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This Isn’t the West: How Africa’s Informal Sector Reacts to COVID-19


His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

President of Ghana

HE Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was sworn into office on 7th January, 2017, as the 5th President of Ghana’s 4th Republic.

He has been a prominent champion of human rights, rule of law, justice, freedom, and democracy in Ghana. Indeed, as a lawyer, he undertook many of the most important constitutional cases of the modern era in Ghana, which, inter alia, protected the independence of the judiciary, the right of the citizen to demonstrate without police permit, and the right of equal access of all political parties to the State-owned media. 

Nana Akufo-Addo has held numerous positions, and played various active roles in the public life of Ghana. He was a three term Member of Parliament from 1997 to 2008. He served as Attorney General and Minister for Justice (2001-2003), and as Minister for Foreign Affairs from April 2003 to July 2007, both under the government of the former President of the Republic of Ghana, HE John Agyekum Kufuor.

On 23rd December, 2007, he was elected as the New Patriotic Party’s presidential candidate. In the 2008 presidential election, Akufo-Addo led in the first round of voting, but failed to obtain the required 50%+1, pushing the election into a second round runoff between him and the National Democratic Congress candidate, the late John Evans Atta Mills, who eventually won with 50.23% as against Akufo-Addo’s 49.77% vote. 

In 2010, he was elected presidential candidate of the NPP, but, again, lost the 2012 election marginally to the incumbent, the then President John Dramani Mahama. The NPP challenged the results of the election through a petition at the Supreme Court, losing by a 5-4 verdict. Akufo-Addo immediately accepted the decision, congratulated President Mahama, and called upon all NPP supporters to accept the decision, even though he and they all disagreed with it.

This act of statesmanship culminated in the African Union, the European Union, the United Nations, the United States of America, the Christian Council of Ghana and the Chief Imam of Ghana, amongst others, applauding Akufo-Addo for preserving Ghana’s peace, and maintaining Ghana’s status as a beacon of democracy in Africa.

Nana Akufo-Addo was, on 18th October, 2014, re-elected to lead the NPP into the 2016 general elections. He won the presidential election, after defeating the incumbent, President John Dramani Mahama. He obtained 53.85% of the total valid votes cast, as announced by the Electoral Commission, with 44.40% for the losing incumbent.

The Honorable Nasir El-Rufai

Governor of Kaduna State, Nigeria

Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai is the 22nd executive Governor of Kaduna State, Nigeria. Before then, he had served the country in different capacities. First, he served as the Director General of Bureau of Public Enterprises. He also served as the Head of Privatisation agency in Nigeria.

Nasir El-Rufai wrote a book titled “Accidental Public Servant” in 2013. In the book, El-Rufai talks about public service in Nigeria, the many challenges faced by the country, and what can be done while calling on a new generation of leaders to take the country back from the brink of destruction.

Nasir El-Rufai carries out his philanthropic work through Yasmin El-Rufai Foundation (YELF), named after his daughter who died in London in 2011 while undergoing a law conversion course. The foundation focuses on creative writing and women literacy programmes.

Hakeem Belo-Osagie

Chairman, FSDH Holding Company, and Harvard Business School Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

Hakeem Belo-Osagie is an accomplished Nigerian professional and entrepreneur. He earned a degree in Political Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University as well as a law degree from Cambridge University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

He is the Chairman of the Board of FSDH Holding Company Ltd which includes among its holdings a merchant bank, an asset management company, a pension fund administration company and a securities trading company.  Hakeem also chairs the Board of Chocolate City Group, a leading entertainment conglomerate in Nigeria and he is the main stakeholder in and Chairman of the Board of Duval Properties Ltd, a real estate company engaged in a mixed use development in Abuja, Nigeria. He was recently appointed an Expert Global Advisor and member of the International Advisory Group of Equinor the Norwegian energy company previously known as Statoil. 

Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

Professor, Yale University

Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak is a Professor of Economics at Yale University with concurrent appointments in the School of Management and in the Department of Economics. He is the founder and faculty director of the Yale Research Initiative on Innovation and Scale (Y-RISE).

Mobarak has several ongoing research projects in Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Kenya, Malawi and Sierra Leone. He conducts field experiments exploring ways to induce people in developing countries to adopt technologies or behaviors that are likely to be welfare improving. He also examines the complexities of scaling up development interventions that are proven effective in such trials. His research has been published in journals across scientific disciplines and covered by the New York Times, The Economist, Science, BBC, Foreign Policy, Wall Street Journal, the Times of London, and other media outlets around the world. 

Mobarak is collaborating with the government of Bangladesh, BRAC, the major Bangladeshi telecom providers, Innovations for Poverty Action, to devise evidence-based COVID response strategies for Bangladesh and for other developing countries. The work is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,, and the Global Innovation Fund. Twitter: @mushfiq_econ

Amandla Ooko-Ombaka

Senior Engagement Manager, McKinsey & Co.

Amandla Ooko-Ombaka is a development economist with a public sector heart, a private sector mind and a passion for getting things done. She earned a degree in Economics and International Studies from Yale University, an MPA/ID from the Harvard Kennedy School, and MBA from Harvard Business School.

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Amandla is currently a Senior Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company and a leader in the Chemicals and Agriculture practice. She works globally with governments to transform their agricultural sectors, and with private sector agricultural input and food companies to better serve their farmers and consumers.

Amandla is one of the lead authors of McKinsey’s Africa-wide perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on economic growth, employment and critical-health care system capacity include articles including “Tackling COVID-19 in Africa: an unfolding health and economic crisis” and “Finding Africa’s path: protecting lives and safeguarding livelihoods”. She serves on the Leadership Council for the Harvard Centre for African Studies and is currently writing her first book. Follow her @AmandlaOO