African Diaspora Network Impact and Innovation Speaker Series:

Partnerships and Policies for Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Investment

September 17, 2019 | Washington D.C.

African Diaspora Network welcomes you to our second annual convening in Washington D.C. in partnership with the UN Migration Agency – the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This in-depth conversation features entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, and other public and private partners with the goal of contributing to empower communities in Africa and support relevant stakeholders towards a common vision of achieving self-reliance and prosperity for all. Together, we will address issues imperative to our communities, addressing U.S. policies toward Africa on investment, innovation, entrepreneurship, trade, and the role that Africans in the Diaspora have within these areas.


8:15 am -8:45 am

Registration and Check-In (Symantec Offices)
Participants’ arrival and check in to the event at the registration table to receive their nametag and agenda. Light breakfast, coffee/tea, and snacks will be available.

Session I

8:45 am - 9:15

Welcome, Introductions, and Keynote Address

  • Welcome on behalf of the ADN and organizing partners (10 minutes)

  • Introduction to the event agenda, goals, and objectives (5 minutes)

  • Keynote address (15 minutes): ADN and partners can identify/invite the keynote speaker

Session II

9:15 am - 10:30 am

Panel 1:  Engaging the African and Middle Eastern Diaspora: Gaps, Challenges, and Opportunities 

Panel (3-4 speakers, ~8 minute each) followed by a moderated audience Q&A

The opening session frames our thematic discussion on partnerships and policies. Examine key questions and issues around diaspora engagement by identifying existing gaps and challenges, as well as some potential opportunities for more effective engagement. Join us to explore the general landscape of diaspora engagement, define our diasporic context, and set the contours of the issue that we will further explore throughout the day.

Moderator: Alex Farley, Program Associate, Wilson Center


Fadi Samara, Vice President, Jordanian American Diaspora Assoc of D.C.

Mariem Malouche, Senior Economist, World Bank

Almaz Negash, Founder & Executive Director, African Diaspora Network 

Mr. Nii Akuetteh,  Founding Executive Director, African Immigrant Caucus

Coffee & Tea Break

10:30 am - 10:45 am


Session III

10:45 am - 12:00 

Panel 2: Tapping into the Diaspora’s Potential: Policies, Knowledge Exchange, and Technology Innovations 

Hone in on key areas for engagement vis-à-vis conducive policies, economic engagement, and technology. Seasoned experts and participants will identify and discuss methods of engagement and important innovations for enhancing relationships with the diaspora as well as policies to facilitate those innovations.

Moderator: Roberta Romano, IOM

Panelists: Ronit Avni, CEO Localized | Menna Demessie, Secretary of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund (EDTF) Council | Mike Zeleke is the CFO and Chief Compliance Officer, Paykii

Networking Lunch

12:00 pm - 13:15 


Afternoon Topical Sessions

13:15 - 18:00 

Panel Discussion: Prosper Africa - Trade and Investment Opportunities in Africa

Africa is a growing global marketplace, with trade and investment opportunities soaring as Africa became home to six of the ten fastest growing economies in 2018. By 2025, spending by African consumers and business will rise to an expected $5.6 trillion. What enterprise-driven solutions can be applied to promote growth and access to buyers and suppliers? This discussion examines possible approaches for economic growth in developing

sustainable partnerships between the U.S. and Africa, including a look at Prosper Africa’s trade and investment opportunities.

Moderator: Yohannes Assefa, Director of Agriculture and Agribusiness at the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment

Panelists: Irving Williamson, Former USITC Commissioner and USTR Deputy General Counsel | Amanda MacArthur, Chief Program Officer, PYXERA Global


14:35 - 15:50

Panel Discussion: Unlocking Africa’s Energy Sector Potential 

Two out of three people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity. USAID launched Power Africa in 2013 to increase the number of people with access to power through partnerships among technical and legal experts, the private sector, and government. This session dives into how partnership can be leveraged to achieve Power Africa’s goal of adding more than 30,000 megawatts (MW) of cleaner, more efficient electricity generation capacity and 60 million new home and business connections.

Moderator: Gillian Marcelle, Ph.D.,Resilience Capital Ventures LLC

Panelists: Andrew M. Herscowitz, Coordinator for Power  | Jay Patel, CEO, Enlight Uganda


15:55 - 17:10 

Africa Feeding Africa: Transforming Africa’s Agriculture Sector through Private and Public Partnerships  

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the agriculture sector provided 70% of Africa’s total food requirements and comprised over 60% of the total labor force in 2018. How do we tap into this potential to keep production on pace with consumption? This panel explores the importance of the agricultural sector in Africa, streamlining partnerships for imports and exports, and ways of tapping into the continent’s agricultural potential and abundance in natural resources such as land, livestock, and agricultural value chains. 

Moderator: Nicholas Bassey, USAID

Panelists: Patricia Sheikh, Roots of Peace | Kristin Wells, Independent Consultant | Jamila White, MercyCorps | Michael Griffin, Ashanti Produce

Fireside Chat

17:15 - 17:45

Creating Public-Private Partnerships in Africa.

Summary and Next Steps


Moderators will summarize and discuss next steps and action items to develop 2-3 actionable items based on audience suggestions.

Reception and Networking

18:00 - 19:00 

Reception and Networking

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