The Future of Development: Which Way for Africa?

UNDP Assistant Secretary-General Ahunna Eziakonwa to speak at Freie Universität Berlin about growth opportunities and challenges on the African continent

Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa, will be giving a lecture at Freie Universität Berlin on Wednesday, January 24, 2024, at 6:00 p.m. Her talk on the future of Africa will focus on the impacts of the climate crisis as well as other important topics. The lecture "The Future of Development: Which Way for Africa?" will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Ahunna Eziakonwa, Melanie Hauenstein, the new Director of the UNDP Germany Representation Office, and Professor Anja Osei, Head of the Center for Politics and Society in Africa at the Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science, Freie Universität Berlin. The discussion will then be opened up to the audience with a Q&A session. Dr. Herbert Grieshop (Director of the International Office, Freie Universität Berlin) will be moderating the event, which will be held in English and is open to the public. Prior registration is not required.

The lecture is one of many events on the agenda for the Assistant Secretary-General of the UN Development Programme’s visit to Germany, which will also include high-level talks with key figures from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ) and the German Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt). At Freie Universität Berlin, Ahunna Eziakonwa will shed light on the vast range of possibilities and growth opportunities on the African continent and contrast them with the current challenges it faces. In her presentation she will specifically address Africa’s structural economic change, better approaches to managing natural resources, and issues related to the climate, energy, gender equality, as well as peace and security. The UNDP Assistant Secretary-General will also speak about the global loss of biodiversity, a particularly fitting topic given that 2024 is Freie Universität Berlin’s "Year of Biodiversity."

The aim of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is to promote sustainable development, reduce poverty, and improve living standards worldwide.

Ahunna Eziakonwa was appointed Assistant Administrator of the UNDP and Regional Director for Africa by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in 2018. With over twenty years of experience in the United Nations, she leads a team of more than 4,000 people implementing an annual development program of 1.2 billion dollars in forty-six African countries. Her work focuses on equality, inclusion, and reshaping narratives about Africa. She is also currently laying the groundwork for "Africa’s Promise: The UNDP Renewed Strategic Offer in Africa," a plan to promote opportunities for sustainable development in Africa.

Eziakonwa has already launched several pioneering initiatives such as the "Africa Influencers for Development" (AI4D), the "Africa Young Women Leaders Initiative," and the "Africa Innovates Magazine." She also led the UNDP program to stabilize Africa after the Covid-19 pandemic and is vice-chair of the UN Africa Regional Collaborative Platform.

Prior to joining the United Nations, Eziakonwa worked for Initiatives of Change, where she was the international coordinator of the Creators of Peace - Women’s Initiative. She is a graduate of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and participated in the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Program. She received her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Benin in Nigeria.

Melanie Hauenstein has been the Director of the UNDP Representation Office in Germany since the start of the year. She previously held numerous senior positions within the UNDP, most recently as resident representative in Lebanon. Prior to this, she worked as a regional advisor at the UNDP’s New York Office for Arab States, with a particular focus on Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Libya, and the Maghreb.

She also participated in numerous UN peacekeeping and stabilization missions for several years, especially in Africa. As the current highest-ranking UNDP representative in Germany, she brings extensive expertise to a wide range of current (development) policy issues, for example, in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, due to her comprehensive field experience.

She holds an MSc in population and development from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and studied international politics, sociology, and economics in Regensburg, Leipzig, and Paris. She is fluent in English, French, and Spanish.

Joint Press Release of Freie Universität Berlin and the UNDP Germany Representation Office

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