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Inequality in Southern Africa - An assessment of the Southern African Customs Union

March 9, 2022



The World Bank will release a new report: Inequality in Southern Africa – An assessment of the Southern African Customs Union during a webinar on March 9, 2022. This report provides a comprehensive diagnosis of the sources of inequality in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), comprising Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa, and recommends policies and measures to accelerate the reduction of inequality in the region. Even though most of the information used in the report predates the COVID-19 crisis, the diagnostic of the structural and historical issues underpinning the high levels of inequality in SACU remains relevant, if not more so, considering the implications of the pandemic.

This webinar is an opportunity to hear the finding of the report to be presented by the World Bank Senior Economists and co-authors of the report: Facundo Cuevas and Precious Zikhali. You will also have the opportunity to be part of a discussion on the challenges of the region with an eminent panel.

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    Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly

    Country Director for South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini

    Since joining the World Bank in 1994, Marie-Nelly has held a variety of positions focused on public enterprise restructuring, support to private sector development, regional integration, and management of the oil sector. Marie-Nelly has held a number of leadership positions, including Country Director in the Maghreb and Malta (2015-2019), Country Director for Nigeria (2011-2015), and Country Director for the two Congo’s (Brazzaville and DRC) from 2008 to 2011. Marie-Nelly was also Director of the World Bank Group Program for the Chad Petroleum and the Chad-Cameroon pipeline project (2004-2007) and Director of the regional integration program in Africa from 2000 to 2004. Marie-Nelly is a Certified Public Accountant, a graduate of the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Nantes (France) and Bowling Green University (Ohio, USA). She has also completed several management programs at Harvard University in the US, worked for many international firms, and was an advisor to several governments before joining the World Bank.


    Dr Neeraj Mistry

    Professor at Georgetown University in the Department of Global Health

    Dr Neeraj Mistry is Deputy Director at Future Africa, responsible for research operations. Dr Mistry is a global and public health physician and development executive, with more than 20 years of experience in non-profits, for-profits, academia, and multilateral organisations. His leadership experience includes delivering innovative C-Suite level initiatives to promote health, financing, and development in close partnership with foundations, foreign ministries, and Fortune 500 companies.


    Vera Songwe

    Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

    Ms Songwe has a track record of providing policy advice on development and a wealth of experience in delivering development results for Africa, as well as a demonstrated strong and clear strategic vision for the continent. Prior to coming to the ECA, she was Regional Director of the International Finance Corporation, covering West and Central Africa. She continues to serve as a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative. She is also a member of the African Union institutional reform team, under the direction of the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, and a board member of the African Leadership Network and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. She was also Advisor to the Managing Director of the World Bank for Africa, Europe, and Central and South Asia and a lead Country Sector Coordinator for the organisation.


    Prof Francisco H. G. Ferreira

    Amartya Sen Professor of Inequality Studies and Director of the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE)

    Prof Ferreira, also known as “Chico,” is an economist working on the measurement, causes and consequences of inequality and poverty, with an emphasis on developing countries in general and Latin America. His research has been awarded prizes including the Richard Stone Prize in Applied Econometrics and the Kendrick Prize from the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth. He is also a Research Fellow at IZA (Bonn) and an Affiliated Scholar with the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality at the City University of New York. He serves as Vice-President of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association. Prior to returning to the LSE, he had a long career at the World Bank, mostly in the Research Department. Prof Ferreira was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, and holds a PHD in Economics from the LSE.


    Keith E. Hansen

    World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda

    Mr Hansen, who is based in Nairobi, works closely with the four countries to provide innovative products and services that respond to their diverse development challenges and contribute to achieving sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction, with a specific emphasis on COVID-19 recovery. He has a strong track record that spans 30 years of serving clients in different capacities around the globe, including in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Prior to this assignment, he was the Vice President for Global Practice Solutions, Vice President and Director for Human Development, Sector Manager for Health, Nutrition and Population; and a Senior Advisor in the Office of the World Bank Chief Executive Officer. His areas of expertise include orchestrating multispectral efforts to pursue sustainable development goals. Mr. Hansen, an American national, holds a Law Degree from Stanford University, a Master of Public Affairs from Princeton University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Yale University.


    Prof Murray Leibbrandt

    Director of the Africa Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research at the University of Cape Town

    Prof Leibbrandt is the National Research Foundation Chair in Poverty and Inequality Research, Director of the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit at the University of Cape Town, and the Director of the Africa Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research. His research focuses on South Africa’s poverty, inequality and labour market dynamics. He has served on South African government commissions on the labour market and social policy. He is on the Executive Committee of the International Economics Association.


    Prof Yoseph Getachew

    Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Pretoria (UP) and an Associate Editor of Economic Modelling

    Prof Getachew is a C2- rated Established Researcher and a member of the National Research Foundation Rating Special Committee. He holds a PhD from Maastricht University. Before joining UP, he was a Research Fellow at Durham University Business School. His research interest lies in economic growth, incomplete market, social mobility and inequality. His papers have been published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, World Development, and Macroeconomic Dynamics, among others.


    Dr Pierella Paci

    Practice Manager of the Poverty and Equity Group of the World Bank covering Eastern and Southern Africa

    Dr Paci is the Practice Manager of the Poverty and Equity Group of the World Bank covering Eastern and Southern Africa. Before joining the World Bank in 2001, Dr Paci had an established career as an academic in the UK and had published extensively in the areas of poverty and inequality, labor economics and gender. She holds a Laurea in Economics from the Universita’ la Sapienza in Rome, a Graduate Diploma in Public Economics from the University of York (UK), and a PhD in Economics from the Victoria University of Manchester (UK).


    Dr Facundo Cuevas

    Senior Poverty Economist for the Southern Africa Programme of the World Bank

    Dr Cuevas has worked with governments on poverty reduction, labour and social inclusion issues across a wide range of low- and middle-income contexts. Before joining the Africa team, he was based in Ankara, Turkey, leading a programme of advisory, analytical and operational activities to improve equity and inclusion. He holds a PhD and Masters degree in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and a B.A. in Economics from the National University of Cuyo, Argentina.


    Precious Zikhali

    Senior Economist with the Poverty & Equity Global Practice of the World Bank, based in Nairobi, Kenya

    Ms Zikhali is a Senior Economist with the Poverty & Equity Global Practice of the World Bank, based in Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to joining the Bank, Precious worked in both the public sector and international development space, having worked as a Director at the National Treasury of South Africa’s Economic Policy Division, a researcher at the Centre for World Food Studies in Amsterdam as well as a researcher at the International Water Management Institute in Pretoria. She has also worked as a lecturer and researcher in the Department of Economics, University of Zimbabwe. Precious holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.


    Nozipho Tshabalala

    CEO: The Conversation Strategists Moderating Global Conversations for a better world

    Mrs Tshabalala is the CEO of The Conversation Strategists – a firm dedicated to facilitating consequential conversations on global stages. She describes it as “helping smart people, have simple conversations that make the world a better place.” Her clients are international organisations (UN, World Bank Group, AU, ILO etc), governments, and multinationals in Africa. Nozipho is also a Human Capital Advocate for the World Bank and Global Citizen in Southern Africa. She is the chairperson designate of the LRMG Group and has served in government (The Presidency, RSA), civil society (Umlambo Foundation), and corporate (Tata Africa, CNBC Africa).


  • Where: Online
  • When: Wednesday, March 9, 2022
  • Time: 14:00 SAST / 7am EST