Keynote Speakers

Meaza Ashenafi

Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia

Meaza Ashenafi, born in 1965 in Ethiopia, is an accomplished Ethiopian public personality, well known nationally and internationally for her contributions in the field of law, especially regarding legal protection of women; in the promotion of human rights; advocacy on violence against women; in institution and partnership building; in financial mediation in favor of women; and in resource mobilization for various aspects of development. Her formal education includes degrees in law, international relations and gender studies from reputable institutions such as Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia) and the University of Connecticut (USA).

She is recently appointed as the first female Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia. She was a high court judge between 1989 and 1992. In 1995, she founded the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA) and was its Executive Directress for eight years. As the Directress of EWLA she was dedicated to vocalizing the needs of misfortunate women under the social and economic structures. She contributed for the revision of the Federal Family Law, Criminal Law which once have had provisions against women’s rights. Even after she left she continued using her extensive legal background to lobby for the promotion and respect of women’s right. With the cause close to her heart, she co-founded Enat Bank, the first women’s Bank which targets at economic empowerment of women, while providing all clients with exemplary services. She chaired the Bank’s Board of Directors for four years besides her Gender Advisor role at the UN Economic Commission for Africa.


Ismail Ahmed

Founder and Executive Chairman, WorldRemit

Ismail Ahmed is the Founder and Executive Chairman of WorldRemit, the leading digital money transfer company that’s pioneering a mobile approach to sending money around the world. Ismail founded the company in 2010. Since then, it has secured over $220 million in funding, backed by Accel, TCV and LeapFrog, and has been named the fastest growing technology company in the UK.

Serving previously as a compliance adviser to the United Nations, Ismail founded the company on the principles of strong compliance procedures, recognising that the only way to meaningfully reduce the risks in the money transfer industry was to bring the entire process into the digital world. Ismail has been named one of the top ten most influential black Britons in the UK and won EY Entrepreneur of the Year, London and South.

Originally from Somaliland, he has worked with the UN in Nairobi and Dubai. He has a PhD from the University of London and an MBA from London Business School


Alcinda Honwana

Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics

Alcinda Honwana is a Centennial Professor at LSE based in the Firoz Lalji centre for Africa and the Department of International Development. She is also a Visiting Professor of Anthropology and International Development at the Open University, where she held a Chair in International Development. Professor Honwana has been an Inter-regional Adviser on social development policy at the United Nations and a Program Director at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) in New York. She taught anthropology at the New School of Social Research in New York and at the University of Cape Town. Alcinda Honwana has carried out extensive research on political conflict and politics of culture; on the impact of war on children, youth and women as well as on youth politics, social movements and political protest. Her most recent books include Youth and Revolution in Tunisia (2013) and The Time of Youth: Work, Social Change and Politics in Africa (2012).

Professor Honwana held the Prince Claus Chair for Development and Equity in Netherlands and delivered the 100th Kapuscinski Development Lecture at the University of Maastricht. She is the Chair of the International African Institute (IAI) and an Editor of the African Arguments Book Series.