Conference Keynote Speakers

Ms Vera Songwe

Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

Vera Songwe assumed her position as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on 3 August 2017 following her appointment by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

She brings to UNECA and the position of Executive Secretary a long-standing track record of providing policy advice on development and a wealth of experience in delivering development results for Africa, as well as a demonstrated strong and clear strategic vision for the continent.

Until recently, she was Regional Director of the International Finance Corporation, covering West and Central Africa. In addition, she continues to serve as a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative. She is also a member of the African Union institutional reform team under the direction of the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, and a board member of the African Leadership Network and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

Previously, she was Country Director for the World Bank, covering Cape Verde, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania and Senegal. She was also Adviser to the Managing Director of the World Bank for Africa, Europe and Central and South Asia and a lead Country Sector Coordinator for the organization. She had earlier served as the World Bank’s Senior Economist in the Philippines.

Prior to joining the World Bank, she was a Visiting Researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota and at the University of Southern California.

She holds a PhD in Mathematical Economics from the Center for Operations Research and Econometrics and a Master of Arts in Law and Economics and a Diplôme d’études approfondies in Economic Science and Politics from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. She also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Michigan. She is also a graduate of Our Lady of Lourdes College in Cameroon and has published widely on development and economic issues.

Smail Douiri

Co-CEO, Attijariwafa Bank

Ismail Douiri is co-CEO of Attijariwafa bank, a regional financial institution based in Casablanca Morocco and serving 6.8 million clients in 23 countries in North, West and Central Africa, as well as Western Europe. He joined Attijariwafa bank in 2004 as VP of strategy and was promoted in 2005 to deputy general manager. In 2008, he was appointed by the board of directors as co-CEO.

Mr Douiri started his professional career with Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Baltimore, Maryland, then joined Casablanca Finance Group, a boutique investment bank based in Morocco. After getting his MBA, he worked for Morgan Stanley in London, for McKinsey & Co. in the North Africa Initiative, and founded a mobile internet start-up. He is a director of most subsidiaries of Attijariwafa bank in North, West and Central Africa, and chairman of Care International Maroc, the Moroccan chapter of Care International.

In 2010, Mr Douiri was named Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He holds two engineering degrees from Ecole Polytechnique and Ecole Nationale Supérieuredes Télécommunications (both in Paris) and an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School where he was a Fulbright scholarship grantee.