NEXT LEVEL: Greg Mills, Hailemariam Desalegn & Emily vd Merwe

Date: 24 March 2020
Time: 17:30 for 18:00 – 19:30
Venue: UCT GSB Academic Conference Centre, 9 Portswood Road, Green Point


GSB Connect

In conversation with



UCT GSB Senior Research Fellow, Lecturer

The conversation will touch on “SOE overhaul, the Ethiopian way”. In an era of debt-ridden national flag carriers, Ethiopian Airlines (ET) stands out as a singular success -  an example of how good governance can promote a vibrant service company, and of the advantage of technocrats being allowed to get on with their jobs free from political interference. Successful State-Owned Enterprises are needed for any economy to succeed. Why are ours so dire and what can be done? 

We then move on and speak to them about their new book “The Asian Aspiration: Why and How Africa Should Emulate Asia”. Why has Asia developed while Africa lagged?

“Next Level”:  talks to the next level of sharing of ideas and making information available


Greg Mills heads the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation, which was established in 2005 by the Oppenheimer family to strengthen African economic performance. He has been a visiting fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at Australia National University, Cambridge University's Centre for African Studies, the Vietnamese Academy for Social Sciences and Shanghai University's Centre for Global Studies. An Advisory Board member of the London-based Royal United Services Institute, he is the author of the best-selling books Why Africa Is Poor: And What Africans Can Do about It (2010), Africa's Third Liberation (2012), and, together inter alia with Brenthurst's chairperson Olusegun Obasanjo, Making Africa Work: A Handbook for Economic Success (published in four languages in 2017) and Democracy Works: Rewiring Politics for Africa's Advantage (2019). The national director of the South African Institute of International Affairs from 1996-2005, he has worked with the United States National Intelligence Council and the British Army's Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre on their respective global trends projects, and the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan during four deployments between 2006 and 2012. He has directed reform projects in more than a dozen African countries, including Rwanda, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia, Somalia and Mozambique. He served as a Danish Africa Commissioner and as a member of the African Development Bank's High Level Panel on Fragile States. He was born and schooled in Cape Town, and he holds degrees from the University of Cape Town and Lancaster University


Hailemariam Desalegn was the second executive prime minister of Ethiopia, who served from August 2012 following the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi until his resignation and handover to his successor Prime Minister Abyi Ahmed in April 2018. Previously, he served as deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, social affairs and government chief-whip minister under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. He also served as governor of the Southern Regional State for six years. Born in 1965, he holds a civil engineering degree from Addis Ababa University. In 1990 he won a scholarship to Tampere University of Technology in Finland, earning a Master's degree in water and environmental engineering. He also earned a second Master's degree from Azusa Pacific University in California in 2006. Upon his return to Ethiopia, he served in various academic and administrative capacities, including as the dean of the Water Technology Institute. He is the first leader in modern Ethiopian history to step down voluntarily, setting the stage for sweeping reform. With annual economic growth rates averaging over 10% during his tenure as prime minister, he viewed his resignation as vital in the bid to conduct reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy. He sits on the board of The Brenthurst Foundation.


Emily van der Merwe is an environmental and development economist at The Brenthurst Foundation. She graduated with a Master's degree from the London School of Economics in 2018, having previously studied economics and law at Stellenbosch University as a Mandela Rhodes scholar. Before joining The Brenthurst Foundation, she worked in London at Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs) and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change.


Position: UCT GSB Senior Research Fellow | Lecturer
Qualifications: BA, Zambia | MA, York | PhD, Cape Town
Areas of Expertise: International Economics and Finance, Strategy, Business in Africa, Institutional Reform Analysis,Business Model Innovation, Emerging Markets

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