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What Women CEOs in Africa Need to Know About Artificial Intelligence

Featuring the 2022 Definitive List of Women CEOs hosted an unprecedented virtual event in collaboration with Harvard Business School Professor Karim Lakhani and Harvard Business School Professor Tsedal Neeley.  The one-stop, strategic business primer on AI, was presented for a generalist, executive audience.


Teresa Clarke

Teresa Clarke

Chair &
Executive Editor

Ms. Clarke is Chair of LLC, a media holding company with an extensive array of platforms that reach a global audience interested in African content and community. Previously, Ms. Clarke was a Managing Director in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs & Co., where she led corporate finance and merger & acquisition transactions for corporate clients in the industrials and real estate sectors.

Ms. Clarke serves on the board of directors and Audit Committee of American Tower, (NYSE:AMT), Arthur J. Gallagher (NYSE:AJG), the global insurance brokerage with operations in 56 countries.  She is the former board chair of Australian fintech, Change Financial (ASX:CCA).  She served on the board of Cim Finance (SEM:CIM), a financial services company, and on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa.

She is on the Leadership Council of Women Corporate Directors (New York) and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ms. Clarke earned an A.B., cum laude, from Harvard College, an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Karim Lakhani


Harvard Business School

Karim R. Lakhani specializes in technology management, innovation, digital transformation and artificial intelligence (AI). His innovation-related research is centered around his role as the founder and co-director of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard and as the principal investigator of the NASA Tournament Laboratory. Karim is known for his original scholarship on open source communities and innovation contests and has pioneered the use of field experiments to help solve innovation-related challenges while simultaneously generating rigorous research in partnership with organizations like NASA, Harvard Medical School, The Broad Institute, TopCoder, The Linux Foundation and various private organizations. His digital transformation research investigates the role of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) in reshaping business and operating models. This research is complemented through his leadership as co-founder of the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative and as co-founder and co-chair of the Harvard Business Analytics Program, a university-wide online program transforming mid-career executives into data-savvy leaders.

Tsedal Neeley

Tsedal Neeley


Harvard Business School

Tsedal Neeley (@tsedal) is the Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration, Senior Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Research Strategy, and Faculty Chair of the Christensen Center for Teaching and Learning at the Harvard Business School. Recognized as one of the 100 people transforming business who are innovating, sparking trends, and tackling global challenges by Business Insider, her work focuses on how leaders can scale their organizations by developing and implementing global and digital strategies. She regularly advises top leaders who are embarking on virtual work and large scale-change that involves global expansion, digital transformation, and becoming more agile.

Yes, that Machine Algorithm is Biased

A fascinating presentation on how implicit racist and sexist biases are built into today’s AI algorithms, and the resulting implications for the use of AI among Africans and women.  

Teki Akuetteh

Teki Akuetteh

Founder and Executive Director

Africa Digital Rights Hub

ICT/Telecom Lawyer

“In developing artificial intelligence, we must strive to maintain standards that allow all people to live in dignity, freedom, equality, justice, and peace. Anything short of this is against the essence of life itself.“

Teki Akuetteh is an ICT/Telecom Lawyer, a Privacy/Data Protection Consultant and Senior Partner at a law firm based in Accra, Ghana. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Africa Digital Rights Hub, a member of the UN Global Pulse Privacy Advisory Group, and a non-resident fellow of the Center for Global Development.

Previously, Teki has worked for the Government of Ghana in the development of several key legislations for the ICT sector including the Data Protection Act, 2012 (Act 843), Electronic Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775), and Electronic Transactions Act, 2012 (Act 772). She was also the first Executive Director of the Data Protection Commission of Ghana.

Teki holds an LLM in Information Technology and Telecommunications Law from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland and a Bachelor of Arts in Law and Political Science from the University of Ghana (Legon), Accra – Ghana.

Kay Firth-Butterfield

Kay Firth-Butterfield

Head of Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

World Economic Forum

“We, have to remember that when we create algorithms, we should be creating them for a whole society. We should be getting women, persons of color, diversity into those teams that are creating the algorithms at the moment.”

Kay Firth-Butterfield is Head of Artificial Intelligence and a member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum and is one of the foremost experts in the world on the governance of AI. She is a Barrister, former Judge and Professor, technologist and entrepreneur who has an abiding interest in how humanity can equitably benefit from new technologies, especially AI.  Kay is an Associate Barrister (Doughty Street Chambers), Master of the Inner Temple, London and serves on the Lord Chief Justice’s Advisory Panel on AI and Law. She co-founded AI Global and was the world’s first Chief AI Ethics officer in 2014 and created the AIEthics twitter hashtag.  Kay is Vice-Chair of The IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems and was part of the group which met at Asilomar to create the Asilomar AI Ethical Principles. She is on the Polaris Council for the Government Accountability Office (USA), the Advisory Board for UNESCO International Research Centre on AI and AI4All. Kay has advanced degrees in Law and International Relations and regularly speaks to international audiences addressing many aspects of the beneficial and challenging technical, economic and social changes arising from the use of AI. She has been consistently recognized as a leading woman in AI since 2018 and was featured in the New York Times as one of 10 Women Changing the Landscape of Leadership.

Rana el Kaliouby

Dr. Rana el Kaliouby

AI Thought Leader, Machine Learning Scientist
Author of “Girl Decoded”
Deputy CEO at Smart Eye

The majority of our communication is conveyed through non-verbal cues: facial expressions, tone of voice, body language. But that communication is lost when we interact with others through our smartphones and devices. The result is a digital universe that’s emotion blind.

Rana’s life work is about humanizing technology before it dehumanizes us. She is an Egyptian-American scientist, entrepreneur, angel investor, author, and an AI thought leader on a mission to bring emotional intelligence to our digital world. She is the Deputy CEO at Smart Eye and formerly, Co-Founder and CEO of Affectiva, an MIT spin-off and category defining AI company. Rana realized a successful exit for Affectiva in June 2021 when the company was acquired by Smart Eye, where she is currently focused on scaling the company to a global AI powerhouse. She is also an executive fellow at the Harvard Business School where she teaches about AI and startups. Her bestselling memoir, Girl Decoded: A Scientist’s Quest to Reclaim Our Humanity by Bringing Emotional Intelligence to Technology (Penguin Random House, April 2020), follows her personal journey, growing up in the Middle East and moving to the United States to become an entrepreneur, juxtaposed against her work building Emotion AI.

Rana has raised $50M+ in venture capital from top-tier investors to bring Affectiva’s Emotion AI, built on deep learning, computer vision, speech science and massive amounts of real-world data, to 90+ countries and to several industries including the automotive industry and media analytics. She has a track record of translating technology innovations into products that address the needs of massive international markets and spearheading the application of Emotion AI to market research, automotive, mental health, autism, conversational interfaces, robotics and education.

She is extremely passionate about the ethical development and deployment of AI, including advocating for standards to ensure data privacy and to mitigate data and algorithmic bias. To help establish best practices and guidelines for AI ethics, Rana is part of industry organizations like the Partnership on AI and the World Economic Forum’s Council of Young Global Leaders.

As one of few women leading an AI company, she cares deeply about her role as an advocate for diversity and inclusion in tech and leadership. To help catalyze change and improve equity industry-wide, she is a member of the Boston Steering Committee for All Raise supporting female founders and funders, and a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) where she is serves on YPO’s New England board. Rana is also a venture partner of the MIT Media Lab E14 Fund, a Board Member of SIMPEDs at Boston Children’s Hospital, and a Board of Trustees member at the Mass Technology Leadership Council and at the American University in Cairo, the leading liberal arts university in the Middle East. A TED speaker, and co-host of a PBS NOVA series on AI, Rana has been recognized on Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list and as one of Forbes’ Top 50 Women in Tech. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and a Post Doctorate from MIT.

Ati Ngubevana

Ati Ngubevana

Group Executive
Digital Progress Re-engineering


“I cannot think of an industry that will not be penetrated by technology. The differentiator will be the human aspect.”

Ati Ngubevana, is a reputable, energetic evangelist of digital transformation. She has digital strategic and operational experience in Business and IT partnerships.

A catalyst in establishing trust and articulating value proposition across multiple pyramids of stakeholders and industries.
Experienced in leading Strategic Digitisation programs for multi-national organisations over the EMEA, LATAM and APAC regions including managing digitisation strategies in South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Tanzania , and the DRC.

A dynamic executive that has been tasked with implementing Intelligent Automation within the Vodacom Group.
Experience and Knowledge in Banking, Mining and Telecommunications.

Ati is highly skilled in assessing organisational operational processes & culture. Thereafter assess which technologies will enhance their shareholder value through process efficiencies and articulate what value Big Data (AI,ML) can bring to an organization.

African Women Rocking A.I.

5-minute Video

African Women Rocking AI is a dynamic video showcasing professionals,  entrepreneurs, and change-makers who are actively involved in the artificial intelligence field. 

How is AI Changing the Industries Most Important to Africa?

Global experts in AI will share their knowledge on the latest developments within the key industries important to Africa: financial services, telecoms, natural resources, agriculture, and technology. Among the speakers on these topics are the senior executives who oversee the adoption of artificial intelligence for some of the world’s largest corporations.

Current Global AI Trends in Financial Services

Charese Smiley

Charese Smiley

Lead, AI Research
Vice President
J.P. Morgan

Charese Smiley is an AI Research Lead on the AI Research team at J.P. Morgan. Her research interests center around computational linguistics and natural language processing.

Before joining JPMorgan, Charese worked on the Vision & Language Technology team at Capital One where she led research to build complaint models for customer service channel dialogues and at Thomson Reuters, with the Research & Development group, building automatic summaries for Eikon financial software and natural language question answering for Westlaw legal search, ultimately leading to two patents.

Charese is a winner of Turing tests for creative arts, claiming 1st prize in Dartmouth’s 2017 PoetiX competition for machine-generated sonnet most indistinguishable from human poetry. She also won the 2018 LimeriX competition for machine-generated limericks.

Ms Smiley holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Texas A&M University and a Ph.D. in Computational Linguistics from Indiana University.

jp morgan

Current Global AI Trends in Telecoms

Meghna Sinha

Meghna Sinha

Artificial Intelligence
Vice President

Meghna Sinha is Vice President, Artificial Intelligence at Verizon. Her organization is responsible for designing highly resilient, reusable and scalable models that power all major decisioning systems at Verizon. With 120m customers, 1600+ retail stores, 132k employees and an aggressive 5G expansion roadmap, the scope of business problems is very diverse requiring deep expertise in classical statistical methods as well as machine learning/deep learning methods. 

Meghna’s data science career spans over twenty-two years with a decade spent at the intersection of digital commerce, retail, personalization and experimentation. Her passion for solving real-world problems with AI has her advising and mentoring a handful of early stage startups in Southern California. 

Meghna also serves on the Board of Boys and Girls Club of Central Orange Coast supporting 9,500 youths annually in the Orange County area. She develops programs that will help youths gain exposure, familiarity and access to STEAM learning opportunities. 

Prior to Verizon, Meghna was at Target for almost a decade building and scaling machine learning and experimentation capabilities during Target’s multi-year transformation from pure brick and mortar to an omni-channel retailer. The capabilities she led were key enablers in many firsts including real-time personalization, experimenting and expanding Target’s fulfillment capabilities like Drive-up, launching Target’s Circle loyalty program, scaling the digital experiences for new brand launches, and remodeling Target’s 2000+ stores. Meghna was also tasked to lead an Enterprise wide Testing and Measurement program at Target that created the movement and culture for faster testing and iterating on ideas.

In the pre-data science era, Meghna spent a decade plus at IRI building statistical predictive capabilities for CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) companies. Her undergrad degree is in statistics and mathematics and she received her master in statistics from the University of Cincinnati.

Current Global AI Trends in Technology

Jason Crusan

Jason Crusan

Vice President
Woodside Energy

Former Director

Jason Crusan has more than 20 years of experience in leveraging industry, academia and government partnerships to accelerate technology advancements across multiple industries.

Mr. Crusan had spent over 14 years with the United States’ NationalAeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), primarily in human spaceflight. He was also the director its advanced exploration systems where he led many technology developments and partnerships with commercial industry, including the first human-rated commercial module for the International Space Station (ISS), the first advanced manufacturing device in space, developing launch standards for CubeSats, establishing the initial framework agreement for making the ISS a National Lab for commercial use, and as senior executive over NASA’s return to the Moon efforts.

Mr. Crusan was the founding director of the Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation, formed to advance the utilisation of open innovation methodologies across the US Government.

He relocated to Perth in March 2019 when he was appointed vice president of technology at Woodside Energy, where he is responsible for identifying, developing and maturing technologies that foster new growth, increase production, reduce costs, and enable Woodside’s people to work safely and efficiently.

Mr. Crusan holds Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Physics, and a Master’s in Computing Information Systems.

Current Global AI Trends in Natural Resources

Wambui Kinya

Wambui Kinya

Managing Director
EMEA Region

Former Vice President

Wambui Kinya is the Regional Managing Director, EMEA for Elephant Ventures a technology innovation professional services and venture firm. She has more than 20 years of experience delivering cutting-edge technology solutions by aligning business strategy and technology strategy goals, then building and leading a technology organization to achieve those goals. 

Prior to Elephant Ventures, Wambui was Vice President of Client Engineering at Andela, a technology company that helps companies build high-performing distributed engineering teams. She was responsible for Andela’s technology delivery ensuring successful and growing long-term engagements for clients and engineers alike. 

While serving as Chief Strategy Officer at Andela, Wambui initiated a capacity-building partnership between Andela and technology companies, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft which has raised over $1 million and has successfully trained 80,000 software developers across 50 African countries. She also positioned Andela as a technology partner addressing talent development and youth employment which led to a public-private partnership with the Government of Rwanda for the 2018 opening of the Andela Pan African hub in Kigali. 

Wambui was formerly Group Managing Director, Pan Africa, and South America, for global technology consulting firm ThoughtWorks. 

Currently based in Nairobi, Wambui has been in the professional services (digital, mobile marketing, and technology consulting) industry for twenty years and has worked in North America, Europe and Africa for companies such as Praekelt Consulting, IBM Global Business Services and Digitas (Publicis Groupe). 

Wambui is currently a non-executive board member of Mozilla Foundation, Medic, and FSDH Asset Management. 

Current Global AI Trends in Agriculture

Michael Gomes

Michael Gomes

Vice President
Business Development
Topcon Agriculture

Michael has been active in the Digital transformation of Agriculture for more than 25 years, as it has been moving from Precision technologies to Decision-based systems with a careers experience of implementing electronics for automation from planting through harvest. As Vice President of Strategic Business Development – Agriculture for Topcon his responsibilities combine strategic relationships, product development and business strategy to drive growth. His personal experience includes utilizing technologies of measurement; optical, sonic, and positioning toward improving in-field efficiency and is a co-inventor on patents for Auto Steering, Sensors and User Interface. In support of developing a stronger industry, Michael currently serves on the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), Ag sector Board and councils for Regulatory, Ag Innovation & Future of Food. He was also recently appointed to serve a 2nd term on the federal taskforce for the Connectivity & Technology needs for Precision Agriculture in the USA under the FCC. He is a founding board member of Ag Data Coalition not for profit corporation and has served as moderator of Germany’s VDI conference on Connected Off Highway vehicles 2018-2021. Michael is frequently a guest speaker at conferences and podcasts on Precision Agriculture or related subjects.

As a native of California, he has familiarity with vegetable crop production and irrigation of the Western US. Michael holds a BS from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; MBA from Golden Gate University, graduate of the California Ag Leadership Program (Class 33) and has also been recognized as a member of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity. He and his wife Kara have a daughter and enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and beef cattle ranching in their spare time. 

About Topcon Positioning Group
Topcon Positioning Group is headquartered in Livermore, California, USA ( Topcon Positioning Group designs, manufactures and distributes precise positioning products and solutions for the global surveying, construction, agriculture, civil engineering, BIM, mapping and GIS, asset management and mobile control markets.  Its brands include Topcon, Sokkia, Tierra, Wachendorff Elektronik, Digi-Star, RDS Technology, NORAC and 2LS. Topcon Corporation (, founded in 1932, is traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (7732). 

Digital Mindset:

A.I. is the easy part;
How do you get your African company to transition to a digital-first world?

A conversation among two Harvard Business School professors about the toughest part of adopting AI: not the technology itself, but the organizational change that it demands.  Professor Tsedal Neeley, author of the soon to be published book, “Digital Mindset,” in conversation with Professor Karim Lakhani about what it takes for a CEO to lead an organization through change to a digital-first, AI-driven organization.

Harvard Professor

Karim Lakhani

Karim R. Lakhani is a technology management and innovation expert and is the Dorothy and Michael Hintze Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School.

Karim R. Lakhani specializes in technology management, innovation, digital transformation and artificial intelligence (AI). His innovation-related research is centered around his role as the founder and co-director of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard and as the principal investigator of the NASA Tournament Laboratory. Karim is known for his original scholarship on open source communities and innovation contests and has pioneered the use of field experiments to help solve innovation-related challenges while simultaneously generating rigorous research in partnership with organizations like NASA, Harvard Medical School, The Broad Institute, TopCoder, The Linux Foundation and various private organizations. His digital transformation research investigates the role of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) in reshaping business and operating models. This research is complemented through his leadership as co-founder of the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative and as co-founder and co-chair of the Harvard Business Analytics Program, a university-wide online program transforming mid-career executives into data-savvy leaders.

Karim has taught extensively in Harvard Business School’s MBA, executive, doctoral and online programs. He has co-developed new courses on Digital Innovation & Transformation, Digital Strategy and Innovation, and Laboratory to Market. He co-chairs the HBS executive program on Competing with Big Data and Business Analytics, various custom executive education offerings and developed the HarvardX online course on Technology Entrepreneurship.

Winner of the 2015 Case Centre Award in the Production and Operations Management category for “Open Innovation at Siemens” with Katja Hutter, Stephanie Healy Pokrywa, and Johann Fuller (HBS Case 613-100).
Finalist for the 2013 McKinsey Award for the best article in Harvard Business Review for “Using the Crowd as an Innovation Partner” with Kevin J. Boudreau (April 2013).
Finalist for the 2013 Best Paper in Management Science from the Manufacturing and Service Operations Management Society for “Incentives and Problem Uncertainty in Innovation Contests: An Empirical Analysis” with Kevin J. Boudreau and Nicola Lacetera (May 2011).
Winner of the 2008 TUM Research Excellence Award in Innovation and Leadership from Technische Universität München and the Peter Pribilla Foundation.
Received the 2011 Innovative Management Partner (IMP) Excellence in Innovation Research Award from Innsbruck University School of Management.
Finalist for the 2006 Best Dissertation Award from the Technology and Innovation Management Division of the Academy of Management.
Recipient of the 2006 Brad W. Hosler Outstanding Student Paper Award at the Portland International Conference on Management of Engineering and Technology.

Harvard Professor

Tsedal Neeley

Tsedal Neeley (@tsedal) is the Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Research Strategy at the Harvard Business School.

Recognized as one of the 100 people transforming business who are innovating, sparking trends, and tackling global challenges by Business Insider, her work focuses on how leaders can scale their organizations by developing and implementing global and digital strategies. She regularly advises top leaders who are embarking on virtual work and large scale-change that involves global expansion, digital transformation, and becoming more agile.

Her book, Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere (2021, Harper Collins Business), provides remote workers and leaders with the best practices necessary to perform at the highest levels in their organizations. Her award-winning book, The Language of Global Success: How a Common Tongue Transforms Multinational Organizations chronicles the behind-the-scenes globalization process of a company over the course of five years. She has also published extensively in leading scholarly and practitioner-oriented outlets such as Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Management Science, Journal of International Business, Strategic Management Journal and Harvard Business Review, and her work has been widely covered in media outlets such as BBC, CNN, Financial Times, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and the Economist. Her HBS case, Managing a Global Team: Greg James at Sun Microsystems, is one of the most used cases worldwide on the subject of virtual work.

Tsedal co-chairs the executive offering, Leading Global Businesses, which helps top leaders develop emerging and mature market strategies in a global and increasingly digital economy. She also teaches extensively in executive programs such as the Harvard Business Analytics Program. She has previously been the course head for the first-year required Leadership and Organizational Behavior course in the MBA program that focuses on how to lead effectively; the curriculum addresses group behavior and performance, organization design, change and how to align people behind a common vision.

Received the 2015 Charles M. Williams Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Honored as a 2013 Stanford Distinguished Alumni Scholar.

Received the 2006–2007 Stanford University Lieberman Fellowship award at the School of Engineering for excellence in teaching and research.

2022 Definitive List of Women CEOs

5-minute Dynamic Video Presentation reveals its 2022 Definitive List of Women CEOs. In its second year, the list is a unique, data-driven research effort that highlights the women who lead big business in Africa.

Women CEOs on Artificial Intelligence

The final session, is a series of short presentations by leaders from the 2022 Definitive List of Women CEOs, speaking about how their companies are using AI in Africa today.

Lillian Barnard

Lillian Barnard

Microsoft South Africa

Lillian has more than 20 years’ experience in the ICT industry. She is a seasoned professional with proven capabilities and a strong understanding of local market. Through the various executive positions that Lillian has held, both locally and abroad, she has gained extensive knowledge in sales, operations, business controls, strategy, business transformation and leadership. This experience, combined with her deep industry knowledge, positions her perfectly to strengthen Microsoft’s commitment to South Africa and its wishes to drive its digital transformation ambitions and empower governments, organisations and individuals to achieve more.

She has become renowned for building strong, high-performing teams that consistently deliver on their financial targets, while also bringing innovative digital solutions to her partners and customers. Having led large teams both locally and abroad, she is recognised for strength in developing people and creating an environment where everyone can do their best work.

Lillian is passionate about enabling a truly diverse and inclusive workplace. By drawing on her own experiences, she endeavours to create a culture that enables people to bring their authentic selves to the workplace and be embraced for that individuality. She has been pivotal in re-igniting the South African chapter of Women@Microsoft and spurring a culture that encourages gender equality in the workplace.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Lillian served as Chief Sales Officer for Vodacom’s Enterprise Business for two years. She also headed LillianB Consulting Services where she was an advisor and coach to business leaders. During Lillian’s 15-year career at IBM, she held a number of key leadership positions, including working for 7-years at the IBM European Headquarters in France and Switzerland.

She previously served on the boards of Vodacom South Africa, Mango Airlines and Dad-fund Non-Profit Organization.

Lillian holds a BCom Honours in Business Economics from the University of the Western Cape.

Amelia Beattie

Amelia Beattie

Chief Executive
Liberty Two Degrees

Amelia has 21 years’ experience in the property sector, initially established at Old Mutual Property in various positions before exiting her role as the Chief Operations Officer.

Amelia joined STANLIB in 2012 to establish the STANLIB Direct Property Investment business.

In addition to her role at STANLIB, Amelia served as President of the South African Association (SAPOA) FROM 2014 TO 2015. She is also past Chairperson of Women’s Property Network (WPN) and served as a
trustee for the education trusts of WPN and SAPOA until 2018.

Amelia assumed the role of Chief Executive of Liberty Two Degrees since listing in December 2016. Today, Liberty Two Degrees has an undivided share in South Africa’s most iconic shopping centres, namely Sandton City, Nelson Mandela Square, Eastgate Shopping Centre, Melrose Arch and Liberty Midlands Mall among others across the country.

Aida Diarra

Aïda Diarra

Senior Vice President and Head of Sub-Saharan Africa

Aïda Diarra joined Visa as SVP and Head for Sub-Saharan Africa at Visa in November 2018. In this capacity, she oversees Visa’s business operations in fifty countries and seven offices in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her focus is on digitizing cash, driving wider digital acceptance, and promoting financial inclusion in the diverse markets of the region. She is a recognized leader in the financial services and digital finance industries, having previously led Western Union’s Africa portfolio.

Aïda has a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in International Business & Management from the University of Hartford, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from American Business School in France.


Hélène Echevin

CEO - CIEL Healthcare Ltd
CIEL Group

Hélène Echevin is the Chief Executive Officer of CIEL Healthcare Ltd since 1 July 2019. CIEL Healthcare Ltd regroups all healthcare activities of CIEL – C-Care (Mauritius) Ltd and IMG (Uganda). In this capacity, she is also the Executive Chairperson of C-Care (Mauritius) Ltd, board director of CIEL Healthcare and IMG. Since joining CIEL in March 2017, Hélène Echevin has played a key role in developing CIEL’s healthcare portfolio and in leading CIEL’s operational excellence journey.

Prior to joining CIEL, Hélène Echevin worked for Eclosia Group where she counts 17 years of experience in strategy, operations and project management, at both company and corporate levels. Hélène Echevin was the first lady President of the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce. She is also a member of the board of CIEL Textile ltd, SUN Ltd.

She holds an engineering degree in Food Technology from Polytech, France and has completed an executive management program at INSEAD.

Brenda Mbathi

Brenda Mbathi

General Electric (GE) East Africa

Brenda Mbathi is the CEO of GE East Africa.  She is responsible for leading GE’s operations within the East African region with a focus on a Company-to-Country approach, demand creation, financing efforts, talent development, risk management, and building a strong GE brand.

In addition to her CEO role, Brenda serves as GE’s Government Affairs & Public Policy Director for East Africa as well as the GE’s Sustainability Director for Africa.

Brenda’s strategic focus on building strong partnerships, localization efforts and accelerating GE’s digital industrial transformation have yielded significant growth outcomes for GE across East Africa.

Brenda has over 30 years of experience in various fields with a recent focus on government affairs & public policy, CSR and general management.

Brenda currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Governors for the MPESA Foundation Academy; a Board Director of the Kenya Private Sector Association (KEPSA); a Governor of the Capital Club; a Trustee of GE Education Trust (South Africa) and leads GE Volunteers across Africa and GE Women’s Network in East Africa.

Prior to joining GE, Brenda was Corporate Affairs Director for East African Breweries Ltd (part of the Diageo group) leading and managing the company’s reputation including stakeholder management; sustainability agenda (leading the EABL foundation); public affairs & communication including investor & media relations.