothamsted (Research) Experimental Station, in the UK.
Currently, he is the President and CEO of the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), where he oversees a staff of over 800 and coordinates development projects in diverse regions of the world. IFDC provides solutions to alleviate global hunger and poverty through the promotion of economic development and self-sufficiency.
Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Food Security U.S. Agency for International Development
Sean Jones serves as the Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator in USAID’s Bureau for Food Security, which leads the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative. In this role, he oversees the strategic direction and implementation of Feed the Future programs in the field and the bureau’s efforts to engage and build partnerships with the private sector. Prior to joining BFS, he served as the Deputy Coordinator for Power Africa.
As a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Sean has also held various leadership positions throughout USAID. In Mexico, Sean served as Mission Director, where he focused programming on public-private partnerships, justice reform, anti-corruption, and citizen security. In Yemen, he led the Mission’s technical program, designing and initiating a stabilization strategy that integrated health, education, economic reform, governance, and rapid response investments to help strengthen formal and informal governance structures. In Colombia, Sean oversaw the whole-of-government alternative development program that yielded significant gains in control over ungoverned territories and growth and agriculture reconstruction program. In Iraq, he directed the Agency’s economic growth and agriculture reconstruction program. In Jordan, he managed new program designs, economic policy, and youth engagement initiatives. Sean began his USAID career as a Presidential Management Fellow, working on project finance and the creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Before joining USAID, Sean was a strategic consultant, trade analyst, and business operations specialist in the United States and in China. He holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan. He speaks Spanish and is conversational in Arabic and Japanese.
Fred is deeply passionate about Africa and believes that the missing ingredient on the continent is good leadership. In line with this, he has co-founded three organizations that aim to catalyze a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial African leaders: African Leadership Academy, African Leadership Network, and African Leadership University. Collectively, these institutions aim to groom 3 million leaders for Africa over a 50-year period. A passionate entrepreneur, Fred also served as Founder and CEO of Terra Education, a global education company that today provides leadership training to about 4,000 people annually at 46 sites in 20 countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Prior to his work in education, Swaniker co-founded Synexa Life Sciences, a biotechnology company with operations in Cape Town, Berlin, London, and Dublin. Prior to launching his entrepreneurial pursuits, Swaniker worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company in South Africa. Swaniker has been recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and was listed by Forbes Magazine among the top ten young ‘power men’ in Africa.
Fred has an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where he was named an Arjay Miller Scholar, a distinction awarded to the top 10% of each graduating class. He holds a BA in Economics with a minor in Mathematical Statistics from Macalester College (magna cum laude). He was born in Ghana but has lived and worked in about 10 different African countries.
President and CEO of Asia Society
Josette Sheeran is the seventh President and CEO of Asia Society, a global think tank founded in 1956 by John D Rockefeller 3rd, responsible for advancing the organization’s global work in the fields of diplomacy, policy and business, arts and culture, and education. Ms. Sheeran also serves as the UN Special Envoy to Haiti, representing the UN Secretary General in advancing Haiti’s 2030 vision and in helping secure an end to the transmission of cholera in Haiti.
Sheeran is former vice chair of the World Economic Forum, where she helped advance global initiatives such as Grow Africa, which has attracted $10 billion to end hunger and malnutrition in Africa. From 2006-2011, Sheeran was executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme. Under her leadership, WFP launched transformational programs to reduce dependency on food aid, including Purchasing for Progress. Prior to WFP, Sheeran served as a U.S. diplomat and negotiator.
Dr. Christian Witt
Senior Program Officer Soil Health, Agricultural Development, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Dr. Christian Witt is Senior Program Officer in the Agricultural Development team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He provides strategic direction on innovation in soil health, agronomy, and fertilizer managing a related portfolio of grants aimed at increasing soil fertility and productivity in smallholder farming of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Prior to joining the foundation, he was scientist and project manager in international agricultural research with 17+ years of experience in plant nutrition and soil nutrient management in the tropics.
Witt spent most of his career working in Asia. He was Director of the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) Southeast Asia based in Singapore and Malaysia from 2004 to 2009 after a long career at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines where he started his Ph.D. research in 1993. Witt holds a doctorate degree in Biology from Justus-von-Liebig University, Germany (1997).