Building Africa's Inclusive, Safe and Resilient Cities

The Summit

The Transformers Summit brings together a diverse mix of thinkers, innovators and policy-makers to promote collaboration and generate ideas, stimulating progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Academics, innovators and entrepreneurs will join Government officials, influencers and development experts to discuss the latest innovations and interventions that will help achievement of UN SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.


Investing in science, technology and innovation is a key driver for growing urban populations creating sustainable cities and communities. There remains a huge funding gap to the SDGs and progress must be accelerated to meet 2030/50 targets.

This year’s themes will explore challenges relevant to the region and beyond, including:

  1. How climate change is impacting urbanisation and housing in growing cities
  2. Transport and public spaces: connecting the world’s cities and communities
  3. Education and inspiring the ever-growing youth population
  4. Improving the health of city-dwellers

H.E. President Macky Sall

President of the Republic of Senegal

President Macky Sall was born on December 11, 1961 in Fatick, the town to which he served as Mayor from 2009 to 2012. President Sall was Prime Minister for three years from 2004 to 2007, and also acted as President of the Senegalese National Assembly from 2007 to 2008. Elected fourth President of the Republic of Senegal in March of 2012, he took office on April 2, 2012.

Head of Government

Macky Sall was appointed Prime Minister on April 21, 2004. He held that position until June 19, 2007, thus becoming the longest-servingPrime Minister at that time under the President. Initially little-known, he made his mark from his first keynote speech addressing the leaders of the opposition to introduce his general policy. Mr. Sall then proceeded to work on the implementation of State projects that had been shelved: highways, Dakar’s “Corniche” (coastal line of the Capital), the new airport, etc. Additionally, as Chief of Cabinet he ran the campaign for the President’s reelection in 2007.

President of the National Assembly

On June 20, 2007, President Macky Sall was elected President of the National Assembly with 143 votes cast out of the 146 voting members. However, by attempting to summon Karim Wade, son of the President of Senegal, to the National Assembly to testify in the hearings on the work of the ANOCI (National Agency for the Organization of the Islamic Conference), he opened an unbridgeable divide. The position of Vice President of the PDS was abolished and the term of office of the National Assembly President was reduced from five years to one. He left office in 2008.

President of the Republic

As a candidate of the “Macky 2012” coalition, he campaigned throughout the country under the slogan “the path to true development,” while keeping the lines open with the Opposition Movement of June 23 (M23). Mr. Sall took second place in the first round, with 26.58% of the votes, compared to34.81% for the incumbent President. Before the second round, he rallied all defeated candidates in the Benno Bokk Yakkar coalition (meaning “united for the same hope” in the local language, Wolof) and won the election on March 25 over the incumbent -. The outgoing President called Mr. Sall on the same evening to congratulate him before the results were officially proclaimed by the Constitutional Council (65.80% of the votes, compared to34.20% for the incumbent).

Elected fourth President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall was sworn into office on April 2, 2012 at the King Fahd Palace-Soleil Hotel

True to his promise to reduce government expenses, he removed certain ministerial privileges and abolished 59 commissions and directorates deemed unnecessary including: The National Agency of Senegal's New Harbors; The Directorate of Small Aircraft Construction; The National Agency of the Desert High Authority; The Senegalese Office for Industrial Property and Technology Innovation, which overlapped with the Senegalese Agency for Industrial Property and Technology Innovation. Mr. Sall also announced audits on his predecessor’s management.

Furthermore, Mr. Sall revived the Court for the Repression of Illicit Enrichment and announced the creation of a National Anti-Corruption Office and of a National Commission for Property Restitution and Recovery of Ill-Acquired Gains.

To help reduce the cost of living, the government announced a price reduction on oil, rice, and sugar. Retirement pensions were raised and peasants received emergency subsidies. To save the school year, several national conferences on education were planned. In the field of foreign policy, he focused on rebuilding traditional alliances and allowing Senegal to regain an important diplomatic role in Africa.

Having an outward vision looking to the world, concerned with his country's development, and devoted to ensuring transparent management of the country and public policies, Macky Sall is the symbol of a new generation in Senegal’s politics as well as across the whole continent.

Amadou Hott

Minister of Economy, Planning and Cooperation, Government of Senegal

Prior to joining the Government of Senegal as Minister in charge of Economy, Planning and International Cooperation in April 2019, Amadou was the Vice President of the African Development Bank’s Power, Energy, Green Growth and Climate Change Complex, since November 2016, and has 20 years of experience in areas such as structured finance, sovereign wealth funds management, investment banking, infrastructure and the development of integrated energy solutions

Amadou held various Investment banking and Investment advisory positions in New York, London, Dubai and Lagos. He was Director of Millennium Finance Corporation for Africa, where he was responsible for project finance operations in sectors such as energy, mining, ICT and banking in Africa and Middle East. He was also Managing Director of UBA Capital, which is present in 20 African countries, and then founder and CEO of Afribridge Capital, an investment firm specializing in advisory services in Africa where he provided advice in the areas of energy, electricity, information, communications and technology.

In 2012, after 15 years of international investment banking and advisory work, Amadou returned to Senegal to serve his country. His roles in Senegal included: Special Advisor of HE President Macky Sall, Chairman of Aéroport International Blaise Diagne (Senegal’s new international airport) and Founder and CEO of Senegal’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, as part of which he launched major infrastructure investment initiatives, including renewable energy and energy projects.

Amadou has undergraduate degrees in applied mathematics and economy, an MSc in Finance, from Sorbonne University in Paris, which included participation as an exchange student in New York University’s MSc in Financial Mathematics program. He was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2012.

H.E. Dr. Bandar Hajjar

President, Islamic Development Bank

Dr. Hajjar is President of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB); a multilateral development bank that fosters the economic development and social progress of 57 member countries and Muslim communities. Dr. Hajjar served as Minister of Hajj and the Minister of Culture and Information in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He has been active in the promotion of human rights and was the founder of the Saudi National Society for Human Rights. He has a PhD in Economics from Loughborough University.

Dr. Hayat Sindi

Senior Advisor to the President, Science, Technology and Innovation, Islamic Development Bank

Dr. Hayat is a leading biotechnologist and a champion of science and technology in the Middle East. In 1995, she became the first woman from the Gulf to obtain a Ph.D. in biotechnology from Cambridge. With a team from Harvard, she co- founded Diagnostics For All to create affordable diagnostic devices for people in impoverished regions. She has launched the i2 Institute for Imagination and Ingenuity to encourage innovation among young scientists, technologists and engineers. Dr. Sindi is a Goodwill Ambassador for Sciences at UNESCO; one of 25 global experts selected by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to the UN Scientific Advisory Board; and a member of the Ten Members Group to support the technological facilitation mechanism (TFM) for the SDGs.

Forest Whitaker

Founder and CEO, Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative

Forest Whitaker, artist and social activist, is the founder and CEO of the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI), whose mission is to empower young women and men to become leaders, peacemakers and entrepreneurs in their communities through a unique conflict resolution and peace building program, combined with innovative use of technology and skills building. Mr Whitaker is also the UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, and a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy Group. In 2014, he started collaborating with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, a topic on which he was invited to speak before the Security Council in September of that year. Whitaker is also one of Hollywood’s most accomplished and versatile figures, having received the 2007 Academy Award for Best Actor. Through WPDI, he has developed the Youth Peacemaker Network, a global peacebuilding social network with hubs in South Sudan, South Africa, Uganda, and Mexico. He and WPDI are committed to providing educational tools and economic opportunities to young women and men in regions touched by violence and armed conflict.

Entertainment by Youssou N’Dour

Youssou N’Dour wants the world to stop haggling over the wealth of Africa, a continent where Senegal plays a leading role. 

Six years after the reggae campaign and his Bob Marley cover on the Dakar-Kingston album, the Prince of the Medina of Dakar has been back in the recording studio.

While he was serving as Minister of Culture and then Tourism in the government of President Macky Sall (elected in 2012), he put his artistic activities on hold, but his current status as ‘Minister Advisor to the President’ has given him more leeway. “In Africa, there’s a dynamic movement driven by culture. Africa needs a smile on its face and must show its strengths. Senegal is a strong, pacific country with deep roots. 

Extending the bridges that Youssou N’Dour is keen to build between diasporas, Africa Rekkbrings us Song Daan, a duo with rap and R&B star Akon, who was born in the USA and raised as a child in Senegal. 

Christian Hirwa

Christian Hirwa, 28, is an ambitious, skilled, hard working person currently working with Water Access Rwanda as technical director since 2016. He started in the company as a program assistant and drilling technician when it was founded in 2014. Christian has an associate mechanical engineering background and holds a degree in Water and Sanitation Technology.  

With various training in borehole drilling, hydrogeology and geophysical surveys, he has learned the trade by doing. Christian is a member of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists and has executed the majority of the Water Access Rwanda's 92 geophysical surveying projects. Christian is pursuing his career in ending water scarcity in Africa through simple, affordable and durable solutions. 

Dennis Wall

Dennis P. Wall, PhD, received his Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. He also gained a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship in Computational Genetics at Stanford University before joining the faculty at Harvard Medical School. He is now Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Biomedical Data Sciences at Stanford Medical School. He leads a lab in Pediatric Innovation focused on developing methods in biomedical informatics to disentangle complex conditions that originate in childhood and perpetuate through the course of life, including autism and related developmental delays. Dr. Wall has innovated, adapted and deployed bioinformatic strategies to enable precise and personalized interpretation of high resolution genetic, microbiological and phenotypic data. Dr. Wall has pioneered the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence for fast, quantitative and mobile detection of neurodevelopmental disorders in children, as well as the use of machine learning systems on wearable devices, such as Google Glass, for real-time “exclinical" therapy. These same precision health approaches enable quantitative tracking of progress during treatment throughout an individual’s life enabling big data generation of a type and scale never before possible and have defined a new paradigm for behavioral detection and therapy.

Dr. Wall has founded several companies, including the digital pediatric health company, and serves as advisor on several others in working on genomic and precision health. In addition, Dr. Wall has won several awards including a spot in the top ten of the World’s autism researchers, the Vice Chancellor's Award for Research, three awards for excellence in teaching, the Harvard Medical School Leadership award, and the Slifka/Ritvo Clinical Innovation in Autism Research Award for outstanding advancements in clinical research translation. 

Manuel Lelio Gungulo

Manuel Lélio Alberto Gungulo is the founder and CEO of SUSAMATI, a social business providing innovative solutions to the sanitation market, based in Mozambique, Maputo. He is passionate about sustainable development, social impact and sanitation. He is an entrepreneur and since 2015 has started different ventures, including a GPS tracking platform for cars that was considered in 2016 the 3rd best start up in technology by Seed Star Awards.  

Manuel has also worked with social development and for three years he managed the implementation of Muva’titude, a social project that provides soft skills and vocational training for vulnerable youth to help them get in to them in the labor market, and ELEVA, a social project that helps small entrepreneurs to improve their business through training and research in human centered design. He studied Environmental Sciences and has a lot of experience in business and project management.  

Katherine Clayton

Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Katherine pursued a BS degree in Biomedical Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo because she dreamed of having a career where she could change health outcomes. In her undergraduate years she did a study abroad trip to Thailand, where she noticed how healthcare changed drastically from urban areas to rural regions. This led her to get her master’s at Cal Poly, and then move onto Purdue for her PhD in Mechanical Engineering where she tailored her theses toward appropriate technology with an emphasis on disease diagnostics.  

In 2017, she and her co-founders started the company, OmniVis. OmniVis designs field deployable technology to detect the cholera pathogen in water samples in under 30 minutes to prevent wide scale outbreaks. When Katherine is not working with the awesome OmniVis team, she likes to travel, cook, read, and hike.  

Firdaos Khidir

Firdaos Khidir is a Nigerian under 30 impact-driven innovator and entrepreneur with interests in bridging the development gap between Africa and the rest of the world. She is particularly interested in maternal and child health, and engages innovation and technology to improve health for women and children across Africa.  

Firdaos is an avid researcher, constantly seeking out-of-the-box ideas to better the world, and one of which is VulvaPad. VulvaPad came about by a combination Fidaos’ curiosity to find a healthier alternative to what unfairly avails vulnerable young girls, and her humble background from when she was a child.  

She is a Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur, Anzisha Prize Semi-Finalist, a deep thinker and business strategist with certifications from the Central Bank of Nigeria Entrepreneurship Development Centre (CBN - EDC), the United States supported YALI RLC and the Fate Foundation. With VulvaPad, she intends that no girl should ever have to miss out on opportunities that affects her future, simply because she is on her period.