Friends of Europe is a proud co-founder of the Africa-Europe Foundation. The Africa-Europe Foundation was founded by Friends of Europe and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, in partnership with the African Climate Foundation and the ONE Campaign, and with a multitude of stakeholders from civil society, business, policymaking and the youth sector across Africa and Europe.

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Strategy Groups

Hastings Chikoko
Hastings Chikoko

Managing Director, Regions and Mayoral Engagement / Regional Director for Africa at the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group

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Hastings Chikoko has over 25 years’ experience in the sustainable development sector working in Africa and Switzerland. At C40, he cooperates with a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. Chikoko also serves on various advisory and supervisory boards, including the African Centre for Cities and the Global Future Council on Clean Air of the World Economic Forum. His work with local governments started at the City of Blantyre in Malawi. He has also worked for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), including as Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, and Head of IUCN in South Africa.

Jon Lezamiz Cortazar
Jon Lezamiz Cortazar

Global Head of Public Affairs at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy

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Jon Lezamiz Cortazar has over 15 years of experience in the energy sector, having held leading roles in power solutions for various Africa-focused initiatives and programmes. At Siemens Gamesa, he is responsible for the design and execution of the company’s global public affairs strategy. He was previously a member of the European Commission Task Force on Sustainable Energy Investment and currently chairs the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) Africa task force.

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Brian Dames

Chief Executive of African Rainbow Energy & Power (AREP)

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Brian Dames is a leading figure in the African energy sector, having held a number of different senior capacities in the field. As head of Eskom, Dames gained experience in the operations and management of a large national company, later moving to leading roles in international and local business. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on the Future of Energy, a former member of the Administrative Board of Sustainable Energy for All, and Non-Executive Director of the Nedbank Group and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

Anton Eberhard
Anton Eberhard

Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar at the University of Cape Town

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Anton Eberhard is an expert with over 35 years of experience in the energy sector in Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions. His research and teaching focus on governance and regulatory incentives to improve utility performance, the political economy of power sector reform, power investment challenges, renewable and distributed energy resources. Eberhard is also a member of the Global Commission to End Energy Poverty. He was appointed by the President of South Africa to chair a task team to resolve serious financial and technical challenges in the national utility, Eskom.

Tariye Gbadegesin
Tariye Gbadegesin

Managing Director and CEO of ARM-Harith Infrastructure Investment LTD

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An investment professional with over 20 years’ experience in finance, principal investments, and infrastructure, Tariye has mobilized over US$3 billion of capital for infrastructure projects in Africa. Tariye is also a member of the Advisory Council of the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Washington D.C., the Advisory Committee on Infrastructure for the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI), and the Technical Working Group on Finance and Investment for the United Nations High Level Dialogue on Energy (UN HLDE). Tariye was on the founding team to establish the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), where she led the US$800 million Industrial and Telecommunications Infrastructure business unit. Her global experience includes roles at the International Monetary Fund, the Boston Consulting Group, & Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Mansoor Hamayun
Mansoor Hamayun

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bboxx

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Mansoor Hamayun is a young entrepreneur and a passionate advocate for sustainable and affordable energy. Aiming to transform the lives of millions, Hamayun founded Bboxx, a company that develops, manufactures and distributes solar energy solutions to developing countries across Africa and Asia. He now leads its global operations in providing communities and businesses with energy access.

Connie Hedegaard
Connie Hedegaard

Chair of green think tank CONCITO of the KR Foundation and of the OECD's Round Table for Sustainable Development; former European Commissioner for Climate Action; former Danish minister for the environment and for climate and energy; and Trustee of Friends of Europe

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Connie Hedegaard holds several leading positions in support of a low-carbon and green economy. She was appointed Lead of the Mission on ‘Adaptation to Climate Change including Societal Transformation’ for Horizon Europe and also chairs the Board of the KR Foundation, a Danish climate and sustainability foundation. Hedegaard was also the European commissioner for climate action, in which role she led the negotiations for the adoption of the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework and the 2050 Roadmap for moving towards a low-carbon economy, whilst also representing the EU in international climate negotiations.

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Amar Inamdar

Managing Director of KawiSafi Ventures

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Amar Inamdar is an investor, scientist and entrepreneur from East Africa. He brings over 25 years of private sector experience of building markets and businesses in emerging economies. He is an active board representative on a diverse portfolio of technology-driven companies, having previously managed projects at the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank, before joining the new business team at Royal Dutch Shell to drive growth in domestic African energy markets.

Magdalena Kouneva
Magdalena Kouneva

Member of the Africa Europe Foundation Strategy Group on Energy and Independent Expert Working on Innovative Climate and Green Finance Instruments

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With over 15 years of relevant professional experience, Magdalena Kouneva specialises in developing financial instruments and building green capacities. For the last ten years, Kouneva was the UN Development Programme (UNDP) advisor for development finance in Rwanda, Malawi, and Papua New Guinea. More recently, Kouneva has focused her efforts on supporting the European Commission’s European Fund for Sustainable Development. She has helped introduce a new generation of EU guarantees for private sector operations in Africa and EU-neighbouring countries.

Helen Mountford
Helen Mountford

Vice-President for Climate & Economics at the World Resources Institutes (WRI)

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Helen Mountford is an environmental economist focused on helping governments, companies and civil society address climate change. Mountford previously worked as Deputy Director of Environment for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), where she headed the work on green fiscal reform, climate change finance and economics, fossil fuel subsidy reforms, water pricing, biodiversity incentive measures, and economy-environment outlooks and modelling.

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Damilola Ogunbiyi

Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy

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Damilola Ogunbiyi is a sustainable energy advocate and Co-Chair of UN-Energy. She is also a Commissioner for the Global Commission to End Energy Poverty. Before joining SEforALL, Ogunbiyi was the first female Managing Director of the Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency, where she successfully negotiated the construction of solar mini-grids and the deployment of home systems across Nigeria. She also worked as a Senior Special Assistant to the Nigerian President Buhari on Power and was the first female to be appointed as the General Manager of the Lagos State Electricity Board.

Sheila Oparaocha
Sheila Oparaocha

International Coordinator and Programme Manager at the Energia International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy

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Sheila Oparaocha has eighteen years of working experience in the gender and energy sector. Sheila is the International Coordinator and Programme Manager of the ENERGIA International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy. She manages ENERGIA’s international programmes, planning, monitoring, reporting and liaising with ENERGIA’s donors. Sheila also provides technical support to ENERGIA’s activities on women entrepreneurship development, gender mainstreaming in energy programmes, international policy advocacy, research and evidence development, network building and knowledge management. Sheila co-chairs the Sustainable Development Goal 7 Technical Advisory Group that has been convened by UNDESA to review progress on SDG 7 and it interlinkages with other SDGs for the 2018 High level Political Forum.

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Ignacio Perez-Arriaga

Visiting Professor, MIT Energy Initiative; Professor and Director of Energy Training, Florence School of Regulation

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Ignacio Perez-Arriaga is a professor of engineering, economics and regulation of the electric power sector. He has worked in the design of institutions, market rules, transmission regulation, contracting and implementation of regional and multinational electricity markets. Perez-Arriaga is a consultant and lecturer in more than 40 countries, visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), professor at the Florence School of Regulation and Comillas University and founder of its Institute for Research in Technology (IIT). He holds numerous fellowships at engineering and energy commissions across Europe.

Koen Peters
Koen Peters

Executive Director of GOGLA

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A strong believer in making market solutions work for the public good, Koen Peters’ 25-year career has been filled with various private and public sector roles to support sustainable and green business development. He is a firm advocate of the off-grid solar industry, seeing it as the best route towards universal energy access. Prior to joining GOGLA, Peters worked as renewable energy expert within the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he focused on development assistance programmes promoting energy access across Africa.

Jeffree Rugare
Jeffree Rugare

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Global Solar

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Jeffree Rugare’s mission is to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for people throughout rural Zimbabwe. At Global Solar, he aims to promote affordable technology powered by renewable energy. Rugare is a financial expert whose skills have helped formulate influential business models. Currently, he is researching corporate governance and financing issues in the energy and mining industries case of Zimbabwe. He also offers business consultancy services to small and medium enterprises in the energy, mining and health sectors.

Continue to Partners

Founded by

  • Friends of Europe

    The think tank for a more inclusive, sustainable and forward-thinking Europe. Friends of Europe is Brussels' most innovative think-tank, and for two decades has been showcasing new ideas on Europe's future while challenging outdated ones.

  • Mo Ibrahim Foundation

    The Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) is an African foundation, established in 2006 with one focus: the critical importance of governance and leadership in Africa. It is our conviction that governance and leadership lie at the heart of any tangible and shared improvement in the quality of life of African citizens.

In partnership with

  • The ONE Campaign

    The ONE Campaign, a global movement and international not-for-profit organisation that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease.

  • The African Climate Foundation

    The African Climate Foundation is the first African-led strategic climate change grant-making foundation


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