Imagine tomorrow. Change today

In 2020, Africa will suffer its first economic recession in 25 years – one that threatens to wipe out nearly 50 million jobs across all sectors. Weakening health systems and giving rise to soaring food insecurity, falling commodity prices and rapidly deteriorating government coffers, the Covid-19 crisis and its shocks have raised the spectre of a dramatic reversal of fortune for a continent that, up until the pandemic struck, had been singled out by the entire investment community as the region with the most promising future.

However, Africa is not the same “hopeless continent” it was 20 years ago. The continent’s companies and private sector are more innovative and dynamic than ever before, while its youth are plugged-in and eager to become full-fledged members of the globalised world. African women have gradually taken on a more significant role than ever before in the economic sphere, winning, with patience and determination, an ever-growing number of decision-making positions. Their role in the continent’s response to the crisis will be decisive.

The third edition of The Summit, the international flagship event of the Women Working for Change (WFC) platform, will bring together more than 300 major African women leaders in November to discuss this year’s theme, Imagine tomorrow, change today.

Due to unprecedented global circumstances, The Summit will be fully online and offer new interactive formats for attendees.

Featuring some of the continent’s most prominent female leaders today, participants will share their vision of the global challenges to come as well as the steps that need to be taken to give women their rightful place in spearheading change. In light of current events, The Summit will particularly focus on the African continent’s economic and health outlook in the aftermath of the present crisis.

Through a varied programme of online sessions (panels, workshops and exclusive meetings), participants will discuss a diverse range of themes:

  • Coming out on top of the crisis: Towards a more sustainable growth model
  • Digital transformation: Recruiting the talent you need
  • Covid crisis: A setback for gender equality
  • Health and training: what type of PPP attracts the private sector?
  • Sisterhood: best practices for female solidarity in the workplace
  • Post-Covid order: which business sectors stand to benefit?

To help participants strengthen their expertise, we have designed an excellence coaching programme which covers topics such as combating cognitive bias, keys to becoming a board member and how to increase your political acumen. These workshops seek to help you release your full potential and open the doors to hypergrowth.

High-level networking opportunities with our audience made up of African women leaders will also be made available to you through fun and innovative formats.

Yoga / Meditation

Welcome address


Conversation with Graça Machel

Graça Machel, former education minister of Mozambique recognised alongside her husband, Nelson Mandela, for her tireless advocacy for children’s rights, will share her vision of women’s leadership with our participants.

Panel | Covid crisis: a setback for gender equality?

Since the start of the health crisis, nearly one-third of companies say they have put their gender strategy on pause. Worse still, experience gleaned from past economic crises has stirred up concerns that women will be deemed expendable in future restructuring plans. Yet, while women’s representation in leadership roles has been flatlining in Africa in recent years, dozens of studies have shown that with greater gender diversity comes higher profits. Should we be concerned about a reversal of fortune for Africa’s women leaders? What roadblocks remain that prevent women from taking their rightful place?


Key points

  • ‘Last in, first out’ and other short-term strategies: will women leaders end up being collateral victims of the crisis?
  • Workplace diversity: what is behind the glass ceiling effect observed in Africa over the last few years?
  • Lobbying, awareness raising and public policy: what strategies should be adopted to help women leaders have a seat at the table in the post-Covid order?


Conversation with Rania A. Al-Mashat

Becoming the youngest-ever minister in Egypt when she was appointed Minister of Tourism in January 2018, the former Adviser to the Chief Economist of the IMF has had a meteoric career. Currently serving as Minister of International Cooperation, this dedicated girls’ education activist will share her vision of the role of African women in the 21st century.

Panel | Post-Covid order: which business sectors stand to benefit?

During the first three months of the Covid crisis, hotel reservations plummeted 63% while demand for ICT services increased by just as much. The short-term winners and losers during this period of turmoil are readily apparent, with the digital technology and health sectors boosted by the crisis, while the tourism, aviation and events sectors are reeling. But what about the medium-term outlook? And how can these types of changes be anticipated?


Key points

  • Covid crisis: will today’s winners keep winning tomorrow?
  • What lessons can Africa learn?
  • Women leaders: is now the time to retrain?


  • Sérgio Pimenta

    Vice President, Middle East and Africa, IFC

  • Rim Bennani

    Chairman's Office, OCP Group

  • Laureen Kouassi-Olsson

    Non Executive Director, Orange Abidjan Participations & Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited

  • Ngozi Edozien

    Managing director and Founder, InVivo Partners ; Non executive Director StanbicIBTC Holdings and Diageo Nigeria

Roundtable 1 | Digital transformation: recruiting the talent you need

According to 81% of African leaders, digital transformation will be an essential component of their strategy in 2021. For their efforts to be successful, companies will need to recruit one or more additional employees in an extremely competitive environment where senior-level candidates are rare and many African countries struggle to produce an adequate number of graduates specialising in this area. Where and how can your company find the digital talent it needs, and how can you attract such talent? High-level executives share their experience in this area.


Key points


  • Find and win over the appropriate talent for your digital transformation
  • Bridging the skills gap: should you consider training talent from within?
  • How can you succeed in having a 50% female digital workforce?


Workshop | How to instil a culture of feedback to build a learning organisation

Giving feedback and constructive criticism on the work of your employees is an essential part of being a leader, as it improves team performance. However, this exercise can be challenging if not counterproductive if it isn’t thought out and/or carried out in a way that is understood, accepted and beneficial where employees are concerned. This workshop, led by a business executive coaching professional, will provide you with the keys to instilling a genuine “culture of feedback” at your company and teach you how to give feedback in a way that is rewarding for everyone.

Workshop | Keys to intercultural communication

As a leader, you meet, negotiate with and give instructions to people with widely different backgrounds, whether they are from various countries in Africa or outside the continent. These encounters can have a certain number of pitfalls due to cultural differences between parties. How can you avoid making a faux-pas in these types of situations? What are our own cultural biases? With the help of a CEO who has worked in more than 10 countries throughout her career and an expert in intercultural issues, this workshop will help introduce you to these issues and put you in a position to resolve them.

  • Facilitator

    Amal Hihi

    Chief Executive Officer, Shine Group

  • Expert

    Ariella Ji

    Chief Financial Officer, Huawei Northern Africa

Women and climate change

Women and men aren’t equal in the face of climate change, especially in Africa. More economically vulnerable and more dependent on natural resources, particularly because they are overrepresented in agriculture, African women could end up paying the highest price as future climate disruptions play out. Led by two speakers, Wanjira Maathai and Alexandra Palt, at the forefront of these issues, this panel seeks to examine climate challenges from a female perspective.


Panel | How to maximise the private sector’s growing interest in health and training?

Sub-Saharan Africa has on average one physician and one engineer per 10,000 residents, compared to 20 physicians and 50 engineers per 10,000 residents in China. To address the challenges of a post-Covid world in which the health of citizens and training of young people will be central to economic success, Africa cannot solely rely on state-backed programmes. Today as we speak, major diversified groups in Africa are seeking to reallocate their investments in sectors with a promising future. What role can the state and the private sector play, respectively, to get health and education out of the rut? What are some examples of tried-and-true public-private partnerships in these sectors on the continent?


Key points

  • Hospitals, health centres, universities and training centres: what role can the private sector play?
  • Health and education: does the future belong to regional centres of excellence?
  • How can women capitalise on the professions in which they are traditionally well represented?


  • Amina Bouzguenda

    Managing Director, Université Paris-Dauphine Tunis

  • Agnes Binagwaho

    Vice-Chancellor, University of Global Health Equity

  • Laura Kakon

    Chief Growth & Strategy Officer, Honoris United Universities

  • Folake Odediran

    General Manager General Medicines and Country Lead for Nigeria and Ghana, Sanofi

The pursuit of gender equality

Following the launch of the Women Working for Change initiative’s Gender Diversity Charter in September 2019, our ambition is to encourage Africa’s leading companies to incorporate practices promoting gender equality in the workplace. Signatories of the charter commit to applying its four key principles: diversity in hiring, equal pay, creating a balanced management team and executive committee, and creating a balanced board of directors. This session, developed in partnership with Deloitte, serves as the annual status report on the progress of this ambition and presents new data on the representation of women in Africa’s private sector and the actions undertaken to achieve gender equality.

  • Moderator

    Emna Kharouf

    Managing Partner, Deloitte Consulting Afrique


Workshop | Cognitive bias: leadership’s worst enemy

We make some of our decisions by a process of associating reflexive ideas. While they enable us to reach decisions quickly, these shortcuts are conditioned by biases that are not always relevant. Known as “cognitive biases”, these phenomena distort our ability to make “the” best decision. This workshop aims to help you understand and deconstruct different biases (reasoning, judgement and attentional), and in turn improve your leadership skills.

Workshop | Get African women on board

Bridging the gender gap in boardrooms is not simply a matter of social justice. Studies have consistently shown the direct correlation between increased gender representation on corporate boards and improved financial performance. “Get African Women on Board” is the first certified training designed specifically for top women executives to reinforce their boardroom expertise. Participate in this tailored workshop to acquire the tools for board-qualification, and understand the responsibilities that define the role.

Workshop | Social networks: increasing your impact/controlling your image

Social networks have now become a major component of the image you want to project of your company and yourself to the outside world. They are often underused by women leaders to communicate, impact their environment or lay the groundwork for their future ambition. This workshop, moderated by a social media influencer in tandem with a business leader who will share her experiences and stories in this area, will help you become better acquainted with the do’s and don’ts of your favourite social networks.

  • Expert

    Nabou Fall

    Chief Executive Officer, Vizeo

  • Speaker

    Naïma Issawi

    Director of performance management and network, Rawbank

Roundtable 2 | Sisterhood: best practices for female solidarity in the workplace

As of 2020, none of Africa’s 50 largest companies is female-led. Despite progress made in the last 20 years, many obstacles and a certain amount of reluctance persist. Undertaking diversity-focused policies cannot alone remedy the situation. However, a strategy of women helping women, company-by-company has transformational potential and is currently underused.  In this interactive session, women specialising in sisterhood and those practising it share their methods as well as the failures and successes they have encountered in their search to achieve this ambition.


Panel | Coming out on top of the crisis: towards a more sustainable growth model

By 2100, average temperatures in Africa will rise by 1°C to 4°C, while episodes of flooding and drought are set to become more commonplace. Over the same period, Africa’s population is expected to nearly triple in size. With companies looking to reinvent themselves and find new business models, isn’t it time to build back better? Can Africa’s private sector make a substantial shift towards sustainable growth by focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building resilience to climate change, preserving biodiversity and developing the circular economy?


Key points

  • Covid crisis: a threat to climate change awareness or an opportunity to build back better?
  • Adaptation: is Africa’s private sector prepared for greater climate disruption?
  • Financing, regulatory easing, human resources: what do African businesses need to change their growth model?


Business case | How to implement circular economy in your company

Several years ago, The Coca-Cola Company launched an ambitious circular economy programme in Africa, with a focus on Nigeria, aimed at recycling plastic at all of its sites and getting suppliers and customers on board to do the same. During this business case session, you will learn how such a programme is implemented in practice in a large company, what the different challenges are and how to approach them.

  • Speaker

    Clem Ugorji

    VP Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability, Coca-Cola West Africa

Conversation with James Mwangi

The personal story and success of James Mwangi, one of our continent’s most prominent CEOs, is intrinsically linked to women. He agreed to share his story with us, what it meant for his commitment to gender equality but also how he envisions the role of men in these efforts.

Closing remarks

Closing networking