09 June 2011 - 11 June 2011

When and how will Africa take off?

Chair: His Excellency Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas

Ditchley’s last conference of the 2010/2011 season looked at the prospects for success and take off in Africa today. We were privileged to have a wealth of expertise and experience round the table and were guided very ably and knowledgeably by our Chairman. The diverse range of participants, including businessmen as well as the usual government, civil society and academic experts, meant a wide spectrum of views was on display. Debate was lively and enthusiastic. But common themes nevertheless came through strongly at times, and there was a significant degree of consensus on the main points. Participants were keen to point out throughout that Africa was an extremely varied and diverse continent, containing 53, soon 54, countries, and lots of diversity within countries too. Generalisations therefore only had a certain value and policy approaches would not work across the board. There were stark differences between, for instance, resource-rich and resource-poor countries and between coastal and landlocked states. However it was still useful to draw broad conclusions in some areas and highlight specific suggestions on how African countries could best develop their economies.

The main focus of discussion was deliberately economic: how to build successfully and sustainably on the assets – many and valuable – that Africa possessed. We did not dwell on this occasion on security issues or ethnic/religious problems linked to conflict. But there was consensus that the key to taking advantage of these assets was getting the politics right – in other words capable states with stable, decent governments in place committed to policies which would manage resources and the economy fairly and efficiently, and a sufficient degree of continuity. It was not a question of governments getting out of the way, since effective governments were vital, but of them providing the right environment in terms of economic management, rule of law and good governance, and letting African talent and entrepreneurship – there was plenty of both - do the rest. This was largely about encouraging the emergence of effective and non-corrupt politicians, and increasing accountability, but it was also about the machinery of government.  In many countries the civil service was weak, underpaid and undervalued, and too politically dominated, which led to a lack of capacity and continuity. Even brilliant leaders needed levers to pull.

One of the messages to emerge most clearly from the discussion was that progress clearly depended on Africans themselves, not outside partners. Outsiders should continue to adhere to the principle of at least ‘doing no harm’, and could help if their motives and approaches were right. But they were not the main drivers of what would happen. Change had to come from within. Africa had not only the natural resources and human capital but also the finance available locally. The key was to stop good people and money draining out of the continent on a large scale, for reasons of corruption or fear of political risk, and to find ways of putting them to good use in Africa itself. Several participants pointed out that no country had ever transformed the lot of its people based primarily on external capital – which was always volatile and the first to leave in the event of trouble. Africa did not have to follow the Asian model but there were lessons there which should be taken seriously. In particular the private sector and governments had to find ways of working together productively for the common good. A new ‘social contract’ between governors and governed, between people and elites, was needed.
Better governance was therefore the imperative of imperatives. Economic success, and increased investment, depended on stability, peace, good policy formulation, the rule of law, reduced corruption, sound macro-economic management and social cohesion. One key element to ensuring Africa’s take off would therefore be to consolidate democracy and political systems beyond the holding of democratic elections. Democratic accountability should be entrenched by encouraging a strong civil society as well as working on predictable policy-making. Good governance could be measured through numerical indicators, but the real test was the health and quality of life of Africa’s citizens. Economic success and chronic, grinding poverty could not co-exist sustainably. If the potential of the continent’s human capital remained untapped, and the opportunity of youth was wasted, then populism as a response to inequalities would become a real danger, if it was not already. Participants believed that North-African style popular uprisings were certainly a future possibility, perhaps a probability, in the rest of Africa too. This would be especially true if economic and social expectations were aroused and then dashed yet again through the venality and dynastic aspirations of the leadership in a particular country, as in Tunisia and Egypt. Large younger populations and huge inequalities existed throughout Sub-Saharan Africa; Uganda was said to be the world’s youngest country. One participant suggested Africa was sitting on a time-bomb, with its leaders still mostly unaware of the risks they were running. Nevertheless, uprisings could still be averted by good leadership, by carefully consolidating democracy, and by listening to the electorate and civil society.

Participants saw some reasons for hope and evidence of improvement in some countries, for example the way in which people power had ensured reasonably fair elections in Nigeria earlier this year. Pressures to govern better and more fairly, for example from businessmen and the rising middle classes, and from the increasingly important African diaspora, were rising and should produce results over time. But this was fragile, and examples of leaders enriching themselves at the expense of their people, and putting their ill-gotten gains outside the country rather than investing in something local and useful, were still far too common. The politics of ‘My turn to eat’ had to change radically. Too many of the local elites were still too comfortable with the present systems. Politics was too often based on ‘goodies’, not issues. One important way forward was seen as building proper taxation systems and managing them well. This was not just because governments needed money to operate and provide essential services. Tax-payers, individual and corporate, had a natural interest in seeing that their money was well used and would demand better services from their governments. It was precisely this kind of steady pressure that was needed. Mauritius was cited on several occasions as a model for other African countries to follow, in terms of sensible long term policy making and investment based on home-grown capital, though the comparisons between a small island and eg Nigeria clearly could not be overdone.

One way to improve governance would be to make African systems of government less centralised and less President-centric. Constitutional reforms that would reduce the power of Presidents and strengthen the capacity of parliaments to exercise effective and professional oversight functions could pay dividends. Moreover elections should not be seen as an end in themselves. Indeed, the extent to which electoral democracy of itself could deliver good governance on the continent in present circumstances was highly open to question, as its results were too often used as a patronage tool, and parties and individuals had to raise money, usually illegally, to finance their campaigns. This was not an argument against democracy as such - for example the so-called Chinese model seemed to have no attractions in Africa – but against the way it was currently practiced in some countries. It was crucial to build on, and mobilise, the willingness of citizens to demand change. One suggestion was to lengthen electoral cycles. Four years was seen by some as too short to be able to implement many of the changes needed across democracies in Africa. Six or seven year terms for governments might be more effective, and would also reduce the amount of money spent on elections. Another way forward was to move away from ‘winner takes all’ electoral systems, which could encourage bad practices, reinforce tribally-based and religious divisions, and end in post-election violence. Greater decentralisation of powers and/or power-sharing arrangements were therefore well worth looking at. Meanwhile it was important that pressure against unconstitutional changes of government from regional organisations remained strong.

In order to nurture successful democracies, future leaders had to be nurtured as well. Participants kept coming back to the centrality of good leadership, in its broadest sense, as well as good systems and institutions, in helping Africa take off and stay airborne. It was noted with much regret that schools and universities which had produced past great African leaders were now in no shape to do so. Participants lamented the “leadership drain” still faced by many African countries. This was not just about politics – cultural role models were also vital in restoring self-respect. Improvements were needed in health, education – particularly tertiary education to entice good students to stay at home – security, and job opportunities to convince the best that they could make a good life for themselves and their families in their own countries. Creating economic opportunities at the same time as opening up the political space would encourage young leaders to return. Offering dual citizenship could also be very important in this context – many African governments had been reluctant but this was not sensible.

Fostering entrepreneurs and encouraging members of the diaspora to return could pay great dividends through their investment in businesses which would then create the desperately needed jobs for all, as well as through the import of international standards of doing business. Remittances were already a huge source of money in Africa, dwarfing official aid and FDI, even if they could no doubt be more productively used. Meanwhile a new generation of African entrepreneurs was already beginning to make a difference and for example putting pressure on governments to perform. This could become a virtuous circle, and indeed needed to do so urgently. Much economic activity in Africa was informal, and did not figure in any statistics, because those concerned did not want to go anywhere near governments. This was understandable in present circumstances but meant such businesses could not grow far, no matter how entrepreneurial their owners. Again, this had to change.

If stable and capable government structures were critical for growth, there were of course many other factors too. Positive developments across the continent recently suggested that some things were moving in the right direction. Mobile technology had allowed some African countries, for example Kenya, to leapfrog legacy technologies, bridge the digital divide, and demonstrate real innovation in ways which helped business as well as people’s lives. A growing and increasingly prosperous and demanding middle class meant that Africa was becoming more attractive as a consumer market. One potentially transformative phenomenon was increased African self-confidence and self-belief, which went along with the view that Africa’s future was now firmly in Africa’s hands. The fact that the continent was increasingly seen outside as an exciting land of opportunity, rather than a problem to be solved, could help transform its prospects, though the risk of disappointed expectations if nothing much happened once again was correspondingly high.

In this context we discussed the role that development aid could now play and how the International Financial Institutions could fit in. These were evidently still emotive issues, with different perceptions around the table. Most believed that while aid was no longer the key factor for development, if it had ever been, and was not what would or could kick-start growth, it could still be useful in supporting important public services and producing valuable results in areas like health and education. But a much more collaborative approach than in the past was needed, with the central aim of capacity building in African states, and ODA needed to become less prone to donor governments’ rapidly changing fads. For their part, recipients should contribute more labour and resources in order to become real stakeholders in development projects and policies. Greater cooperation between communities, private investors and donors would be a step in the right direction. Local ownership was crucial. Meanwhile encouraging private sector growth had increasingly become the focus, and should remain so. The African Development Bank was seen as being particularly effective in this area. ‘Aid for trade’ was also seen as an area of continuing mutual benefit. There was some debate as to whether the Millennium Development Goals would in the end be detrimental to Africa’s development, by denting African confidence at a vital moment:  Africa had not been centrally involved in setting the MDGs and had arguably been set up to fail. Others felt strongly that the MDGs had helpfully influenced national development strategies in Africa and that giving countries specific goals to strive for had been beneficial, even if many of the targets would in the end be missed.

China’s involvement on the continent was widely debated in this economic context. It was argued that China saw its relationship with African countries as a business relationship and was following an aid model in which it regarded itself as a strategic partner rather than a donor – focussing on the productive sector rather than the social sector, as western aid had traditionally done. There was much discussion about whether Chinese involvement in Africa was positive or harmful. Most thought it was on the whole positive. There were problems, for example limited use of local labour and therefore little creation of new jobs or fostering of new skills. Relationships between Chinese workers and locals were not always good. And the basic motive behind much of China’s engagement, of securing natural resources to feed Chinese growth, inevitably aroused suspicions. But Chinese projects were creating valuable infrastructure development and helping modernisation in some places, without the conditionality and lengthy delays which often accompanied western involvement. One participant reported a common sentiment in Africa: “The West asks us what we want. China gives us what we need”. China did not seek to ‘civilise’ Africa or remake it in its own image and Africans appreciated that. It was argued that much Chinese investment was from the private sector, not just driven by the state’s focus on natural resources. On the other hand it was also suggested that China was gradually realising that it could not simply pretend that the problems of its local partners did not exist, and was therefore being drawn into local issues eg in Sudan, and that the Chinese were now more interested in the way the West had tried to handle African problems in the past. In any case we should keep all this in proportion – Chinese investment in Africa was only 5% of its overall FDI.

Whether good or bad, it was clear that the involvement of emerging economies and donors was changing the development picture on the continent. Indian companies were very active too, particularly in areas like agriculture, while there was increasing interest and growing diplomatic presences from eg Brazil, Turkey, Russia, Indonesia and elsewhere. All this was contributing to growth but was also stimulated by rising growth – seven of the fastest growing economies in 2010 had been in Africa, and the continent as a whole was growing at over 5%. However, it was argued, growth should not be seen as an end in itself, however indispensable, but as a way of ensuring sustainable development. The most vulnerable had to be lifted out of poverty. Social inequality and the deficit of opportunity had to be tackled. Several participants voiced their concern that even growth rates of 6% would be insufficient to produce the jobs needed to satisfy the youth bulges in many African countries, and were in any case insufficient to mop up the significant population growth occurring across the continent. 10% was the minimum required. Jobs, jobs, jobs should be the mantra. Population growth itself would only be slowed down, as elsewhere in the world, by improving infant health, more women being educated and entering the workforce, and a growing middle class. Participants agreed more widely that the role of women was absolutely central and that they were an untapped resource in much of Africa. More needed to be done to integrate them into all aspects of Africa’s economy and political life, for example in areas like land tenure. We did not discuss this enough, in retrospect.

If growth rate were to be increased above present levels, improving Africa’s overall competitiveness was vital, and under-considered. African countries could not compete with eg China in manufacturing, even if wage levels were now lower in many places, because of poorly trained work forces and lack of infrastructure of all kinds. Foreign Direct Investment could be crucial here, as it brought in not only capital, but also new technologies and modern practices. There was an interesting discussion here over how far suitable projects were available for outside investors. Some suggested that there was a lot of money already collected and available in foreign investment funds devoted to Africa, waiting for properly developed projects they could invest in. Others suggested that, while there could be a problem of a lack of good paperwork, there was no shortage of projects themselves. Some outside investors might be too concerned to eliminate risk, which would never be possible, or ensure all eventualities were covered. Processing their needs could be extremely expensive for African entrepreneurs or even governments if forced to employ fancy lawyers etc. Moreover there was a need for finance for small projects as well as big ones. All this was one reason why diaspora investment vehicles were doing well in the US and elsewhere, and of increasing importance. Those concerned had real local knowledge and local contacts they could use, and therefore a different and more favourable perception of risk in Africa. At all events, building local capacity to develop and implement attractive projects would be hugely in Africa’s interest, and was a key requirement.  Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements, still a relative rarity in Africa, could meanwhile help reassure outside investors.

While, as already suggested, there was no shortage of money being generated in Africa, lack of useable capital was nevertheless a key inhibitor of growth. Modern ways of saving, managing and using funds had to be strengthened. 80% of Africans currently did not have a bank account, and many small entrepreneurs kept their money under their mattresses, partly because they did not trust either the government or the banks. Meanwhile capital flight out of Africa was seen as a major obstacle to economic progress. There were different views on the extent to which this was the fault of corrupt Africans seeking to hide their money, or of immoral tax havens seeking to siphon it off in dubious ways. But in any case this was really damaging African economies and reducing their growth potential. There were also differing views on the extent to which corruption was at the heart of African’s problems, with some pointing to the huge deterrent effect on outside and internal investors, and others citing the examples of China and India to suggest that high levels of investment and growth could co-exist with high levels of corruption. It was suggested that one reason for the difference might be that in other places the money derived from corruption was still used locally and productively, rather than being salted away abroad, and that even when a contract was awarded for the wrong reasons, the winner was still expected to do a good job.

Whatever the truth of this, everyone agreed that fighting corruption more effectively was vital. Both the demand and the supply side of corruption needed to be addressed. Legislation such as the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the UK Bribery Act should be better enforced in order to create a level playing field, especially for competition among international companies, but there were doubts that the capacity or will were there to do this in these countries themselves. On the African side, transparency was key, as well as strengthening the local judiciary. Otherwise those accused of corruption could simple bring their smart lawyers to bear on ill-trained and ill-equipped prosecutors, and get away with anything.

One sensitive issue linked to foreign investment was the acquisition of land, by sale or lease, by investors from abroad. Some thought it was very important to distinguish genuine agro-business developments, which had a positive impact on local communities by creating jobs and improving skills, from “land grabs”, in which lands were bought to be used to grow crops for foreign consumption. The nature of the transaction was also crucial – did the ‘seller’ really have the right to sell and had existing communities on the land been consulted? Others thought that any foreign acquisition of large amounts of land was detrimental to development, which should be locally owned and driven. Land rights were particularly sensitive in many African countries, where land was seen as a common good and outright ownership often not possible. On the other hand, if land could not be used as collateral, and ownership was in doubt, investment would be discouraged. No agreement could be reached on this emotive subject.

How to exploit Africa’s huge resources of minerals, oil, biodiversity and arable land sustainably and fairly occupied a lot of our time. Recent high commodity prices had had a significant positive effect on economies, but they could not be taken for granted – the idea that such prices would now remain high for the foreseeable future flew in the face of all experience. In any case, great care was needed in the drafting of future contracts with foreign companies to stop the draining of resources with little or no benefit to local economies and local people. Transparency had to be an important part of the answer here. And the responsibility to ensure contracts with foreign investors such as mining companies were fair and accountable, including payment of reasonable local taxes, lay squarely with African governments themselves. The curse of oil or Dutch disease was now also a real threat to many countries in Africa. Good use of devices like sovereign wealth funds to invest the proceeds productively were one obvious response. In any case African development could not be all about natural resources. Tourism for example could be hugely important but was still very underdeveloped.

The sector that was absolutely critical to Africa’s future growth was agriculture. Africa had a real comparative advantage in this area, in terms of underused land, and huge reserves of productivity. In any case much of the population would go on depending on agriculture for the foreseeable future, and countries with populations which were chronically food-insecure could hardly expect to develop effectively. Participants agreed that agriculture needed to be transformed through improved techniques, starting with irrigation, and through a major effort to move up the value chain to food products as well as basic produce. Government policy had a role to play in promoting this. However progress would always be limited as long as the accompanying infrastructure, hard as well as soft, was not in place. Better rural infrastructure, including roads and markets, was vital for agricultural development, which could not really happen if there was not also an increase in large-scale commercial farming.

More widely the main obstacle to the development of manufacturing and production industries was lack of infrastructure, particularly the unreliability of electricity and energy supply in most African countries, even the more advanced ones. Participants agreed that one way to tackle this problem was for Africa to follow a low carbon development model, which would reduce the continent’s oil dependency and make as much use as possible of alternative sources of power, including solar, biomass and hydro. Other critical infrastructure elements still too often underdeveloped across the continent included transportation systems and networks, ports and airports. Poor soft infrastructure, such as financial services and customs processes, was also a huge problem which governments really ought to be able to solve, working together. Most African trucks spent as much time stuck at border posts as on the road, if not more, and also had to pay endless fees, with all the accompanying opportunities for bribery. This was surely a problem that could be fixed through cooperation, without a massive effort. “Lighter than air” aircraft technology would be extremely useful across the continent, especially as it eliminated the need for the costly construction of runways and other physical infrastructure. A regional approach to the improvement of infrastructure should be taken wherever feasible, including rapid completion of the planned road and rail corridors linking north and south. Regional programmes to manage natural resources, such as river basins and lakes, across borders should also be strongly encouraged. As elsewhere the threat of conflict arising from water disputes would otherwise be very high in some parts of Africa.

The inevitable rapid urbanisation of Africa was seen as both an opportunity and a challenge. It could help create the critical mass of consumers, labour and creative energy to produce growing and innovative new businesses. The development of Africa’s cities should be planned using modern technological advances. Making urbanisation more environmentally sustainable would be particularly important. The recent success of Lagos under a new and effective mayor was an example of the difference that a different approach could make even in a very short time.

The question of how to improve regional cooperation received much attention. Everyone agreed that the further development of the African Union and sub-regional organisations should be strongly encouraged, to take advantage of regional trade opportunities (intra-African trade remained absurdly low, at least officially) and other vital areas of potential collaboration. It would also enable Africa to present a more coherent regional approach in dealing with other international players. This would have to mean better resourcing of these organisations if they were to have the requisite capacity, which would mean also rapidly replacing the funding which had come from Libya, Algeria and Egypt. There was agreement that increased integration within Africa was necessary but disagreement as to how fast the pace of integration should be, and whether the ultimate goal should in fact be a United States of Africa. Some argued that, whatever the funding disadvantages, the likely disappearance of the ‘Gaddafi factor’ from the AU might enable it to focus rather better on the real challenges rather than chasing chimeras. Even outside the regional organisations, key players such as South Africa and Nigeria needed to work together much more and coordinate their policies in order both to foster economic growth across the continent and to be a stronger and more united presence on the international stage. The African voice was not yet heard enough – it was not acceptable that Africa only had one representative in the G20.

Bringing together policy suggestions which emerged from the discussion, the following seemed to have wide support:

  • Focus on getting basic governance right;
  • Transform agriculture through industrialisation in order to move African economies up the value chain;
  • Concentrate policies on creating jobs for the growing young population;
  • Reinforce democracies by decentralising and sharing power more, and possibly lengthening terms of office;
  • Create accountability at every level by putting pressure on governments to perform;
  • Strengthen civil services to foster continuity and stability;
  • Halt the “leadership drain” by improving services, security and opportunities at home;
  • Follow an alternative, less carbon-dependent, development model suited to Africa;
  • Use growth as a tool to support sustainable development;
  • Implement anti-corruption legislation and increase transparency radically;
  • Strengthen capacity-building throughout government and private sectors; 
  • Build growth coalitions between governments and the private sector;
  • Promote local ownership of development projects; Use the empowerment of women as a basic development tool;
  • Do much more to encourage diaspora investment and return, including dual citizenship and overseas voting rights;
  • Strengthen regional institutions.

Many issues were raised which are important for Africa’s future but could not be discussed in the time available, given our primarily economic focus. These included tackling conflict and piracy, and managing borders in the wake of the emergence of the new state of South Sudan. We also noted that some issues which would have dominated discussion of Africa fifteen years ago had scarcely been raised this time, such as neo-colonialism, foreign debt and civil-military relations. It was encouraging that the debate had moved on, and the habit of blaming outsiders for Africa’s problems or simply reciting a litany of woes had diminished. The challenges across the continent would remain many and serious, and some countries would doubtless remain mired in deep problems for many years to come. New major challenges such as populism, water crisis, and migration would no doubt arise in the next fifteen years. Food insecurity remained a massive issue for many of Africa’s people. However, our overall conclusion was one of cautious optimism that this time it really would be different.  Africa could not only take off, if it had not already done so, but also reach and maintain a decent cruising height too. Africa’s destiny was firmly in African hands. Two or three major country success stories would transform the dynamics of the continent and produce the necessary powerful demonstration effect needed to change the previous psychology of failure. The determinedly optimistic title of our conference was therefore seen as broadly justified.

This Note reflects the Director’s personal impressions of the conference.  No participant is in any way committed to its content or expression.

Chair :  His Excellency Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas
Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, Secretariat of the ACP-EU Council of Ministers, Brussels (2010-); Member, Advisory Council, World Bank World Development Report (2011).  Formerly: President, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) (2007-10); Executive Secretary, ECOWAS (2002-07); Deputy Minister of Education (1997-2000); Deputy Foreign Minister of Ghana; Member of Parliament, Ghana.

Mr Erwin van der Borght 
Director Africa Program, Amnesty International, International Secretariat, London (2007-).  Formerly: Deputy Director Africa Program, Amnesty International, International Secretariat (2004-05).

Governor Linah Mohohlo
Bank of Botswana (1976-); Governor, Bank of Botswana (1999-); Member, Board of Governors, International Monetary Fund (IMF); Member, Africa Emerging Markets Forum, Washington DC; Member, Africa Progress Panel; Member, Investment Committee of United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund; Chair, Global Agenda Council on Poverty and Development Finance (World Economic Forum); Chair, Africa World Economic Forum 2011. 

Mr Lucien Bradet 

President and CEO, Canadian Council on Africa, Ottawa (2004-).  Formerly: Department of Regional Economic Expansion and Industry Canada; Information Canada; Department of Foreign Affairs Canada.
His Excellency Mr David Collins CD
High Commissioner for Canada to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda; Ambassador to Burundi, Eritrea and Somalia; and Permanent Representative to the UN Organisations based in Nairobi (2010-).  Formerly: High Commissioner for Canada to Malaysia (2008-10).

His Excellency Mr Robert Orr 
High Commissioner for Canada to Tanzania, Seychelles and Zambia, Ambassador to Comoros, Representative to East African Community (2009-).  Formerly: Minister (Immigration), Canadian High Commission, London (2006-09).

Mr Matej Bajgar 

Weidenfeld Scholar, St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford; Research Assistant, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.  Formerly: Intern, Imani Development, Cape Town (2010-11).

Mr Terence Wills
Special Assistant to Director, Africa and Indian Ocean, responsible for regional integration and planning studies, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Paris.  Formerly: Consul General, Pointe-Noire, Congo-Brazzaville (2007-10).

Mr Zyad Limam 
Publisher, Afrique Magazine, Paris; TV and Radio Commentator.

Dr Yaw Ansu 

Chief Economist, African Center for Economic Transformation, Ghana.  Formerly: various positions at the World Bank.

Mr Kojo Parris 

Visiting Fellow, University of Leeds; Honorary Consul of Guyana to South Africa; Founding CEO, Social Private Equity South Africa; Founder, Teach Zimbabwe Trust; Chairman, Social Entrepreneurs Network of Africa; Director, Operation Hope. 

Dr Jyoti Jeetun 
Deputy Director, Centre for the Development of Enterprise, Brussels (2010- ).  Formerly: Vice President, Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Barclays Capital, London.

Mr Vitaliy Voronkov 

Rhodes Scholar; MSc Candidate in Financial Economics, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford; Vice Chair, 2011 Oxford Enterprise Africa conference, Saïd Business School; CapitOx President 2010/2011.  Formerly: Analyst, Private Equity Group, Goldman Sachs (2010).

Mr Innocent Chukwuma 

Founder and Director, CLEEN Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes public safety, security and accessible justice in Nigeria.
Mr Uche Igwe
Africa Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center; Visiting Scholar, Africa Studies Program, Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.   Formerly: Civil Society Liaison Officer, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, The Presidency, Abuja.
Dr Jerome Okolo 
Executive Vice Chairman, GeoQinetiq, Abuja; General Secretary, National Think Tank for Nigeria.  New Technologies Entrepreneur, Education Rights Advocate and Civil Society Organiser.

Dr Gu Jing 

Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton (2006-); Policy Advisor, International Poverty Reduction Centre, Beijing.  Formerly: Consultant: China-Africa Business Council (2008-10).

Dr Greg Mills 

Director, The Brenthurst Foundation, Parktown, South Africa (2005-).  Formerly: National Director (1996-2005), Director of Studies (1994-96), South African Institute of International Affairs.

Ms Deborah Vorhies 
Managing Director/Director of Operations, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Geneva. Formerly: Biodiversity portfolio, International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group.

Mr Glenn Ho

Partner, KPMG Advisory Services, Cape Town; Head, Local China Practice, KPMG, South Africa.

Mr Richard Dowden 
Director, Royal African Society (2004-).  Formerly: Africa Editor, The Economist (1995-2004), The Independent (1986-95).  Author.

Miss Coco Ferguson 
Partner and Co-Founder (2008), Maris Capital Advisors LLP, London.  Formerly: Director for Programmes, Institute for Philanthropy (2005-08).
Dr Caspar Fithen 
Founding Director, Livingstone & Company, London.  Formerly: European Commission Special Adviser to the Government of Liberia on the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme; Consultant to the International Center for Transitional Justice (2007-08).
Mr Tim Hitchens LVO 
Director Africa, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London (2010-).  Formerly: Director European Political Affairs (2008-10); Head, Africa Department (Equatorial).

Professor Sir David King KB 
Director, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford (2008-); Director of Research in Physical Chemistry, University of Cambridge.  Adviser to President Kagame of Rwanda; Adviser on African Development to the European Commissioners. A Governor, The Ditchley Foundation.

Mr Andrew Ratcliffe 
Head of Development, Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, London.  Formerly: Governance Advisor, Office of the President, Rwanda; Senior Education Adviser, Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, UK.

Mr Alex Vines OBE 
Research Director, Regional and Security Studies, Chatham House (2008-); Head, Africa Programme, Chatham House (2002-).  Formerly: Senior Researcher, Business and Human Rights, Human Rights Watch (2002-10).

Dr Nicholas Westcott CMG 
Managing Director for Africa, European External Action Service (2011-).  Formerly: HM Diplomatic Service (1982-2011); British High Commissioner to Ghana and Ambassador to Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Niger and Togo.

Mr Alex Duncan 

Director, The Policy Practice, Brighton; Senior Associate Member, St Antony's College, Oxford; Senior Research Associate, African Studies Centre, Oxford.  Formerly: Senior, then Principal, Economist (1997-2003) and Senior Programme Manager (1996-97), Oxford Policy Management Ltd.

Mr Patrick Hayford 

Director, Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, United Nations, New York (2006-).  Formerly: Director for African Affairs, Executive Office of the Secretary-General, United Nations, New York (1999-2005).

Mr Eugene Owusu 
UN Resident Coordinator, UN Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Ethiopia. 

Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu 

Chief of Staff, Office of the Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa.

Mr James Hoge Jr 

Counselor, Executive Office, Council on Foreign Relations (2010-); Chairman, Human Rights Watch (2010-); Vice Chairman, International Center for Journalists (2010-); Director, Foundation for a Civil Society (2000-). A Director and Chairman of the Advisory Council, The American Ditchley Foundation.
Mr Michael Mahdesian 
Chairman, Servicon Systems Inc, Los Angeles; Member, Board of Advisors, School of Public Policy, UCLA; Member, Board of Directors, Operation USA, Democracy Council and Pacific Council on International Policy. 

Ambassador Donald McHenry
Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.  Formerly:  Permanent Representative of the USA to the UN, New York (1979-81);  A Director, The American Ditchley Foundation.

Dr J Peter Pham 
Director, Michael S Ansari Africa Center, The Atlantic Council of the United States, Washington, DC (2011-); Vice President, Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (2008-); Editor-in-Chief, The Journal of the Middle East and Africa (2010-); Member, Senior Advisory Group, US Africa Command (2008-). 

Ambassador Robin Renée Sanders 
International Affairs Advisor, Africare (on secondment from US Department of State) (2010-).  Formerly: Ambassador of the USA to Nigeria and US Permanent Representative to the Economic Community of West African States (2007-10).

Ms Deborah Ensor 

Regional Director, Sub Saharan Africa, Internews Network (2009-).  Formerly: Internews Sudan Country Director (2008-09); Gender-based violence and HIV Specialist, Kenya/Uganda/Sudan (2003-08); US Journalist, Editor (1990-2002).