Event Details

At this Corporate Network session the EIU's latest global forecast will be shared. Particular emphasis will be placed on unpacking the economic and political outlook for the Sub Saharan Africa region. Covid-19, obviously, remains one of the large elephants in the room. As richer nations secure more than enough doses of vaccines for their populations to achieve herd immunity, we'll explore the efforts, progress and outlook for African countries to sufficiently vaccinate their citizens. In addition, Ipsos will share insights from their latest party-political polling survey and the potential implications for the outcome of South Africa's upcoming municipal polls.


  • Simon Baptist (Global Chief Economist & Editorial Director of The Economist Intelligence Unit)

    Simon Baptist

    Global Chief Economist & Editorial Director of The Economist Intelligence Unit

    Simon Baptist is Editorial Director and Chief Economist at The Economist Intelligence Unit. Prior to his current role, he has held a number of other senior management and editorial positions in the business, including Managing Director for Asia, Regional Director of our Asia editorial team, Director of Global Forecasting, and Consulting Director in both Europe and Asia

    Simon’s focus is on the global economy, national and international political developments, and public policy. He engages with business, government and international organisations, helping them to understand the operational and strategic implications of the EIU’s forecasts.

    He has a doctorate in economics from and was a lecturer at Oxford University, along with degrees in economics and science from the University of Tasmania. His academic research investigated technology and the determinants of productivity in manufacturing firms.

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  • Herman Warren (Network Director, Africa of The Economist Corporate Network)

    Herman Warren

    Network Director, Africa of The Economist Corporate Network


    Herman Warren is The Economist Corporate Network’s Network Director for Africa. Herman works with corporate clients to provide insight and analysis on a range of topics related to the broad and specific African context, helping clients to prosper in one of the world's fastest growing and most dynamic economic zones. He regularly chairs and moderates events and delivers custom briefings to senior executives. Herman is the author of a number of white papers on infrastructure, financial and commercial developments in the region. Herman has previously worked as a management consultant with Bain & Company, started and run a successful mobile technology company and has held senior posts in both public- and private-sector corporations. Herman holds a BBA degree in Finance from Howard University.

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  • Dr Somadoda Fikeni (Director of Special Projects at University of South Africa)

    Dr Somadoda Fikeni

    Director of Special Projects at University of South Africa

    Dr. Somadoda Fikeni is one of South Africa’s most recognised figures among political and social commentators. He is engaged widely by local, national, Continental and global media. These include the BBC, Al Jazeera, Turkish Global TV as well as various German, American and Australian media. He also works with local community print, broadcast and online media in South Africa. He is an author, researcher, public speaker and commentator in the areas of policy analysis, comparative politics, research methodology, international politics, political economy and heritage. Dr. Fikeni received the most votes as the best political analyst in an SAfm-organised survey hosted by the highly-respected media personality, Ashraf Garda. This recognition was repeated in 2017 when he was again named the best political analyst in a much publicised programme based on public voting and opinion. He now dedicates more time to identifying young talent, mentoring and introducing these to the mainstream media. Educationally, Dr. Somadoda Fikeni acquired his BA and BA honours in politics and social sciences from the then University of Transkei (now Walter Sisulu University). He also studied peace and political studies programme at McMaster University in Canada, obtained his MA in International Politics and Comparative Development at Queens University, also in Canada. He went on to obtain his Doctoral Studies or PhD in Comparative Politics and Public Policy Analysis at Michigan State University in the USA. Professionally, he has lectured in a number of universities in SA and at Michigan State University. He also worked as a researcher at the Namibian Institute for Social and Economic Research. He has held various management and leadership positions which include being the merger manager at the University of Transkei and founding COO and Heritage Manager for the National Heritage Council of South Africa (NHC). He has chaired various national, provincial and local boards, councils, task teams, projects and institutions, namely, Walter Sisulu University (WSU) Council, Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), South African Forestry Company Limited (SAFCOL), the Eminent Persons Group for Sports Transformation (EPG), Independent Development Trust (IDT) and Artscape. He was a member of the Brics Think Tank, a member of the inaugural South African Council for International Relations and was also appointed to serve in numerous national and international task teams and commissions of inquiry; these include having been an election observer in East Timor, South East Asia, in 2007. He is currently serving in the Department of Arts and Culture Task Team for Transformation of the Heritage Sector in South Africa as well as one for Review of the Arts, Culture and the Heritage White Paper policy document. In addition he is a director of VC Special Projects and an advisor to the VC/Principal of the University of South Africa, the largest African university and one of few mega universities in the world. As a student leader he was involved in the anti-apartheid political struggle and was detained five times. He was also involved with the Canadian anti-apartheid movement while studying there. Dr. Fikeni was born at Mount Ayliff (MaXesibeni) and he hails from Lugelweni village in the Alfred Nzo District of the Eastern Cape.

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  • Mari Harris (Director and Political Analyst of Ipsos)

    Mari Harris

    Director and Political Analyst of Ipsos

    Mari Harris is a Director at Ipsos and Political Analyst. She has headed up our Election polling for 30 years. In 2016, Mari won
    Diamond Award for outstanding political polling on the African continent. She studied Communication Studies and International Politics at the University of Potchefstroom and graduated with degrees in both fields (BA Communication Studies, BA (Hons) International Politics and MA International Politics). She completed the Marketing Management course at the University of the Witwatersrand in July 1989. She worked as a researcher at the Institute for Political and Africa Studies at the University of Potchefstroom for four years before joining Strategic Concepts (Pty) Ltd, a socio-economic and political consultancy, in April 1986. Mari joined Markinor in January 1989 as a Senior Research Executive and was promoted to Account Director in December 1992 and Director in January 1997. She is a member of SAMRA (Southern African Marketing Research Association), WAPOR (World Association for Public Opinion Research) and ESOMAR
    (European Society of Opinion and Marketing Research). She has presented numerous papers at national and international conferences, with the focus mainly on socio-political issues.

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  • Dr Ralph Mathekga (Author and political analyst)

    Dr Ralph Mathekga

    Author and political analyst

    Ralph Mathekga started his studies in political science, law and economic history, completing BA in 1998 at University of Witwatersrand. Ralph subsequently completed Hons in Political Science in 2000 at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. After attaining Hons, Ralph completed Masters in Political Science at University of Witwatersrand.
    Ralph worked as a Political Researcher with Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) where he focused on political, social and economic research. Ralph was part of the team that drafted South Africa‘s Self Assessment Report as part of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). Ralph worked as a Lecturer at University of Western Cape, teaching courses in politics and also development. Ralph has worked at National Treasury (Ministry of Finance) in the Budget Office as a Senior Policy Analyst. Ralph continues to contribute opinion article to different newspapers, interviews on TV and Radio station on current affairs in South Africa and abroad.

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  • Dr Richard Mihigo (Immunization and Vaccines Development Program Coordinator at WHO)

    Dr Richard Mihigo

    Immunization and Vaccines Development Program Coordinator at WHO

    Dr. Mihigo is a senior public health specialist with over 25 years of experience in designing, implementing and evaluating disease control programmes at national and international levels. He joined WHO in July 2004 and is currently the Coordinator of Immunization & Vaccines Development (IVD) in the WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo; a position he has held since 2014. In this position, Dr Mihigo coordinates WHO’s technical support to Member States in the African Region in the planning, monitoring, and evaluation of immunization programmes. This includes supporting the development of policies, norms, and standards for national immunization programmes including vaccine regulation and research, establishing and strengthening partnership coordination mechanisms between countries and supporting resource mobilization efforts for national immunization programmes. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020, Dr Mihigo has been supporting WHO’s response to COVID-19 in the African Region as Deputy Incident Manager and is coordinating WHO’s efforts to support countries’ preparedness and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.
    Dr Mihigo holds a Doctorate in Medicine from the University of Kisangani, DR Congo and a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Boston, Massachusetts, USA. A national from Rwanda, Dr. Mihigo has worked from 1994 to 2003 at various senior level positions in the national health system of his native country including managing the National Immunization Programme from 2000-2003.

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