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State of the Africa Region: COVID-19 and the Future of Work in Africa

April 13, 2021




  • The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital technologies in African countries, and the latest Africa’s Pulse provides new evidence on how digital is enhancing the productivity of existing jobs and creating new jobs, for people of all skill levels and backgrounds. This is particularly important as the region looks toward economic recovery post-pandemic, and many Sub-Saharan African countries are making tremendous investments to advance digital adoption and build skills. Against the backdrop of a COVID-19 induced recession, African countries are weathering the economic storm better than expected and are poised for recovery, but the strength of this recovery depends on the reforms, policies, and investments that countries make now.  

    Hosted by Georja Calvin-Smith of France 24, join a panel of Africa’s distinguished ministers, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the digital space to discuss the future of work in Africa. They will touch on how governments can support digital transformation, discuss the macroeconomic outlook for the region and how to improve prospects for recovery, and encourage Africa’s young people who are driving digital innovation across the region.

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    Georja Calvin-Smith

    France 24, Moderator

    Georja Calvin-Smith is a Paris based writer, journalism trainer, TV news presenter and producer who has worked in international magazine and current affairs broadcasting for over a decade. She currently produces and fronts the daily ‘Eye on Africa’ bulletin at France 24, an international news network broadcasting in English, French and Arabic. Georja also anchors the weekly ‘Across Africa’ magazine show. After studying law in the UK she became a news reporter and presenter in Manchester and produced stories, features and documentaries for the BBC, ITV and HBO in New York. She's interviewed several heads of state including the presidents of Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Namibia, Mali and Angola. Georja's reported from around the world and is an insightful and friendly host of debates and corporate events. She regularly collaborates with the UN and other international organizations in moderating high level debates and dialogues. In 2019 she chaired a presidential panel at the first Luanda Biennale and pan African Forum for the culture of Peace. She’s led nuanced discussions at the UN’s world press freedom day event in Jakarta and in 2018 delved into Africa’s economy during conversations with policy makers at the World Export Development Forum in Zambia. Georja guided keynote sessions for the COP21 climate conference in Paris, shaping discussions that included former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg the Governor of California, Jerry Brown and Paris's Mayor, Anne Hidalgo. She regularly leads events for the African Development Bank, and has moderated televised debates for the institution in Ahmedabad, India and Busan, South Korea. She’s overseen a panel of ministers and presidents discussing their continent's economic challenges as chair of the OECD's Africa Forum in Paris and featured alongside Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee and ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in Le Monde's 'Women in Africa' conference. Georja is a professor of the Brazilian martial art of capoeira.


    Moussa Faki Mahamat

    Chairperson, African Union Commission (AUC)

    H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat was elected as the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson on 30 January 2017 and assumed office in March 2017. A constitutional lawyer by profession, Chairperson Faki has occupied senior governmental positions in a career that has spanned over 30 years, including tenure as foreign minister and Prime Minister in his native country Chad. At the continental level and during his tenure as Foreign Minister of Chad, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat chaired the United Nations Security Council for the month of December 2015. He also chaired the Peace and Security Council of the AU in September 2013 and steered the Nairobi Extraordinary Summit on the fight against Terrorism. He also served as chairman of the AU Executive Council. Chairperson Faki has a formidable global reputation as a peace broker in Africa in a career that has placed a central focus on peace and security issues in Africa. As Chairperson of the Commission, Chairperson Faki is the Chief Executive Officer, legal representative and Chief Accounting Officer. He is directly responsible to the Executive Council for the discharge of his duties.


    Vera Esperança dos Santos Daves De Sousa

    Finance Minister, Angola

    Vera Esperança dos Santos Daves De Sousa is currently the Finance Minister of the Republic of Angola, after having been State Secretary for Finance and Treasury, Chairwomen of the Capital Market Commission and Director of the Products and Research Office of Atlantic Private Bank. Vera Daves de Sousa had earlier been lecturer of Financial Markets in the Executive MBA promoted by the Católica Business School Alliance. She has co-authored a book on public finance.


    Emma Theofelus

    Deputy Minister of ICT, Namibia

    Honourable Emma Inamutila Theofelus is a young, 24-year-old Namibian born in Windhoek, Namibia and is currently a Member of Parliament and the Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in the Republic of Namibia. Before her appointment, Honourable Emma was always policy adjacent and was a Youth Activist around issues of gender, children’s rights, sustainable development and youth unemployment. She served as the Deputy Speaker of the Youth Parliament of the Republic of Namibia and the Junior Mayor of the City of Windhoek amongst other roles. Emma holds an LLB Honours Degree from the University of Namibia, a diploma in Business Management from Amity University and a diploma in Afrikan Feminism and Gender Studies from the University of South Africa. In her new role, Emma plans to better communicate the activities and programs of the Government of the Republic of Namibia and assist in preparing the Namibian nation for the 4th Industrial Revolution.


    Ibrahima Guimba-Saïdou

    Director General of the National Agency for the information society (Ansi)

    Ibrahima Guimba-Saïdou (@guimbasaidou) is the current Director General of the National Agency for the information society (Ansi). He is also former Minister - Special Advisor of the President of the Republic and a board member of Niger Telecom, the National Operator of Niger. Mr Guimba-Saïdou has over 20 years of professional experience in the telecommunications industries worldwide. His expertise is in strategy, operations planning and management, market sizing, product marketing, business planning, Sales and Market development.He joined the government of Niger in November 2016 as High Commissionner (cabinet level position) in charge of ICT. He is in charge of the e-government strategy and its implementation, as well as enabling the ICT ecosystem.


    Moustapha Cissé

    Head of the Google AI Center, Accra Ghana

    Moustapha Cisse is the Head of the Google AI Center in Accra (Ghana) where he leads the research efforts in foundational machine learning and its applications to solving complex societal challenges. Moustapha is also a Professor of Machine Learning at the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences where he is the Founder and Director of the African Master’s in Machine Intelligence (AMMI). He holds a PhD in Machine Learning from Pierre et Marie Curie University, France. He was previously a Research Scientists at Facebook AI.


    Nwachinemere Emeka

    Founder of Kitovu, Nigeria

    Nwachinemere Emeka is a goal driven, innovation and technology enthusiast passionate about the transformation of Africa into the global food hub. He is a fellow of the Social Innovation Program, a recipient of the Total Startupper Awards for Innovation and the Nigerian Innovation Awards, both in 2016. The multi-award winning serial entrepreneur is a 2015 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program Alumni, and was named part of the Africa Price shortlist of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2018. He also won the 2017 World Bank Ideas for Action competition in 2017, placing first out of 743 teams from 118 countries. How the world would be able to feed 9.7 Billion people by 2050 is one question that Nwachinemere is fixated on finding answers to. And he is doing just that through his startup, Kitovu Technology Company, a United Nations STI 2020 winner. Nwachinemere is a graduate of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he studied Mechanical Engineering. He has also received specialized training on Business and Entrepreneurship from Enterprise Development Center, Pan African University, Lagos. He has a dream that one day, extreme poverty and hunger would be eradicated from Africa and the world. He is a writer and public speaker with interests in governance and advocacy.


    Anika Jane Dorothy

    East Africa Coordinator, Amplify Girls and One Champion, East Africa

    Anika Jane Dorothy is the East Africa Coordinator for AMPLIFY. She recently joined us from the Green Congress of Kenya (a member of the Global Greens) where she served as Executive Director. She garnered vast experiences working with grassroots community environmental organizations which consisted primarily of women and girls. She is an experienced advocate for the rights and tenets of democracy with a passion for all matters women rights and movements, democracy and governance. She is a feminist who believes in investing in the strengthening of young feminist movements and youth led organizations. In addition, she is Pan African, Social scientist adept in national, regional and global Partnerships, Policy & Advocacy work. Her vast knowledge and experience on regional and global instruments in policy and advocacy e.g. Action Coalitions Working Groups on Generation Equality, Youth Design Sprints by UN Women centering the meaningful participation of young women and girls & A Girls Platform for Action by Plan International have enabled her to advocate for critical issues affecting young women & the girl child at regional and global level. Ms. Anika is part of the 30 global youth task force of the Beijing +25 Review by UN Women in an effort to represent and advocate for the youth at the global level an effort to achieve Generation Equality in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. She is also part of AWLN (African Women Leadership Network) technical committee in Kenya. Lastly, she is a ONE East Africa Champion where she lobbies decision makers in effort to create changes needed for gender equality. Ms. Anika holds a Masters in Women, Leadership & Governance in Africa from the University of Nairobi.


    Hafez Ghanem

    World Bank Vice President, Eastern and Southern Africa

    Hafez Ghanem, an Egyptian and French national, is the Regional Vice President for Eastern and Southern Africa. A development expert with over 30 years of experience, Dr. Ghanem leads relations with 26 countries, and oversees over 280 projects totaling more than $49 billion. Prior to his appointment on July 1, 2020, Dr. Ghanem served as the Vice President for Africa. Under his leadership, the World Bank supported inclusive growth and poverty reduction by financing projects that boost human capital, support private sector development, raise agricultural productivity, improve access to infrastructure, build resilience to climate change, and promote regional integration. Intensifying assistance for fragile and conflict-affected states, promoting gender equality, and providing economic opportunities for youth were core to his vision for the Africa Region. Dr. Ghanem also served as Vice President of the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa from 2015 to 2018, overseeing the World Bank’s engagement with 20 countries. Leading up to this, he was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in the Global Economy and Development program leading the Arab economies project, focused on the impact of political transition on Arab economic development. Between 2007 and 2012, he served as the Assistant Director-General at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). He was responsible for the Economic and Social Development Department and the FAO’s analytical work on agricultural economics and food security, trade and markets, gender and equity, and statistics. In this role, he and his counterpart at the OECD coordinated the preparation of the International Organizations’ recommendations to the 2011 G20 meeting on how to respond to the global food crisis.  He also led the reforms of the Committee on World Food Security to make it more inclusive and responsive to country needs. Dr. Ghanem began his career at the World Bank in 1983 as a Young Professional. Over the span of 24 years (1983-2007), he worked on Bank operations and initiatives in over 20 countries in Africa, Europe and Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa, and Southeast Asia. His previous positions at the World Bank include: Country Director for Nigeria where he led a multinational team of more than 100 professionals, managing the Bank’s loan portfolio of some $1.5 billion; Country Director for Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius and Seychelles; and Sector Leader for Public Economics and Trade Policy in the Europe and Central Asia Region. He has many publications in professional journals and was a member of the core team that produced the World Bank’s 1995 World Development Report. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Economics from the American University in Cairo and a PhD in Economics from the University of California, Davis. He is fluent in Arabic, English and French.


    Ousmane Diagana

    World Bank Vice President, Western and Central Africa

    Ousmane Diagana, a Mauritanian national, is the Regional Vice President for Western and Central Africa as of July 1, 2020. In this position, Mr. Diagana leads relations with 22 countries, and oversees a portfolio of projects, technical assistance and financial resources worth more than $38 billion. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Diagana was the Vice President of the World Bank Group Human Resources. In that role, he provided overall strategic leadership on human resource matters to the entire World Bank Group and oversaw the development and implementation of the World Bank Group People Strategy, and Human Resources policies, programs and services. From October 2015 to January 2018, he was the Vice President for Ethics and Business Conduct (EBC) and Chief Ethics Officer of the World Bank Group. Mr. Diagana is recognized as an organizational leader, personal mentor and a professional role model. He brings to this role a deep knowledge of Bank Group operations, a reputation for innovative and strategic thinking, recognized managerial skills, and country office perspective. Previously, he was World Bank Country Director for Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Benin, Guinea, and Togo, based in Abidjan and prior to that he held the position of Country Director for Mali, Niger, Chad, and Guinea, based in Bamako. Between 2006 and 2009, Mr. Diagana was Country Manager in Niger and from 2004 to 2006, he was Program Leader in Morocco. In these capacities, he effectively led diverse, multi-disciplinary teams to deliver innovative strategies and operations —including in fragile and conflict-affected countries. In 2009, Mr. Diagana received the Good Manager Award from the World Bank Group Staff Association in recognition of his leadership skills. Ousmane Diagana joined the World Bank in 1992. He has degrees in economics, finance, and planning, a certificate in education policies and analysis and speaks French, English, Arabic, Soninke, Fulani, and Wolof.


    Sérgio Pimenta

    IFC Vice President, Middle East and Africa

    Sérgio Pimenta is IFC’s Vice President for the Middle East and Africa. In this capacity, he is in charge of all advisory and investment operations in a region with about 650 staff and a committed portfolio of nearly $18 billion, including mobilization. Previously, Mr. Pimenta was the Director and Global Head of Industry—Manufacturing, Agribusiness, and Services at IFC, managing all operations in these sectors worldwide. He led a team of 350 staff working across more than 100 countries to expand the private sector's role in addressing urgent development challenges in areas such as agribusiness, health, education, manufacturing, and commercial services. Mr. Pimenta also served for three years as IFC’s Regional Director responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, based in Hong Kong. Earlier in his career at IFC, he held senior managerial positions in the manufacturing, agribusiness, and services sectors in the Asia Pacific region, the Middle East and North Africa, and Washington, DC. Prior to joining the World Bank Group through its Young Professionals Program in 1996, Mr. Pimenta worked for the Treasury Department of the French Ministry of Finance, as well as for the Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP). A Portuguese and French national, he holds an engineering degree from the École Polytechnique, Paris, and a post-graduate degree from the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, Paris.


    Albert Zeufack

    World Bank Chief Economist, Africa

    Dr. Albert G. Zeufack, a Cameroonian national, is the World Bank’s Chief Economist for Africa. Prior to his appointment in May 2016, he was Practice Manager in the Macroeconomics and Fiscal Management Global Practice and leader of the World Bank-wide Community of Practice for the Management of Natural Resources Rents. His main research interest is in the micro-foundations of macroeconomics. Dr. Zeufack joined the World Bank in 1997 as a Young Professional and started his career as a research economist in the Macroeconomics Division of the Research Department. Since then, he has held several positions in Africa, East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Central Asia regions. Between 2008 and 2012, on leave from the World Bank, he was the Director of Research and Investment Strategy/Chief Economist for Khazanah Nasional Berhad, a Malaysian Sovereign Wealth Fund. Dr. Zeufack received his Ph.D. in economics from CERDI, the University of Clermont-Ferrand (France) where he taught before joining the World Bank. He holds a master’s degree in economic analysis and policy from the University of Yaoundé (Cameroon) and has received Executive Education from Harvard University and Stanford University. Dr. Zeufack is a member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Natural Resource Charter at the University of Oxford, a member of the Advisory Board of the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), a member of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Network, and a member of the Board of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC).


  • Where: Online
  • When: Tuesday, April 13, 2021
  • Time: 8 am ET – 10:00 am ET/12 pm GMT – 2 pm GMT