Africa transforming

17 June 2019 - 13:45 - 18:30
Samir Abdelkrim, Sandra Ajaja, Kamissa Camara, Boutheina Guermazi, Yonas Maru, Louison Mbombo, Sabine Müller, Fattoum Nasser, Dorcas Onyango, Samson Sithole, Sihle Tshabalala, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, Ali Youssouf, Shada Islam

Held on the eve of the European Development Days, this high-level conference will look at the challenges and opportunities Africa and Europe must grapple with to ensure resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth.

Africa and Europe are in the midst of a massive transformation of their economic, political and social structures. While many welcome these changes, others fear being left behind, prompting societal anxieties and possible social unrest. This is creating a politics which could undermine the very policies that will address the challenges at hand. Europe and Africa can learn much from each other on tackling these and other challenges. This requires, however, that both agree to engage in a partnership of shared objectives and interests.

This event is part of our Development Policy Forum (DPF), which brings together a number of important development actors, including the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the United Nations and the World Bank. Reflecting the growing role of the private sector in development, the DPF has now welcomed Coca-Cola and Eni to the forum. The DPF contributes to the global and European conversation on inclusive development. Through its activities and publications, the DPF reflects the rapidly-changing global debate on growth and development and seeks to encourage a multi-stakeholdered, fresh, up-to-date thinking on the multiple challenges facing the development community.

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PHOTO CREDIT:  borgognielsAnkevanwyk - UN Women/Ryan Brown - dolgachov

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The Development Policy Forum (DPF) led by Friends of Europe brings together a number of crucial development actors. This includes the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the United Nations and the World Bank. Reflecting the growing role of the private sector in development, the DPF has now welcomed Coca-Cola to the forum.


Europe’s relationship with Asia and Africa has expanded beyond the traditional focus on development, trade, and security. Reflecting the changed geopolitical landscape and the increased global role of emerging economies, the focus of the EU and Friends of Europe is now also on Europe’s interaction with its global partners on climate change, connectivity and implementation of Agenda 2030 as well as terrorism and radicalisation. Our programmes and activities track these conversations – and foresee new ones - through publications and events that aim to make sense of our changing world.


Welcome coffee and registration of participants




Despite the outdated perception that Africa lags behind the rest of the world technologically, the continent is a vibrant landscape for innovation and entrepreneurship. Africa is home not only to the world’s largest population of 15- to 24-year-olds, but also to numerous tech start-ups – many of which are youth-led and having great impact on the ground. 

This series of 5 conversation tables will be an opportunity for both European and African stakeholders to have a fruitful interaction and exchange innovative ideas with the leaders of African tech start-ups who are changing the narrative about their continent. 

Seats will be attributed on a first come, first served basis and upon prior registration.

1– Turning Libyan women into entrepreneurs via homemade food
Fattoum Nasser, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Yummy!, Libya 
2– In Chad, only 6.4% of the population has access to electricity. Solar power can change this
Youssouf  Ali, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kouran Jabo, Chad
3– From crime to computers: offering a route out of poverty and incarceration for Ex-offenders and at-risk youth through digital education 
Sihle Tshabalala, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Quirky 30, South Africa
4– Driving innovation through female leadership and collaborative economy 
Sandra Ajaja, Founder of FemPower Africa, Nigeria
5– Implementing data analytics and machine learning to advance in Malaria prevention and research worldwide 
Louison Mbombo, Founder of Solidariedade Na Mokili, Democratic Republic of the Congo




Africa and Europe are engaged in a dynamic new conversation which goes far beyond their traditional, under-performing, donor-recipient relationship. With the focus shifting from aid to trade and investments, the potential of the new African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), and the numerous connecting projects across the continent, what should be the key elements of an Africa-EU partnership based on jointly identified, mutual and complementary interests?




Peace, security and good governance are pre-requisites for development and social cohesion. So is gender equality. Over the years, African governments, regional and sub-regional organisations have made significant commitments towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. Following the adoption of the African Union Gender Policy in 2009, African leaders launched the African Women’s Decade 2010-2020 and the Fund for African Women to accelerate the implementation of all commitments on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Women hold close to one-third of parliamentary seats in 11 African countries, with Rwanda often spotlighted as the poster child for gender equality. However, almost all African Union envoys to conflict zones are men despite evidence that when peace agreements are negotiated by women, they are more durable and sustainable.

  • Are African governments implementing the right policies to encourage female leadership and the participation of women in politics, business and societies?
  • What can be done to ensure women’s participation in peacekeeping, conflict resolution and reconciliation? 
  • Which specific actions are needed to bring more women into leadership positions in African?

Speakers include
Kamissa Camara
, Minister of Digital Economy and Prospective of Mali
Dorcas Onyango, Sustainability Director for South and East Africa at The Coca-Cola Company
Samson Sithole, Chief Executive Officer of the Eswatini Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise (ESWADE), Eswatini

Moderated by
Shada Islam
, Director for Europe and Geopolitics at Friends of Europe


Coffee Break


17:15 -18:30


By 2030, Sub-Saharan Africa will be home to more than one-quarter of the world’s under-25 population. These young people represent a demographic opportunity but can only play a constructive and productive role if they acquire the skills required to meet the demands of the future. With new technologies expected to create 2.1mn new jobs by 2020, African youth need relevant new skills including not only digital literacy but also creativity, critical thinking, flexibility and leadership. If they succeed, Africa will be able to tap the full potential of digital technologies. This revolution is already reshaping the continent by generating new market opportunities, improving firms’ productivity and enhancing Africa’s comparative advantage in global production networks. Digital connectivity is also transforming access to health and education and shifting relations between state and citizens. 

  • What skills are required in the workforce to realise the full economic benefits of digitalisation?
  • Are governments doing enough to bridge the geographic, demographic, speed and gender connectivity disparities to allow everyone to benefit from the digital revolution? 
  • How can Africa and Europe work together to improve African millennials’ access to skills for the future? 

Speakers include 
Samir Abdelkrim
, Author, Entrepreneur, Founder of EMERGING Valley, France
Boutheina Guermazi, Director for the Digital Development Department of the Infrastructure Practice Group at the World Bank
Yonas Maru, Founder and Managing Director of Bandwidth & Cloud Services Group (BCS Group), Kenya
Sabine Müller, Director-General of the Africa Department at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, Chief Executive Officer of the Tony Elumelu Foundation

Moderated by
Shada Islam
, Director for Europe and Geopolitics at Friends of Europe


End of summit

Samir Abdelkrim
Author, Entrepreneur and Founder of EMERGING Valley
As both an entrepreneur and a consultant, Samir Abdelkrim is an expert on African innovation. Abdelkrim is the Founder of EMERGING Valley, an international summit on African innovation and emerging technologies he created in Marseille and thecamp after a thorough, 3 year-long exploration of African start-up ecosystems. From 2014 to 2018, Abdelkrim travelled across 25 African countries and analysed their respective digital economies and opportunities. His experiences there culminated in the publication of his book, Startup Lions. Abdelkrim is also a columnist on African tech and regularly speaks out on national newspapers like Le Point, The Huffington Post, Les Echos and Le Monde. He is also the founder of StartupBRICS.
Sandra Ajaja
Founder of FemPower Africa
Sandra Ajaja is the founder of FemPower Africa, a social enterprise that seeks to teach women in Nigeria and Africa about technology, leadership and entrepreneurship. Since its inception in 2017, FemPower Africa has grown to over 2,000 members, supported 52 women-owned business (achieving funding for 10), and has trained over 2,000 individuals in 3 countries. Prior to FemPower, Ajaja worked as an educational technology consultant. She is passionate about the African Tech ecosystem, driving innovation through thought leadership, pushing a collaborative economy and building strong communities.
Kamissa Camara
Minister of Digital Economy and Prospective of Mali
Kamissa Camara joined the Malian Government as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, becoming both the youngest person and the first woman to hold such a post, before moving to her current role in the Malian Cabinet. Prior to that, she served as Diplomatic Advisor to President Keïta. Camara is the founder of the Sahel Strategy Forum, an initiative that brings together different voices to debate the complexities of governance in the Sahel region. She also worked as the Vice-Director for Central and West Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy.
Boutheina Guermazi
Director of the Digital Development Department of the Infrastructure Practice Group of the World Bank
Boutheina Guermazi leads a global team working on building digital economies in developing countries. The team covers a wide range of digital developments, including broadband networks, mobile networks, cloud infrastructure, internet of things and big data analytics. Prior to this role, she was Practice Manager of Digital Development for Africa and the Middle East. Guermazi also leads the Digital Development Partnership, a fund focusing on global digital development. She is also a member of the EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force, jointly launched by the European Commission and the African Union.
Yonas Maru
Founder and Managing Director of Bandwidth & Cloud Services Group (BCS Group)
Building on his extensive experience in private equity, investment banking and software engineering, Yonas Maru founded BCS Group in 2009. BCS Group is a wholesale telecom infrastructure provider in East Africa that aims to provide users with a first-rate internet experience at a low price. Prior to founding BCS Group, Maru was responsible for the business development of securitisation transactions at Kingdom Zephyr Africa Management.
Louison Mbombo
Founder of Solidariedade Na Mokili
Louison Mbombo is a medical student at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, and the founder of the Mbombo Initiative Against Malaria (Solidariedade Na Mokili) non-profit organisation. His initiative works in partnership with Google and Microsoft to implement data analytics and machine learning to advance in malaria prevention and research. Since its creation, the initiative has reached over 10mn people, through raising money for treatment, providing health education to families and health professionals, and distributing mosquito nets. For his outstanding achievements, Mbombo was awarded with the best project to prevent childhood malaria death in 27 countries by UNESCO.
Sabine Müller
Director-General of the Africa Department at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Having accumulated almost thirty years of experience working at GIZ, Sabine Müller now leads the Africa Department. Prior to this role, she was Director-General of the Sectoral Department and a number of regional divisions. Müller spent her first years at GIZ in Latin America, where she was involved in a long-term project on sustainable land use with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture.
Fattoum Nasser
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Yummy!
Only one of every four women in Libya is legally employed, according to the World Bank. Fattoum Nasser set out to change that, with the help of Yummy!, the app she co-founded and runs with her business partner, Azeeza Adam. Born out of an experience of hunger during a digital workshop, Yummy! aims to give women the opportunity to grow their own business by selling their own, homemade food. Yummy! acts as a mediator, allowing the business to avoid direct contact with its clients, ensuring safe and on time delivery without forcing women to travel into unsafe areas.
Dorcas Onyango
Sustainability Director for South and East Africa at The Coca-Cola Company
With almost 10 years’ experience at The Coca-Cola Company, Dorcas Onyango has an extremely broad skillset, of which development expertise, project management and stakeholder engagement are inclusive. Prior to this, she was Director of Programmes and Implementation at The Coca-Cola Company, also in addition to her role as Marketing and Communications Manager at the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation. She is passionate about gender equality, access to education and youth empowerment, having successfully led civil society, government and private sector partners to design, implement and measure Pan-African initiatives such as RAIN, which has improved access to water for 2 million people in Africa.
Samson Sithole
Chief Executive Officer of the Eswatini Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise (ESWADE)
As Chief Executive Officer of ESWADE, Samson Sithole aspires to empower communities and improve their quality of life through commercial agriculture projects. With an extensive background in rural development, water infrastructure and climate resilience, Sithole is currently working on the Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project Programme in Eswatini. By transforming subsistence farmers into commercial farmers, the project improves the standard of living in the area and sets up a sustainable and gender-inclusive environment.
Sihle Tshabalala
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Quirky 30 NPC and Quirky Innovations PTY/LTD
Sihle Tshabalala is an entrepreneur, an award-winning speaker and an Ex-offender. After leaving prison, he taught himself how to code and went on to co-found Brothers for All, a non-profit social enterprise aiming to end the cycle of poverty and crime in South Africa. Tshabalala became a key voice in his community and a game changer in teaching coding and entrepreneurship to high school dropouts, teenage parents, unemployed youth, Ex-offenders and offenders. His current project, Quirky 30, aims to up-skill at-risk and unemployed youth, offering career opportunities in web development as a route away from poverty.
Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu
Chief Executive Officer of the Tony Elumelu Foundation
Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu holds the distinction of being the first African to be appointed Chief Executive Officer of The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Africa’s leading philanthropy initiative. Prior to that, she was Director of Partnerships & Evaluations at the Foundation, developing its institutional framework for partnerships to scale the impact of the TEF Entrepreneurship programme and to empower over 10,000 entrepreneurs. The resulting strategic partnerships with governments, development finance institutions, multilaterals and private organisations led to a record-breaking selection of 3,050 entrepreneurs in 2019.
Ali Youssouf
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kouran Jabo
Returning to his native Chad after working as a consultant for start-ups in both Paris and Dubai, Youssouf Ali was inspired to set up Kouran Jabo after seeing the enduring dependence on kerosene lamps and candles for light in Ndjamena. The company, whose name means ‘power is back’ in Arabic, aims to deliver clean electricity via solar panels to lower-income families across Central Africa. With over 100 solar kits installed in Ndjamena, Kouran Jabo’s next step is to move into the provinces.
Shada Islam
Director for Europe & Geopolitics
Shada Islam is responsible for policy oversight of Friends of Europe’s initiatives, activities and publications. She has special responsibility for issues related to the Future of Europe, Migration, the Asia Programme and the Development Policy Forum. Shada is Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Natolin) where she teaches Asia-Europe relations and has been selected as a fellow by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). She has been named as one of twenty most influential women in Brussels by Politico. Shada is the former Europe correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review and has previously worked on Asian and Migration issues at the European Policy Centre. She is one of the authors of Friends of Europe’s much-read “Frankly Speaking” commentary and is sought after as a speaker, commentator, columnist and moderator at high-level European and global events. Shada also continues to write on EU foreign and security policy, EU-Asia relations and trade and development issues for leading Asian, European and international publications and academic journals.

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This event is exclusively for Friends of Europe’s members, EU institution representatives and media.
For more information, please contact Augusta Ramaccioni, Programme Executive at Friends of Europe.

Augusta Ramaccioni, Programme Executive
Tel.: +32 (0)2 893 98 23 

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