Keynote speakers announced for AWIEF 2019 conference

The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) has announced the keynote speakers for its prestigious annual conference taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), 29-30 October 2019 for the advancement of women in Africa as innovators and entrepreneurs.

UNECA, World Bank, USAID, CTA, Shell, Nedbank, APO Group to headline AWIEF’s 5th flagship event.

AWIEF, which this year celebrates the 5th anniversary of its benchmarking Conference, Expo and Awards, has more than 60 African and global thought leaders across business and politics to share insight and thought leadership, on the conference agenda.

The conference theme this year is, Enhancing Impact: Digitalisation, Investment and Intra-African Trade. The two-day event aims to promote and accelerate the growth of women-owned and women-led businesses for Africa’s inclusive economic growth; share entrepreneurship trends; connect and network with trailblazers from all over Africa and beyond.

High profile speakers

AWIEF 2019 Keynote speakers are Dr Vera Songwe, United Nations Undersecretary General and Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); Arunma Oteh, Academic Scholar, Oxford University and former Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank; Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Chancellor Nelson Mandela University and former Vice President and Special Envoy on gender to the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The powerful and high-profile global speaker faculty include, H.E. Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang, former Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia and Minister of Women Affairs; Honourable (Prof) Hlengiwe Mkhize, Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disability, South Africa; Virginia Blaser, Consul General of the United States Consulate General Cape Town; John Groarke, Mission Director, USAID Southern Africa; Barbara Makhubedu, Chief Financial Officer, Shell South Africa; Wendy Luhabe, Economic Activist, Social Entrepreneur and founder of the Women Private Equity Fund and co-founder WINDE; Michael Hailu, Director, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), The Netherlands; Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini; Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, founder and Chairman, APO Group, UK; and Alderman Dan Plato, Executive Mayor, City of Cape Town, South Africa.

Sponsors include: Shell, Nedbank, CTA, City of Cape Town, AGRA, OCP Group, TIA, SEDA, USAID, and the APO Group.

Conference themes

Keynotes, plenaries and panel discussion topics centre around the following:

  • Intra-African Trade: Ensuring Value for Women in the New AfCFTA Framework.
  • Digitalisation:Breaking Barriers to Drive Agribusinesses for Women in Africa (brought to you in partnership with CTA-EU).
  • High-Level Policy Panel: Creating an Enabling Environment for Leveraging the Digital Economy and Enhancing Intra-African Trade.
  • Leveraging the Potential of the Digital Economy and Making the Digital Revolution Work for Women: Challenges and Opportunities (brought to you in partnership with Technology and Innovation Agency (TIA).
  • Closing the Gender Financing Gap: Solutions Catalysing Financial Inclusion in the Digital Era.

AWIEF is a platform that sees global thought leaders, industry experts, policymakers, academics, development organisations and investors gather to dialogue, connect, network, share, collaborate and transact in a combined effort to boost Africa’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Investment in women-owned businesses

“The digital economy is driving business and is enhancing the impact of our work. Investment in women-owned businesses is needed across the continent of Africa,” said Irene Ochem, Founder and CEO of AWIEF. “It is important for Africa to trade amongst itself, to collaborate and cooperate. What we need to look at is the roles that women have in this process.”

The 2019 AWIEF Awards and Gala Dinner will take place on Wednesday, 30 October 2019, at the CTICC, Cape Town. This year the AWIEF Awards will also feature the APO Group African Women in Media Award and the TIA Women in Innovation Award.

AWIEF, headquartered in both Nigeria and South Africa, runs several programmes for women across the continent, such as the flagship AWIEF Growth Accelerator Programme for getting businesses “investment ready”; #VALUE4HER, a continental programme that seeks to strengthen women-led agribusiness enterprises in Africa; and the FemBioBiz Accelerator Programme which builds and supports the growth of women-owned and led businesses in the health and agricultural biotech field and other technologies, with impact on health, nutrition and food security.


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