Dr Naledi Pandor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Elsa Majimbo, Aya Chebbi and Nomcebo Zikode join #LWS2023 speaker line-up

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In what is gearing up to be the biggest FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit, more than 50 speakers will be sharing their ground-breaking insights around this year’s theme, Women 3.0: The Icons and Ideas Shaping Africa. Taking place on 8 March 2023 (International Women’s Day) at SunBet Arena, Time Square in Pretoria, South Africa, the 8th FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit will be welcoming the honourable Dr Naledi Pandor, who will deliver the opening address, and an array of other illustrious luminaries who will grace the stage during the course of the day.

“We are delighted to announce that Dr Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, will open this year’s conference. With a strong background in science and technology and as a formidable powerhouse in government, she will set the tone for what promises to be a powerful summit,” commented Renuka Methil, Managing Editor, FORBES AFRICA. “She will be joined by other dynamic personalities, among them state leaders, representatives from the United Nations, and other influential members of the business, financial, health, fashion, and non-profit sectors. This is certainly not a summit to be missed!”

Presented by McDonald’s, in association with The Macallan and supported by Coca-Cola, Access Bank, Avon, Lucara Botswana and The ROOM, the 2023 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit promises dynamic, in-person conversations on energy, fintech, agritech, climate resilience, the new wealth sectors and more.

Daniel Padiachy, Executive of Supply Chain, Marketing and Technology at McDonald’s South Africa – the event’s presenting partner – said: “The partnership between McDonald’s SA and the FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit is one that speaks to synergy and the beliefs that both organisations hold when it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion as well as women empowerment. McDonald’s SA believes in platforms that foster dialogue amongst female leaders to cross-weave their knowledge and drive socio-economic change.”

Commenting on their support for the event, Sugendhree Reddy, CEO of Access Bank Plc, said: “With International Women’s Day 2023 approaching, Access Bank is proud to be a financial entity that supports women in every sphere of business. From Access Bank’s sponsorship of Womenpreneur Pitch-A-Ton South Africa, to creating opportunities for women within our operations, we are proud to participate in the FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit this year.

“As one of the more progressive banks in Africa, with our vision of becoming the most trusted bank on the continent, we look forward to seeing the remarkable women from every sector being raised up on this public platform and wish all participants a spectacular 2023 International Women’s Day.”

Speakers at the 2023 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit

·     Dr Naledi Pandor has held a position in public office since 1994, having served as a member of cabinet in South Africa since 2009. In addition to her role as Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Pandor has served as Minister of Education (2004-2009); Minister of Science and Technology (2009-2012); Minister of Home Affairs (2012-2014); Minister of Science and Technology (2014-2018); and Minister of Higher Education and Training (2018-19).

Upon being awarded Germany’s highest federal award, the Grand Cross of Merit, the German Ambassador to South Africa, Walter Lindner, said: “Pandor is for us a symbol of the new South Africa: modern, innovative, dedicated to scientific progress and also outstanding female leadership.”

She is joined by several high-profile speakers who’ve just been announced, among them:

·     Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the 24th President of Liberia, the first elected female Head of State in Africa, and the Founder of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Center for Women and Development. After decades of fighting for freedom, justice and equality in Liberia, President Sirleaf was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for Peace in 2011 alongside fellow Liberian Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen.

·       Amina J Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group. She previously served as Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where she steered the country’s efforts on climate action. She first joined the United Nations in 2012 as Special Adviser to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and led the process that resulted in global agreement around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

·       Aya Chebbi is a Pan-African feminist and Tunisian diplomat whose mission is the liberation of African women and girls. She rose to prominence as a voice for democracy and a political blogger during Tunisia’s peaceful revolution in 2010/2011 which toppled a 23-year dictatorship. She is the Founder of Nala Feminist Collective (Nalafem), Africa’s largest multigenerational alliance of women activists and politicians for transformative feminist change. She received the Bill and Melinda Gates Campaign Award and was named in FORBES Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women. 

·     Louisa Mojela is the Founder and Chair of Bophelo Bioscience and Wellness Company (now Bophelo Biomed) cultivating cannabis for medicinal products in Lesotho. She worked for the Lesotho National Development Corporation; the Development Bank of Southern Africa as Project Leader in Business and Entrepreneurial division; the World Bank, Africa Region in Southern Africa Division; and Standard and Corporate Merchant Bank as Manager for Emerging Markets. In 1994, she and three women founded Women Investment Portfolio Holdings (WIPHOLD), the first women-owned and led company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

·       Naana Frimpong is a partner in the global law firm, DLA Piper’s white-collar defence group where she leads the firm’s US/Africa engagement and serves as the US representative on the DLA Piper Africa Board. Frimpong is also a board member for her firm’s Global Scholarships Programme, a member of the Yale University President’s Council on International Activities, and a member of the Board of Trustees of Amherst College. 

·     Hajer Sharief, the Libyan peace activist, co-leads the work of the Together We Build It (TWBI) organisation that promotes women and youth participation in peacemaking. Hajer is one of UN Women’s 12 Champions on Women, Peace and Security and Human Rights, as well as being a member of the Extremely Together young leaders, an initiative by Kofi Annan and the Kofi Annan Foundation.

·      Salma Rhadia Mukansanga, is a Rwandan international football referee listed with FIFA since 2012, as well as a nurse. In 2022, she was the first woman to referee at the African Cup of Nations, as well as officiating at the Olympics, FIFA Women’s World Cup, Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, and CAF Women’s Champions League. In 2022, she was one of the three women referees selected to officiate at the FIFA World Cup to be hosted in Qatar – the first female African to officiate at the men’s top-tier soccer event.

·     Nomcebo Zikode is the South African singer-songwriter who featured on the hit song Jerusalema, winning the category of Best Female Artist at the KZN Entertainment Awards. The song gained worldwide attention in 2019, with 85 million streams on Spotify, and around 546 million views on YouTube. She’s the second-ever Grammy award-winning female from South Africa.

·        Elsa Majimbo is a 21-year-old, multi-award-winning comedienne and author – as well as a 15-time chess champion – who took the world by storm in 2021. In the last 18 months, Elsa has won several awards including The E People’s Choice Award (US), Youtube Streamy (US), the FORBES AFRICA Entertainer of the Year Award and the GQ Entertainer of the Year Award (SA).

This is just a preview of some of the many hard-hitting speakers who will be enlightening the audience at the 2023 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit!

After a full day engaging on critical issues and unlocking new opportunities, the summit will culminate in the prestigious 2023 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Awards, a glittering ceremony where the most accomplished leaders and luminaries will be honoured for their impactful work.

More information:

The 2023 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit:

When: 8 March 2023

Where: SunBet Arena at Time Square, Pretoria, South Africa

Time: 08h15 – 15h30

Theme: Women 3.0: The Icons and Ideas Shaping Africa


When: 8 March 2023

Where: SunBet Arena, Time Square, Pretoria, South Africa

Time: 19h00 – 23h00

Ticket prices

Summit – R1 500

Dinner – R1 500

Full Access – R 3 000

Table Bookings – Contact the Events Team for more information.

How to get involved:

You can become a part of the change by registering to attend the summit; visit the following platform:

https://leadingwomensummit.co.za/. Alternatively, you can follow us on social media @LWSummit, #LWS2023. You can also come on board as an event sponsor or activation sponsor.

Contact details:

Sponsorship and exhibition opportunities: sales@abn360.com

Social media-related enquiries: Edith.Ngcobo@abn360.com

Event-related queries: Nastassia.Charles@abn360.com / Alshanthe.Smith@abn360.com