Bios - EABF highlight event at the European Development Days

Neven Mimica, European Commissioner, International Cooperation and Development

Neven Mimica has been European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development since 2014. In this role he is focused on ensuring that the European Union delivers on the commitments it has made to reducing poverty as detailed under the Millennium Development Goals. Other responsibilities include establishing the European Commission and European Union positions for negotiations on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals agenda after 2015, and cooperating with national governments to make European Union development aid more effective. He is also working to prepare for a renewed partnership with the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific.

Prior to 2014, Mr Mimica held numerous other diplomatic roles. Among them: European Commissioner for Consumer Policy; Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister for Internal, Foreign and European Policy; Deputy Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, Chair of the European Integration Committee of the Croatian Parliament and Minister for European Integration.

Born in Croatia, Mr Mimica has a master’s degree in economics from the University of Zagreb, and is married with two children.

H.E Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission

H.E. Kwesi Quartey, who was recently elected Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission is a trained lawyer.

He has over 35 years of experience as a career diplomat and has served in various capacities in Ghana’s Embassies and High Commissions in Cotonou, Cairo, Brussels, Havana, and London. He was Ghana’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, and Deputy High Commissioner of Ghana to the United Kingdom before being appointed as Ghana’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union in Addis Ababa. For many years he was also Director of the Legal and Consular Department of the Ghanaian Foreign Ministry.

He was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in 2012, and later Secretary to President, H.E. Mr. John Mahama of Ghana in 2015. His hobbies include Field Hockey, Tennis, Chess and Table Tennis.

He is married to Mrs Audrey Quartey with whom he has 4  daughters, and is an unrepentant feminist.

Pierre Guislain, Vice-President, Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialisation AfDB Group

Pierre Guislain, a Belgian national, joined the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group in December 2016. As vice-president of the AfDB, his areas of responsibility include the financial sector, trade, urban development and information and communication technologies.

Previously, Mr Guislain held the position of senior director in charge of transport and information & communication technologies at the World Bank. He also served as director of the World Bank’s investment climate department, a joint grouping of the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. He also held the position of co-director at the IFC for fragile and conflict affected countries.

Mr Guislain is an author and editor of publications on private sector development, foreign direct investment, ICT, infrastructure reform and privatisation. He holds a master's degree in economics and public policy from Princeton University (USA), as well as a graduate degree in law from the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium).

Vimal Shah, CEO of Bidco Oil Refi neries Limited and BIDCO Group

Mr. Vimal Shah is the CEO of Bidco Oil Refineries Limited and BIDCO Group, a business conglomerate involved in the manufacture of edible oil, detergents, soaps, margarine and baking powder. He is also a member of the 3GF (Global Green Growth Fund) Advisory Board and the Tony Elumelu Foundation Advisory Board.

Until April 2015, he was the Chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, the private sector body in Kenya, and is a former Chairman of the East African Business Council and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers. In 2012, Mr. Vimal Shah was the recipient of the East African Entrepreneur of the Year award, granted by All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) in partnership with CNBC Africa and Forbes Africa. He was named Oshwal

Entrepreneur of the Year and awarded the ‘First Class: Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear (CBS)’ in December 2011-the highest national honour for a private citizen in Kenya. Under his leadership Bidco has received over 30 corporate awards in 15 years across various domains: energy management, business leadership and manufacturing.

Mr. Vimal Shah holds an honorary PhD awarded by the KCA University for his contribution to the growth of entrepreneurship in Kenya, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Finance.


Pierre Gattaz, President MEDEF - French Business Confederation

French businessman Pierre Gattaz was elected president of MEDEF, the Movement of the Enterprises of France in July 2013. At the same time, he became the first statutory vice-president of the Comité France Chine, an organisation which aims to promote knowledge and understanding between French and Chinese companies and China’s government. He has been chairman of electronics manufacturer Radiall since 1994, and is an entrepreneur committed to defending and promoting early stage businesses.

As head of MEDEF, Mr Gattaz’s top priority is creating employment by giving companies the means and conditions to be competitive in a safe environment – the only way to restore growth needed for economic recovery.

Previous roles have included managing directorships at Fontaine Électronique, Convergie and Radiall, and he has held the title of president at several organisations - namely the Professional Association for Electronic Components and Systems, the Federation of Electrical, Electronic and Communication Industries and the Industrial Federations Group.

He graduated in engineering from Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications de Bretagne and holds a certificate in administrative management from George Washington University.

Mr Gattaz is the author of Le printemps des Magiciens (Magicians’ Spring, 2009), Les 7 piliers de la Croissance (The 7 Pillars of Growth 2013), and Français, bougeons nous! (Let’s Move, France! 2014), all published by Nouveau Monde. In addition, in April 2016, his reflective works ‘Faire gagner la France à horizon 2020’ (Make France win at Horizon 2020) and ‘La France de tous les possibles’ (France of all the possibilities) appeared in an edition of ‘Débats publics’. A married father of four, Mr Gattaz is both a Knight of the Legion of Honour and an Officer of the National Order of Merit.

Rebecca Stromeyer, Founder of eLearning Africa

Rebecca Stromeyer is director of ICWE, an international events and communications company. She is also co-founder and co-owner of ICEF, the global leader in international student recruitment and travel for education workshops. Ms Stromeyer grew up in an international environment and is multilingual. Born in Kuwait, she spent her formative years in different countries in the Middle East, going on to study Slavonic Studies, Comparative Literature, Business Administration and Media Studies in Berlin, Moscow and the UK. Against this backdrop, she launched her successful exhibition series on languages and multiculturalism, which have been organised in European cities including Berlin, Budapest, London, Warsaw, Moscow and Prague since 1988.

As an organiser of global education events in all parts of the world, she co-launched the Online Educa conference series in Berlin in 1995. This annual event is now regarded as an important networking in the international e-learning industry calendar. In 2000, the event was launched in Madrid, to include the Spanish-speaking e-learning community.

Ms Stromeyer’s project, eLearning Africa, responds to the need for ICT-supported learning in Africa. The annual international conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training was first held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2006, and later held in cities including Nairobi, Accra, Dakar, Lusaka and Windhoek. It is attended by over 1,700 delegates from all sectors, and ministers from many African nations.

Ms Stromeyer is also the founding director of E-Cubed Communications, an agency for international communications, marketing and public affairs. She is an advisory member to law firm ELIG and vice-chair of the board of the Global Business School Network. In addition, she is chairperson of East Trust, a non-profit organisation that aims to make a lasting positive impact on education in Africa and a board member of the Drucker Society.


Chris Bishop, Editor Forbes Africa Magazine

Chris Bishop is the founding editor of Forbes Africa, which was launched in October 2011. Throughout his 32 years in the journalism profession, he has tackled print, radio and TV and spent 20 years reporting on African stories.

In 2011, Bishop won South Africa’s ‘Sanlam Award for Excellence in Financial Journalism’ and in 1988 won the ‘Sir David Beattie Award’ for exposing a cover-up of an assassination attempt on the Queen. Bishop has reported for the BBC in London, CNBC Africa, SKY News, TVNZ and the SABC.

In 2013, Chris Bishop was awarded the prestigious “Special Editor of the Year Award” at the annual PICA Awards event.

Hussein Alfa ‘Seyni’ Nafo, Chair of the African Group of Negotiators, UNFCCC

Hussein Alfa ‘Seyni’ Nafo, is special advisor to the president of Mali, and the country’s ambassador for climate change. Mr Nafo holds numerous environmental roles aimed at strengthening Africa’s institutions, and their responses to climate change, within a global context. Some of his roles include: chairman of the African Group of Negotiators, which represents 54 countries at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and he was recently elected as vice-president of the Bureau of the Conference of the Parties (COP). He is also co-chair, and one of two African representatives, on the convention’s standing committee on finance.

Mr Nafo’s commitment to addressing climate change is reflected in his involvement in numerous high-level projects. One important contribution is his work on tabling the African Group proposal to the UNFCCC that initiated the establishment of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI). He is currently co-leader of the initiative, as well as head of the support unit to Guinea’s president, and African Union coordinator for renewable energies. In 2009, Mr Nafo co-founded Interface Africa, a firm focused on project development and financial engineering.


Roberto Ridolfi, Director, European Commission for Sustainable Growth and Development

Roberto Ridolfi is director for sustainable growth and development at DG Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid. As ambassador and head of a delegation to the European Union, Mr Ridolfi first served in Suva, Fiji, from 2005 to 2007, where he oversaw all EU relations with 15 countries and territories, as well as with the Pacific Forum.

In 2011, he was appointed in Uganda by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, where he served until September 2013. In the interim period, in a role as head of unit of Europe Aid F3, he managed programmes dealing with the environment, food security, migration and asylum, as well as the €1 billion food facility in 50 countries. Mr Ridolfi joined the commission in 1994, taking responsibility for the European delegation to Malawi as infrastructure and development advisor.

Saadia Madsbjerg, Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation

Saadia Madsbjerg joined the Rockefeller Foundation in 2013, and now leads its work on innovation. Her responsibilities include shaping and scaling innovative finance solutions and raising private sector investment capital for the social sector.

Before joining the foundation, Ms Madsbjerg was senior vice-president for strategic planning at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. There she led a portfolio of transformative projects focused on creating more equitable and resilient growth for the city. Other roles include heading up strategy and analytics at Cisco’s TelePresence Technology Group, and associate principal at McKinsey & Company. Ms Madsbjerg has a Master of Science in Applied Economics and Finance from Copenhagen Business School, and George Washington University, and a Bachelor of Science in International Business from Copenhagen Business School and Boston College.

Chris Clubb, Managing Director, Convergence

Chris Clubb has 20-plus years’ experience in financing development projects in over 50 emerging and frontier markets. Prior to joining Convergence, he led the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) activities in early transition countries, increasing its annual investments five-fold to become their largest investor. In partnership with over 20 donors, he also innovated and implemented many of EBRD’s blended finance programmes – including the leading local currency programme for SME finance and development.

Prior to joining EBRD, Mr Clubb held numerous financing roles. At the European Investment Bank, he provided long-term financing to strategic European infrastructure projects and at Export Development Canada (EDC), cross-border financing to international buyers. His career began in corporate banking at Toronto Dominion Bank, and he has held senior strategic risk management positions at EBRD and EDC.

Ana Hajduka, Founder & CEO, Africa GreenCo

Ana Hajduka is an infrastructure and energy professional with over 12 years’ experience working on projects in emerging markets. Her experience includes work project finance, public-private partnerships and project development.

Previously, Ms Hajduka practiced law for over 10 years, having qualified in England and Wales and the State of New York. She completely her training with Allen & Overy LLP and subsequently worked for Fulbright & Jaworski LLP and Trinity International LLP, advising on a diverse range of projects within the energy sector, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. In March 2015, she was appointed by the UN Economic Commission for Europe as a project team leader responsible for 30 specialists in charge of developing standards in international renewable energy for public private partnerships.

Riccardo Ridolfi, Co-founder and Director, Absolute Energy Capital

Riccardo Ridolfi, the organiser of this session, is an Italian entrepreneur with a passion for renewable energy and Africa, where he lived for over 8 years of his life. He holds a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Economics from the Australian National University, as well as an LL.M from University College London. Riccardo is a qualified lawyer in Australia, England & Wales and Italy. After four years of practicing as an international lawyer, specialising in structured finance and foreign investment protection, Riccardo changed his focus to access to energy and rural development. In 2014, he joined forces with Alberto Pisanti and, together, they co-founded what today has become Absolute Energy’s rural utility. Riccardo has also advised numerous companies and investors relating to business in Africa, building strong relationships on the continent. He also nurtures a strong interest in the tech startup world, particularly with regards to accelerating access to services.  Sustainability has always been a key driver for Riccardo, evidenced by Absolute Energy’s business model, as well as Riccardo’s pro bono activity, starting from the creation of SustainaWay, a small NGO dedicated to the protection of wildlife in collaboration with the Elephant Action League.

Christine Leurquin, Vice-President, Institutional Relations and Communications, SES S.A.

Christine Leurquin has 30 years’ experience in European satellite communications. At SES S.A., her main role is to position the company at a high level within the European Union (EU) and other institutions such as the International Telecommunications Union, European Space Agency and African Union, among others. She considers policies and regulations, provides political support, and helps to establish research and development and institutional projects. Other responsibilities include tracking political issues and debates of interest to her company and playing a role in global satellite navigation system projects like Galileo. Ms Leurquin has held various roles at SES since 1999. Prior to this she was president and CEO of Sait Videohouse SA (1992-98) and head of the Space Data Division at Sait Systems SA (1989-92). She is actively involved numerous associations, including the European Satellite Operators Association, which she founded, the 5G Infrastructure Association and the 5G PPP Partnership Board Association. Ms Leurquin holds an MBA from the University of St Louis, Brussels and a Masters in Germanic languages from ULB (Université libre de Bruxelles). In addition she completed management courses at the University of Chicago and has attended SES Top Management Leadership and Negotiation Courses.


 Steve Collar CEO, SES Networks

Steve Collar, a satellite industry veteran, joined O3b Networks as chief executive officer in 2011. He has guided the company through the successful build and launch of its state-of-the-art satellite constellation and has led the business into full commercial operations. O3b provides end-to-end network solutions to some of the world’s largest telecommunications, maritime and energy companies as well as to governments.

In February 2017, Mr Collar joined the SES Executive Committee and is currently chief executive officer for SES Networks. Prior to this, Mr Collar held numerous management positions in commercial, business development and technology at SES, New Skies Satellites and Matra Marconi Space (now Airbus).

Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou, High Commissioner, High Commission for Information Technology and New Technologies of Information and Communication, Niger





Michel Reveyrand-de Menthon, Advisor to Chairman and CEO of international relations, Orange





Travis Heneveld, Director UN and Multinational Accounts, Motorola





Marc Elvinger, Chair of Friendship Luxembourg and Co-Chair of Friendship International





Ossi Heinanen, CEO Plan International, Finland






Laurence Janssens, Senior Director, Country Manager Indian Ocean, Microsoft

Laurence Janssens is Microsoft’s country manager for the Indian Ocean Islands. She is based in Mauritius and is part of the Microsoft African (WECA) leadership team. Ms Janssens joined Microsoft at the beginning of 2015 as public sector lead for Belgium, which includes all Belgian governmental and international institutions. She also served as a director on the boards of the ‘Microsoft Innovation Centres’, which are private public partnerships with the Brussels and Walloon regions, and other private partners.

Prior to joining Microsoft, she held a similar position with the Belgian telecom operator Proximus. She began her career as a consultant with Bain & Company and from there moved into various sales and business development roles within the telco & ICT sectors, both in Belgium and in Western Europe. She has an MBA from the Chicago Booth School of Business, and a commercial engineer masters from the University of Leuven, Belgium. Ms Janssens is a Belgian and Swiss citizen.


Andreas Spiess, Co-Founder & CEO, SOLARKIOSK

Andreas Spiess is the co-founder of Berlin headquartered SOLARKIOSK AG, which sells solar products from solar-powered business hubs.

Mr Spiess studied law at the Freie Universität in Berlin and specialised in IP and corporate law, practising in Düsseldorf and New York before starting his own law firm Spieß Schumacher Schmieg, & Partner in 1999. Following extensive legal work in the field of renewable energy technology and developing markets, he decided to invest.

With Ethiopian partners, his first venture was to found Solar Development plc in Addis Ababa, which is now one of Ethiopia’s biggest solar system integrators. He went on to co-found Fosera Ethiopia plc in 2010, a solar lighting product assembly line based in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

SOLARKIOSK AG was born in 2011 from a partnership with GRAFT architects, which contributed the award winning technology-design, and other angel investors.

With satellite communications firm SES, SOLARKIOSK AG have partnered to establish a ‘Connected Solar School’ for an educational centre run by UNICEF and Relief International, within Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp.

Jan-Willem Scheijgrond, Vice President Global Government and Public Affairs, Royal Philips

Jan-Willem Scheijgrond heads up the global network within Royal Philips that is responsible for relations with governments and related stakeholders. Its aim is to address societal challenges, in particular in the area of large-scale healthcare transformations. Mr Scheijgrond is also responsible for partnerships with the United Nations, Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), and the World Economic Forum to strengthen health systems that achieve universal health coverage. He is a board member of the Partnership for Maternal and Newborn Child Health and member of the Global Finance Facility Investors Group. He joined Philips in 2009 as senior director within the corporate sustainability office, and worked on risk and reputation management.

Mr Scheijgrond began his career at the United Nations Environment Programme, where he developed best practice guides for cleaner production in emerging markets. Subsequently, he held numerous sustainability and government related positions at the BLC Leather Confederation, Epson, and Hewlett-Packard.

He holds a master’s degree in environmental technology from Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and is married with two children.


Walter Mayer, Founder and CEO of PROGIS Corporation

Walter H. Mayer is founder and CEO of PROGIS Software AG. He has been involved in PC hardware and software since 1978 and has since become the Apple and Acer distributor for the Austrian market. From 1994 Mr Mayer was one of the few European GIS (Geographic Information Systems) suppliers for the development of PC-based GIS-products (WinGIS...) that are successfully sold world-wide via a distributor network. He also initiated the foundation of an Advanced Technical College for Geoinformatics near the PROGIS location in Villach, Austria. As a result of his long lasting experience as consultant for ecology, agriculture and forestry - Mr MAYER studied agro-science and forestry (MSc) and still runs his own Argo-forestry enterprises as well as heading a consulting office in this field - he introduced, via the WinGIS-AGROffice, a complete new model of an integrated and GIS based agro/forestry software. The software handles private farmers/forest enterprises as well as governments EDP needs, including traceability, precise farming, ecology etc.

Alexander De Croo, Deputy prime minister and minister of Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal Services, Belgium




Karim Lotfi Senhadji, CEO, OCP Africa

Karim Lotfi Senhadji is the CEO of OCP Africa, a subsidiary of OCP Group, a producer and exporter of phosphates and other fertilisers. OCP Africa has 10 offices and employs over 150 people. Prior to stepping into the role of chief executive, Mr Lotfi Senhadji spent over seven years at OCP in different leadership positions, including as vice-president of shipping, and director of the group management control department. Previously, he held various management positions at both Moroccan and multinational companies, including Holcim Group, Altadis Maroc and Meditelecom.

Mr Lotfi Senhadji has degrees from MIT in Boston and HEC Paris and holds an executive MBA from ESSEC & Mannheim Business schools. He is also a graduate of the Marrakech’s Royal Air Forces School, where he received a diploma in aeronautic engineering and trained as a fighter pilot. Mr Lotfi Senhadji is a married father of two.


Kanayo F. Nwanze

From 2009-17, Dr Kanayo Nwanze was the fifth president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an organisation that puts agriculture, and especially smallholder development and the rural poor, at the heart of the international development agenda. He has also served as the director-general of the Africa Rice Centre’s Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) where he was instrumental in introducing high-yield, drought- and pest-resistant Nerica rice varieties, developed specifically for Africa.

Dr Nwanze holds a BSc in agricultural science from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and a doctorate in agricultural entomology from Kansas State University. He has published extensively and has received honorary degrees from McGill University, Canada, and the University of Warwick, UK. He is a member of the Global Agenda Council on Food security of the World Economic Forum, and in 2016 received the inaugural Africa Food Prize.

Michael Hailu, Director, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation


Originally from Ethiopia, Michael Hailu is the director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) based in the Netherlands. CTA is a joint institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the European Union working under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. As CTA director he has identified three priorities for the centre’s work: enhancing inclusive value chains; strengthening capacities of agricultural research institutions; and building networks in knowledge management and ICT.

Mr Hailu has over 25 years of professional experience in agricultural research and development in both Africa and Asia. Prior to joining CTA in 2010, he held senior leadership positions at the World Agroforestry Centre in Kenya and at the Centre for International Forestry Research in Indonesia. He has degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and Addis Ababa University and studied strategic leadership at the Stanford University School of Business.


Maira Dzelzkalēja, VP Latvian Farmers Parliament

Maira Dzelzkalēja is an expert in agriculture with over 20 years’ experience. She is vice-president of the ‘Latvian Farmers Parliament’ union, where she is responsible for agriculture and rural development strategy, as well as international relations. She has been vice-president of the Committee of Agricultural Organisations (Copa) since 2013, and chaired the Copa-Cogeca working group on agriculture and rural development.

Since the 1990s she has been involved in the development of a successful family farm, expanding it from an original 14 hectares to the 500 hectares it covers today. Her impressive track record includes promoting sustainable agriculture in the Baltic Sea region, and an EU-Croatia ‘twinning project’ focused on capacity building for the agriculture ministry. A specialist in subjects including sustainable farming and rural development, plant protection and social dialogue, she has spoken at a previous European Commission conference on new technologies in agriculture and research. She studied agronomy and economics at the Latvia University of Agriculture.

Josephine Okot, Founder & MD Victoria Seeds Ltd

Josephine Okot has steered Victoria Seeds from a struggling start up to Uganda’s leading seed house, which was ranked #2 in the 2016 Access to Seed Index. The company that she founded was established in 2004 to disseminate quality seed to smallholder farmers, with the aim of improving crop yields and nutrition, and is the proud winner of the Uganda Responsible Investment Award, Best Seed.

Ms Okot has received numerous accolades. In 2007, she won the YARA Prize in recognition of her work to reverse Africa’s declining agricultural productivity. Two years later she was an honouree of the 2009 Oslo Business for Peace Award for promoting socially responsible and ethical business practice. In 2011, she was named African Woman of the Year, for her work on promoting and mentoring women in business, at the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship, and in 2014 was named Uganda Business Woman of the Year.

She currently serves on the board of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan and holds a Masters in International Business from Washington International University.

Dr Ndubuisi Ekekwe, Founder & Chairman, First Atlantic Semiconductors & Microelectronics Ltd (Fasmicro)

An electrical and computer engineering whizz, Dr Ndubuisi Ekekwe’s company, Fasmicro, produces the Zenvus, a smart device which tells farmers what, how and when to farm. Previously, he worked for Analog Devices Corp as a lead engineer, and worked in the United States National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centre. He is also a TED Fellow, ‘IBM Global Entrepreneur’ and World Economic Forum ‘Young Global Leader’. An inventor and author, Dr Ekekwe blogs at Harvard Business Review, and has previously taught engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and Babcock University. He holds a PhD in electrical and computer engineering from Johns Hopkins University, an MBA from the University of Calabar, Nigeria, and a BEng from the Nigerian Federal University of Technology Owerri.