The following persons will be a part of the Annual Conference of Swiss Development Cooperation 2018 through round tables or keynote speeches.

Welcome address

Manuel Sager, Ambassador, SDC Director General

Manuel Sager
Manuel Sager © SDC

Manuel Sager, born in 1955, obtained a doctorate in law from the University of Zurich and subsequently a Master of Laws and Letters (LL.M.) from Duke University Law School. He joined the diplomatic service in 1988 and held various positions at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. In 2005 he became an executive director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London and was subsequently Swiss ambassador to the United States from 2010 to 2014. Manuel Sager has been director-general of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) since November 2014.

Opening speech

Ignazio Cassis, Federal Councillor, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA)

Ignazio Cassis
Ignazio Cassis © Beat Mumenthaler

Ignazio Cassis was born in 1961. In 1987 he earned a degree in medicine from the University of Zurich. In 1996 he obtained a post-graduate diploma in public health from the University of Geneva. In 1998 he completed specialist training in general medicine and in prevention and public health. He practised medicine between 1988 and 1996. Between 1996 and 2008 he served as the Canton of Ticino’s Chief Health Officer. Between 2008 and 2012 he was vice president of the Swiss Medical Association. He has lectured at various universities in Switzerland. Ignazio Cassis was elected to the National Council as a member of the FDP for the canton of Ticino in 2007. From 2015 until his election to the Federal Council he was president of the FDP-Liberal parliamentary group. He was also chair of the National Council Social Security and Health Committee from 2015. Ignazio Cassis is married.

Panel discussion

Better returns, better opportunities: Supporting the seed sector in Chad

Mansour N'Diaye, Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Chad

Mansour N‘Diaye
© Mansour N‘Diaye

Dr Mohamadou Mansour N’Diaye comes from Senegal. He has a master’s degree in economic and social administration, and holds a diploma of advanced studies as well as a doctorate in environmental economics and regional planning from Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne.

In 1993 Mr N’Diaye started his career as an advisor at the OECD in Paris. In 1994 he started working in Geneva for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), later taking up another UNCCD post in Bonn. Since 2015 Mohamadou Mansour N’Diaye has been working for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) which includes representing the FAO in Chad.

Dominique Guenat, Professor at the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL), Zollikofen 

Dominique Guenat
© Dominique Guenat

Dominique Vincent Guenat was born in 1958 in Biel/Bienne. He completed his studies in agricultural science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich in 1983. In 1984 he took up his first international mission in Bhutan working for Helvetas, where he completed his masters in the field of agriculture in 1991. In 1990 Guenat co-founded ACADE, a company providing support and advice in the areas of agriculture, development and the environment. Since 1997 he has been a professor in agricultural science at the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL), where he took over as head of the international agriculture specialisation in 2010.

Pierre-André Page, Member of the National Council FR

Pierre-André Page Member of the National Council FR
© Pierre-André Page

Pierre-André Page (b. 1960) completed an agricultural apprenticeship in the canton of Solothurn and obtained a federal VET diploma from the Agricultural Institute Grangeneuve in the canton of Fribourg. A federally certified master farmer since 1986, Pierre-André Page runs a farm in the commune of Châtonnaye, Fribourg. From 1991 to 2006, he was a member of the Communal Council of Fribourg and since 1996 he has been a member of the Cantonal Parliament. In 2015 he was elected to the National Council as a representative of the Swiss People's Party.

Mariane Nguerassem, Farmer from Chad

Mariane Nguerassem, Farmer from Chad
© Mariane Nguerassem

Mariane Nguerassem was born in 1962 in Fort-Archambault (today's Sarh) in Chad. She has two children and is a farmer and seed producer. Since 1993 she has taken continuing education and training courses on topics such as literacy, women's rights, good governance, citizen participation and processing techniques for local products. In her spare time, she likes to read, play football and keep up with current events.

Keynote speech

Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

Gilbert F. Houngbo
© Gilbert F. Houngbo

Gilbert F. Houngbo became the sixth President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on 1 April 2017. He was born and raised in rural Togo. Prior to his current appointment, he was the Deputy Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), where he managed bilateral and multilateral partnerships. From 2008 to 2012, he served as Prime Minister of the Togolese Republic, where he introduced economic reforms and enhanced the rule of law and civil liberties. From 1996 to 2008, he undertook a number of roles at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), including Chief of Staff, Assistant Secretary-General and Africa Regional Director. Before this, he spent a decade in the private sector. Mr. Houngbo has a “Maitrîse en gestion des entreprises” from the University of Lomé, Togo, and a “Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures Spécialisées” in Specialised Accounting from the University of Quebec, Canada.

Panel discussion

Innovative approaches to urban challenges: South Africa, Switzerland and the World Bank team up

Davorka Shepherd, Head of Economic Cooperation and Development SECO, Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa 

Davorka Shepherd
© Davorka Shepherd

Davorka Shepherd grew up in Lugano and studied international relations in Geneva. She has been responsible for economic development organisations and development organisations in emerging countries for over 15 years. In 2001 Shepherd began working for SECO; in 2006 she moved to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Johannesburg and in 2009 she left for the IFC’s Risk Management Programme in Washington D.C.

Since 2015, Shepherd has been implementing SECO strategies in South Africa in her current position in Pretoria. She lives in Johannesburg with her husband and son.

Andrea Heinzer, Head of Investments at SIFEM, the development finance institution of the Swiss Confederation 

Andrea Heinzer
© Andrea Heinzer

Andrea Heinzer grew up in the canton of Uri and studied history, international relations and media science in Zurich. After completing her studies, she was responsible for a Swiss National Science Foundation research project on security policy at the Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich. Heinzer then went on to work for SECO.

Since 2006 she has worked with the Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets (SIFEM). She was initially responsible for investment in southern Africa and in 2013 took over as head of the SIFEM investment team, which handles investment in Asia, Central Asia and Latin America. Heinzer also enjoys travelling to Africa outside of her professional activities.

Malijeng Ngqaleni, Head Intergovernmental Relations, National Treasury, South Africa 

Malijeng Ngqaleni
© Malijeng Ngqaleni

Malijeng Ngqaleni is the Deputy Director-General:  Intergovernmental Relations at the National Treasury, responsible for the coordination of fiscal and financial relations between national, provincial and local government. 

She has served in the National Treasury since 1998 and led various policy and capacity building initiatives to improve the effectiveness of public infrastructure investment programmes.  Prior to this she worked at the Department of Land Affairs, and lectured at two Universities (Agricultural Economics/ Economics). She holds a MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Saskatchewan (Canada).

Sithole Mbanga, CEO of the South African Cities Network

Sithole Mbanga
© Sithole Mbanga

Sithole Mbanga has been with the South African Cities Network (SACN) since 2002. He has helped steadily grow the influence and contributions of the SACN to improving urban governance practice and analysis. Sithole Mbanga was previously the Local Government Coordinator at the National Business Initiative (NBI), was involved with conducting capacity building training in Municipal Service Partnership (MSP), and participated in the development of the then National Department of Local Government’s (DPLG) national policy on Integrated Development Planning (IDP).

He has advised municipal and party leadership and contributed to various Boards and to strategic processes in various sectors (cooperative governance, human settlements, The Presidency).

Concluding remarks

Manuel Sager, Ambassador, SDC Director General

Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, State Secretary, SECO Director

Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch
Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch © SECO

Born in 1961, Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch holds an MBA and a degree in law. She has held multiple positions in Switzerland and abroad, including assistant to Switzerland’s executive director at the World Bank in Washington DC from 1992 to 1993, and head of the WTO sector from 1999 to 2007. In April 2011 she was appointed state secretary and SECO director. She is also the director of the Foreign Economic Affairs Directorate.