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Economic Strategies: What Now?


Acha Leke

Senior Partner, Johannesburg
Chairman, McKinsey Africa

Dr. Acha Leke is a Senior Partner in McKinsey’s Johannesburg office and Chairman of McKinsey’s Africa practice.  He started his career at McKinsey as a summer associate in South Africa. He rejoined the firm in Atlanta in 1999 and transferred back to Johannesburg in 2002 to help expand the firm’s activities across Sub-Saharan Africa. Acha relocated to Lagos in 2010 to open the newly established office in Nigeria and returned to South Africa in 2014. He leads the firm’s Private Equity & Principal Investors Practice in Africa and is a member of the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) Council. Until December 2018, he led the firm’s Public Sector and Social Sector Practices in Africa and was also in charge of global recruiting for McKinsey worldwide.

Acha serves governments, multinational organizations, and private-sector institutions across Africa on issues of economic development, tax administration, growth strategies, holistic transformations, and investment decisions. He has worked across more than 20 African countries to date.

Prior to McKinsey, Acha worked as a part-time consultant on novel techniques to linearize high power amplifiers for wireless applications. He graduated undergrad from Georgia Institute of Technology as the first black valedictorian in the school’s history.

Acha is a cofounder and member of the Global Advisory Council of the African Leadership Academy, a coeducational boarding school that aims to develop the next generation of African leaders. He is also a cofounder of the African Leadership Network, an invitation-only network of young African leaders who aspire to bring prosperity to the continent. Acha is an alumnus (2008) of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leaders program and has received numerous recognitions, including Africa’s Young Investment Professional of the year (Africa Investor, 2008), Top 40 Men under 40 in South Africa (DESTINY MAN, 2010), Top 10 Youngest Power Men in Africa (Forbes, 2011), 50 Most Influential Africans (Africa Report, 2012), Top 20 Next Generation Francophone Africans (Forbes, 2013), Top 40 under 40 in Nigeria (Business Day, 2013), Top 20 Rising Stars in Africa (Euromoney, 2014), and 100 Most Influential Africans (New African, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019).

Acha served on the WEF’s Global Future Council on Economic Growth and Social Inclusion for two years, after having served for eight years on the Global Agenda Council for Africa. He is a member of ONE’s Africa policy advisory board, the Lagos Business School advisory board, and President Kagame’s African Union (AU) reform steering committee. Acha coauthored McKinsey’s highly acclaimed series of Lions on the Move reports and the recent book, Africa’s Business Revolution: How to Succeed in the World’s Next Big Growth Market. He is regularly featured in various media (such as CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, Economist, Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal).

Acha is from Cameroon and is fluent in both English and French.

Dr. John N. Nkengasong, MSc, PhD

Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Prior to his current position, he served as the acting deputy principal director (acting) of the Center for Global Health, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC), and Chief of the International Laboratory Branch, Division of Global HIV and TB., U.S CDC. 

He received a Masters in Tropical Biomedical Science at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium and a Doctorate in Medical Sciences (Virology) from the University of Brussels, Belgium.

He has received numerous awards for his work including Sheppard Award, the William Watson Medal of Excellence, the highest recognition awarded by CDC. He is also a recipient of the Knight of Honour Medal by the Government of Cote d’Ivoire, was knighted in 2017 as the Officer of Loin by the President of Senegal, H.E. Macky Sall, and Knighted in November 2018 by the government of Cameroon for his significant contributions to public health.

He is an adjunct professor at the Emory School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA. 

He serves on several international advisory boards including the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Initiative – CEPI, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) among others.

He has authored over 250 peer-review articles in international journals and published several book chapters.

Vera Songwe

UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa

Vera Songwe is the UN Under-Secretary-General and 9th Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), becoming the first woman to lead the institution in its 60-year history.

As Executive Secretary, Songwe’s reforms, focusing on “ideas for a prosperous Africa”, have brought to the fore critical issues of macroeconomic stability, development finance, private
sector growth, poverty and inequality, the digital transformation, trade and competitiveness.

Recently listed as one of Africa’s 50 most powerful women by Forbes, named as one of the ‘100 Most Influential Africans’ by Jeune Afrique in 2019, ‘100 Most Influential Africans’ by New African Magazine in 2017 and one of the ’25 African to watch’ by the FT in 2015, Songwe is acknowledged for her long-standing track record of providing policy advice and her wealth of experience in delivering development results for Africa.

She has written extensively on
development and economic issues including on debt, infrastructure development, fiscal and governance issues. She is well published and contributes to the development debate across a broad spectrum of platforms including in the Financial Times.

Prior to ECA, she held a number of senior leadership roles with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and World Bank.