African leaders from across Africa and beyond to take centre stage at the World Humanitarian Forum in London Forum to focus on addressing Sustainable Development Goals, moving from Aid to Trade on April 15th and 16th 2020.

Inspiring leaders include: First Lady of Sierra Leone Fatima Bio, African Union youth envoy Aya Chebbi, Global Teacher Prize winner Peter Tabichi, Philanthropist Cinzia Akbaraly and Education Cannot Wait Director Yasmine Sherif, alongside ministers and policymakers.

They will address development challenges, especially in meeting the SDGs, education, youth and women empowerment.

The Forum is pushing for a shift from aid to trade, from hope to reality. It also highlights that to achieve our SDGs we must empower women and girls.

Speaking about the focus on Africa in this year’s WHF, CEO Feraye Ozfescioglu said, “Despite progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, Africa continues to lag behind most of the world when it comes to socioeconomic development.

More than half of the global poor (those who earn under $1.90 PPP per day) are found in Africa. One in three Africans is at the risk of food insecurity. To address this we need to work on various fronts including poverty alleviation, empowerment of women, food security, youth empowerment and implementing sustainable development goals.”

Speaking about her campaign ‘Hands off our girls’ to WHFTalks, First Lady Fatima Bio said, “Everyone deserves an enabling environment to be all they can be.

I believe in development, and I believe that women are integral to achieving sustainable development. I saw how women were key in rebuilding Sierra Leone after 10 years of civil war. Our women in Sierra Leone are resilient, and with the right enabling environment, they will make Sierra Leone great.”

She also doesn’t hold back from pointing out the challenges of working with NGOs, “I cannot emphasise this point enough, you have to know members of the community, interact with them and develop programmes based on findings gathered from the core stakeholders.

Part of the issues I have with some NGOs is, they erroneously believe that “Stakeholders” are the parties that provide the money.

I personally believe the people directly impacted by these programmes are the core stakeholders.
We have NGOs in my country that have adopted the community-based approach to developing programmes.

These programmes have more impact and also respect people. These programmes are geared towards positive long-term change, and not criminalising the populace. UNFPA is one of the organisations I am working with and very happy with their modus operandi.”

Educating every child is a necessary step if we want to meet our SDG goals, adds Ozfescioglu. “The education challenge that Africa is facing is huge. We are bringing together role models such as Global Teacher Prize winner Peter Tabichi, and experts in the field like educationist Vikas Pota and Alexander Douglas who do tremendous work in education to interact and share ideas.”

Meanwhile, AU Youth Envoy, Aya Chebi, will highlight the importance of giving young people a seat at the top table, as they bring new perspectives, ideas and challenge conventional thinking.

Other influential speakers and role models from Africa addressing the Forum include HE Sam Sumana, Former Vice President of Sierra Leone; Emmanuel Katongole, CEO, CIPLA Affordable Healthcare; and Minister Sayeed Hamza, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and disaster management, Somalia.

The event portfolio is expected to attract more than 5,000 global public and private sector officials from over 50 countries. It will also showcase the latest technologies, including drones, that aid the humanitarian work and will have special focus on finance, new partnership models, food security and disaster management in Africa.

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