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Connecting Ideas | Strengthening Capacity | Innovation Solutions


Plenary and Session Speakers


The conference will be a two-day event structured as a workshop. As a platform for intellectuals’ engagement, the workshop will feature keynote addresses from Mr. Aliko Dangote, Owner, Dangote Group and Co-Chair of SDGC/A Board; Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Earth Institute; Her Excellency Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, as well as other prominent speakers. In addition, a panel discussion with a diverse range of dynamic speakers and five thematic group discussions will be held on comprehensively improving the education curriculum, quality of research outputs, universities infrastructure, international outlook, and financing and cooperation.

His Excellency Paul Kagame

President of the Republic of Rwanda 
SDGC/A Founding Board Chair


Dr. Belay Begashaw

Director General, SDGC/A

Prior to being appointed as Director General to the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (SDGC/A), Dr. Begashaw was the Director of the Columbia Global Centers for Africa as part of the Earth Institute (EI). He joined the EI in January 2009 as a Senior Agriculture Policy Specialist for Eastern and Southern Africa, and soon became the Director of the MDG Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. He has served as the Associate Director of the Agriculture and Food Security Center of the EI. Dr. Begashaw has over 20 years of experience in agriculture extension and rural development, ranging from a grass-roots development agent to the Minister of Agriculture for Ethiopia.

In the past three years, Dr. Begashaw has done extensive consulting work for several international organizations in the area of food security, poverty reduction and investment. Dr. Begashaw earned his MPA degree from Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, M.Sc. from University of Reading and a B.Sc. from Addis Ababa University, Almay College of Agriculture. He also holds a Ph.D. in agricultural policy from Texas A&M University where he was a Borlaug Fellow.

Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs

Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Earth Institute

Jeffrey D. Sachs is a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, senior UN advisor, bestselling author, and syndicated columnist whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 80 countries. He has twice been named among Time Magazine‘s 100 most influential world leaders. He is the Director of the Earth Institute’s Center for Sustainable Development after serving as the Director of The Earth Institute since 1995. He is a Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and Health Policy and Management at Columbia University.

He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on the Sustainable Development Goals, and previously advised UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on both the Sustainable Development Goals and Millennium Development Goals and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals. He is co-founder and Chief Strategist of Millennium Promise Alliance, and is director of the Millennium Villages Project.

Dr. Abdalla Hamdok

Executive Secretary (a.i.), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

Dr. Abdalla Hamdok was appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the Acting Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), effective 1 November 2016. Dr. Hamdok takes the reigns following the departure of Dr. Carlos Lopes of Guinea-Bissau on 31 October. With over 30 years’ experience in the areas of public sector reforms, governance, regional integration and resource management, Dr. Hamdok has headed major portfolios, addressing diverse development challenges of the African policy landscape.

Dr. Hamdok has served as Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist of the ECA since 2011 prior to which, he successfully headed ECA’s portfolios of activities on development policy management, NEPAD and regional integration, and governance and public administration. From 2003-2008, he served the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) as its Regional Director for Africa and the Middle East. His earlier career saw him move progressively into key senior positions in the Public and Private Sector. He held the positions of Chief Technical Advisor (1995-1997) at the International Labour Organization, Zimbabwe; Principal Policy Economist (1997-2001) at the African Development Bank, Cote d’Ivoire; Head of the Public Sector Group and Member of the management committee (1993-1995) at Deloitte & Touche Management Consultants, Zimbabwe; and Senior Official (1981-1987) at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning of Sudan. Dr. Abdalla Hamdok is from Sudan and he holds a PhD and MA in Economics from the School of Economic Studies, University of Manchester, UK and a BSc. (honours) from the University of Khartoum, Sudan.

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