Africa: Imagining New Frontiers for Collaboration revisits the enduring, yet dynamic and elusive, concept of "Pan-Africanism" as it takes shape in the twenty-first century and invites conversations on the increasing importance of cross-border and international cooperation and partnership for the continent. The conference will explore creative, collaborative approaches to African challenges and opportunities. These include governance and human rights, education, infrastructure, public health, gender and income inequality, Africa's economies and urban development.
The conference will bring together policy makers, innovative business leaders, accomplished academics, leaders of civil society organizations and other distinguished individuals to foster productive dialogue about Africa's future.
The conference endeavors to move beyond raising awareness about the challenges facing Africa by highlighting innovative thinking and promoting those who are working to effect real change in their country or throughout the continent. We hope the conference attendees will leave with a sense of excitement and purpose regarding the continent and its role in the world. Importantly, in the spirit of this year's theme, we hope that conference attendees will discover new opportunities for collaboration and be inspired to take part in Africa's future.
Listed Among Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women In The World
Mrs. Folorunso Alakija is a businesswoman who has forayed into uncharted territories. She is a philanthropist with a sincere desire to help the needy, a fashion icon with an infallible sense of style, a loving wife, a caring mother and doting grandmother, a friend in deed. Educated in Europe, she first embarked on a career in office administration, then she went into banking where she remained, until she took a leap of faith and followed her heart and creative calling to establish her own business in the Nigerian fashion industry. Her fashion house “Supreme Stitches” rose to prominence and fame within a few years, and rebranded as “Rose of Sharon House of Fashion” which later became a household name.
As National President and lifelong Trustee of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), she left an indelible mark, promoting Nigerian culture through fashion and style. Ever the entrepreneur, Mrs. Alakija has set up related businesses: The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions which specializes in monogramming, heat/picture transfer and screen printing for promotional and gift items and Digital Reality Print Ltd which specializes in highly technical digital large format printing. She remains the only female in that industry in Nigeria to date. She included a direct imaging paper printing press to coincide with her 60th birthday in July 2011. She oversees the Rose of Sharon Group as the Group Managing Director and she is also the Executive Vice Chairman of her family's oil exploration and production business, FAMFA Oil Limited , seeing to its strategic planning and day to day administration. In addition to these, Folorunso is the Executive Vice Chairman of Dayspring Property Development Company Limited, a real estate company with investments in different parts of the world.
When reflecting on her achievements, Folorunso's foremost reaction is always to give glory to God through Jesus Christ and to share the secrets of her success. A born again Christian since 1991, she draws her strength from her unfaltering belief in the power and glory of God. With a sincere desire to give to those in need in the name of the Lord, her philanthropic endeavours, such as the Rose of Sharon Foundation, continues to influence her native land positively by empowering widows and their families, as well as orphans, to be successful through educational programmes and scholarships. In obedience to the word of God and working according to His will and purpose, Folorunso and her husband founded a house fellowship which has grown to become a full-fledged Christian Ministry known as the Rose of Sharon Glorious Ministry International. She has authored several books including, “University of Marriage”, “Alone with God”, (a free Christian Devotional) her autobiography, “Growing with the Hand that Gives the Rose”, and “The Cry of Widows and Orphans”. Most of them are available online at – www.amazon.com.
At 64, Mrs. Alakija oversees her businesses and philanthropic enterprises working tirelessly and with boundless energy. She follows her evangelical calling with unbridled devotion, hoping to inspire the public, most especially the youth and women from all walks of life by sharing her values and her motto: “whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well” through motivational talks and speeches. In her speeches, as an encouragement to others, she reveals and introduces her covenant keeping God.
She accepts many invitations to speak and is acclaimed, nationally and internationally, in recognition of all her philanthropic work and endeavours. She has 5 Honorary Degree Awards from universities in Nigeria and the United States of America.
She lives in Lagos, Nigeria with Modupe Alakija her beloved husband of almost four decades, their four sons and grandchildren
THULISILE (THULI) MADONSELA
Forbes africa person of the year 2016.
"South Africa's Public Protector who faced death threats in her quest to bring inconsistencies to the fore."
Adv Thulisile (Thuli) Nomkhosi Madonsela was appointed as Public Protector SA by the President on the recommendation of Parliament with effect from 15 October 2009. At the time of her appointment, Adv Madonsela was the only full-time Commissioner in the South African Law Reform Commission. Before then she held various leadership positions in civil society and the public sector. These include membership of the inaugural Commission for Commission for Employment Equity and the Steering Committee of the legal Services Charter and various executive management positions in the Department of Justice and constitutional Development.
One of the 11 Technical Experts that assisted the Constitutional Assembly in drafting South Africa’s new Constitution, Adv Madonsela is a human rights lawyer, equality expert, constitutional analyst and policy specialist, who holds a BA Law and LLB degrees. She has also done post graduate studies in various areas of the law, including Constitutional Law, Equality, Administrative Justice and Developmental Law. Her post graduate studies include executive leadership courses in areas such as leadership, strategic planning, project management and ADR.
She is the co-architect of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, the Employment Equity act and Local Government Transition act. She has also contributed to laws such as the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, Repeal of the Black Administration Act, Recognition of Customary Marriages Act and the reform of Customary Law and Related matters Act. She has played a central role in the drafting of various transformational policies and related instruments, which include Justice Vision 2000, the Victims Charter, National Gender Policy Framework and the policy framework that formed the basis of the Ministry for Women, Children and Disability Affairs.
She has written extensively, published and provided training on various aspects of the law, equality and human rights in general. Her work includes co-authoring the Bench Book for Equality Courts, a Resource Book for Equality Court Clerks, a Legal advice Handbook on Family Law and Related Matters and handbooks on Gender Management, gender mainstreaming and Leadership.
Born in Johannesburg, to a working class family, in 1962, Adv. Madonsela has had extensive involvement in international human rights work, which has included the drafting of certain instruments, drafting of country reports and participating in country delegations to various international conferences and related fora.
HIS EXCELLENCY, JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA
4th President Of The 4th Republic Of Ghana
H.E. John Dramani Mahama was the 4th President of the Fourth Republic of Ghana. He was popularly elected for a four-year term (January 07 2013 – January 06 2017) on December 07, 2012.
President Mahama had previously served as Vice President of the Republic of Ghana under the late President John Evans Atta Mills. He took over the reins of Government on the passing of President Mills on July 24, 2012, and assumed the role of Head of State, Head of Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
Ghana, under President Mahama witnessed a massive infrastructure development drive that has solidly positioned the country for its next phase of development as a Lower Middle Income Country. At the end of his term in office, HE John Dramani Mahama guided the country through a peaceful transition that demonstrated the strength and robustness of Ghana as a democratic example.
President Mahama was born in Damongo in what is now the Damongo-Daboya Constituency of Ghana on the 29th of November 1958 and he attended primary school at the Achimota School in Accra, then the Ghana Secondary School in Tamale where he studied for his Ordinary and Advanced level GCE Certificates. Thereafter, he attended the University of Ghana, Legon where he read History, and received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1981.
He furthered his education by embarking on Post Graduate Studies in Communication also at the University of Ghana, in the School of Communication Studies, which he completed in 1986. His thirst for knowledge took him to Moscow, Russia for a Post Graduate Diploma in Social Psychology from the Institute of Social Sciences.
John Mahama is an avid reader, author and historian. Over the course of his career he has written for several newspapers and authored a number of publications. He published his first book, a memoir entitled ‘My First Coup D'etat and other true stories from the lost decades of Africa’.
John Mahama considers the combination of the study of history, communications and social psychology as having had a profound impact on shaping his views, thoughts and understanding of the human condition and have contributed significantly to making him the person he is today.
The President first contested to serve as a Member of Parliament for the Bole-Bamboi Constituency in 1996, and won on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). He was re-elected to Parliament two more times in the year 2000, and 2004 prior to becoming the Vice-Presidential Candidate for the Party in 2008.
During his first term of Office as an MP he was appointed Deputy Minister of Communications, and subsequently appointed substantive Minister. He was the first Chairman of the National Communications Authority and in that capacity played a key role in shaping Ghana's telecommunication's sector after deregulation.
During the NDC Administration of 1996-2000 he was also a member of the economic management team, and played a key role in the publicity committee for the re-introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT).
When the NDC Government left office in January 2001 he served as the Minority Spokesman for Communications in Parliament from 2001 to 2004, the Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs from 2005 to 2008, and as a Member of the Pan African Parliament.
On 30 March 2014, he was elected by the Assembly of Heads of Statesin West Africa to preside over ECOWAS. On 26 June 2014, he was elected Chairperson of the African Union’s (AU’s) High-Level African Trade Committee (HATC).
On 21 January 2016 on the occasion of the World Economic Forum in Davos, H.E became co-chair of the SDG’s Advocates group which consists of 17 eminent persons assisting the UN Secretary-General in the campaign to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that world leaders unanimously adopted in September 2015. With a mandate to support the Secretary-General in his efforts to generate momentum and commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030, the SDG Advocates have been working to promote the universal sustainable development agenda, to raise awareness of the integrated nature of the SDGs, and to foster the engagement of new stakeholders in the implementation of these Goals.
In December 2016, he was the co-mediator of the ECOWAS mediation team to resolve the post-election political impasse in The Gambia between the defeated incumbent, Yahya Jammeh and declared winner, H.E Adama Barrow
Apart from his love of reading and acquiring knowledge, President Mahama is a champion of youth empowerment across the continent and also has a keen interest in technology and being a farmer himself, he’s particularly interested in finding the most effective ways to improve agricultural productivity and continues to encourage more young people to see farming as a viable business and not a subsistence activity.
He also takes keen interest in the opportunities for simplifying and making tasks easier with the use of Information and Communications Technology, and considers the ICT industry one of the sectors that can play a significant role in economic transformation and job creation.
President John Dramani Mahama is a man of many talents and accomplishments, who committed himself to fulfilling the vision of creating a Better Ghana by focusing on Jobs, Stability and Development.
H.E has been the recipient of several awards across Africa and internationally for his distinguished career and achievements in the development of Ghana and his contributions to the African continent.
President Mahama has been married to Mrs. Lordina Dramani Mahama and they live in Accra with their children.
Internationally-Acclaimed Human Rights Lawyer
Human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa has spent the last 20 years defending journalists and resisting government corruption in her home country of Zimbabwe. She has been physically attacked and faced threats against her life, and yet despite such adversity, she continues to fight for freedom and the ideals of democracy. In spite of beatings by police, she has courageously defended in court those jailed by the Mugabe government—peace activists, journalists, opposition candidates, farmers that had their land confiscated, ordinary citizens that had the courage to speak up.
Beatrice Mtetwa was born into a polygamous family in Swaziland in the rural community but was determined that this was not the life for her. She graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree (LLB) from the University of Botswana and Swaziland in 1981. She worked as a prosecutor in Swaziland and in Zimbabwe from 1981 to 1989. She went into private practice in Harare in February 1989 and soon began specializing in human rights law. In one of her more notable cases, she successfully challenged a section of Zimbabwe's Private Voluntary Organizations Act which allowed a government minister the authority to dissolve or replace the board members of non-governmental organizations. She also challenged the results of 37 districts in the 2000 parliamentary elections. Mtetwa is particularly noted for her defense of arrested journalists, both local and international. In 2003, for example, she won a court order preventing the deportation of Guardian reporter Andrew Meldrum, presenting it to security officials at Harare International Airport only minutes before Meldrum's plane was scheduled to depart. She also won acquittals for detained reporters Toby Harnden and Julian Simmonds from London's Sunday Telegraph, who had been arrested during coverage of the April parliamentary election on charges of working without government accreditation. In April 2008, she secured the release of New York Times reporter Barry Bearak, who had been imprisoned on similar charges. She also defended many local journalists arrested in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election.
Mtetwa is a game changer in Zimbabwean history and an inspiration to young women who can look at her and know that they too can challenge the status quo and deserve equal protection under the law. In 2005, she won the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists. She also won Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2008. In 2009, the European Bar Human Rights Institute awarded her the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize. Mtetwa also won the 2010 International Human Rights award of the American Bar Association. In 2011, she was awarded the Inamori Ethics Prize by Case Western Reserve University in the United States. In 2013, St. Francis Xavier University celebrated Mtetwa's many achievements by presenting her with an honorary degree. In April 2016, Mtetwa was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree by Rhodes University in South Africa in recognition of her achievements in the promotion and protection of human rights in Zimbabwe.
Mtetwa champions a variety of other social causes, including eradicating AIDS and poverty, protecting the rights of women and children, preserving the essential freedoms of peaceful assembly, association and speech, and helping poor farmers wrongfully evicted from their land by the government. Beatrice Mtetwa also sits on various commercial boards, including the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard newspapers, the Mail and Guardian Media Group, and Pioneer Africa Corporation (a diversified transport company operating in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana and Uganda).