Former Nigerian president to keynote opening gala at Olin Africa Business Forum Feb. 6-8

Aishetu Dozie, founder and CEO of Bossy Cosmetics, served as a keynote speaker at the 2019 Olin Africa Business Summit. She received the Olin Africa Business Club's Trailblazer Award at the summit.

Olusegun Obasanjo, an economic innovator in Africa and two-time leader of Nigeria, will make his first stop in the Midwest to kick off the third annual Olin Africa Business Forum at Washington University in St. Louis.

Obasanjo, who brought the booming telecommunication industry to Nigeria and chaired the African Union for two years, is planning to speak about investing in Africa’s youth — by 2050, some 25% of the world’s population will be African — and how the Continental Free Trade Agreement can unite, empower and enable a more sustainable Africa. Noted for his foresight, such as launching Nigeria’s first telecom satellite and the telecommunications industry there, Obasanjo has been asked to take a peek around the corner and offer his insight into the economic future of Africa.


He is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. Feb. 6, the first day of the three-day event, in the Assembly Hall at Cortex Innovation Hall, 4220 Duncan Ave. Those interested in attending either or both days are urged to register here.

(Note: The date constitutes a change from the originally scheduled Feb. 7.)

“The former president’s keynote at the opening gala presents an opportunity for WashU students, faculty, staff and alumni to hear from one of Africa’s living pioneers — whose experience spans over 50 years and brings an understanding of the problems and solutions to Africa’s greatest challenges,” said Benjamin Ola. Akande, assistant vice chancellor for international affairs-Africa and associate director of the Global Health Center at Washington University. “I have known the president since my younger days and look forward to welcoming him to WashU and to St. Louis.”

After Obasanjo opens the forum speaking on its theme of “Purpose and Prosperity – Creating Sustainable Impact in Africa,” a full day of panels and discussions unfolds Feb. 8 at Knight Hall’s Emerson Auditorium. Among the panels are:

  • Policy and Leadership: Judd Devermont, director of Africa Program — Center for Strategic & International Studies; David Gilmour, director of the Office of East African Affairs; Hannah Ryder, CEO, Development Reimagined; Tamrat Samuel, assistant secretary general, United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on Africa.
  • Development and Dispute Resolution: Ogechi Harry, associate attorney, Mayer Brown; Kader Hassane, principal investment officer, Africa50; Gyude Moore, former minister of public works, Liberia;  and Candy Ofime, associate attorney, Baker McKenzie;
  • Fintech & Financial Inclusion: Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, co-founder, Andela, Fullterwave and Future Africa;  Yinka Adegoke, editor, Quartz Africa; Mohammed Akuma, financial advisor, EY; and Viola Llewellyn, co-founder and president, Ovamba Solutions.
  • Arts, Media and Culture: Damola Durosomo, senior writer, OkayAfrica; Grace Ladoja, founder and creative director, Metallic Inc.; Laolu Senbanjo, performance and visual artist; and Phiona Okumu, artist and label marketing manager for Africa.

Samuel Achilefu, vice chair of innovation and entrepreneurship at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, among many other duties at the Washington University School of Medicine, is the lunchtime keynote Feb. 8.