Speakers

Biographies appear in alphabetical order:

His Excellency, Mr. Akbar Al Baker

H.E. Mr. Akbar Al Baker is chairman of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and one of the most recognisable figures in the global aviation industry.

Born in Doha, he is a graduate in economics and commerce and worked at various levels in the civil aviation directorate before becoming Qatar Airways’ Group chief executive in 1997.

The airline operated just four aircraft prior to his appointment. It currently flies more than 200 to more than 150 destinations across six continents.

Qatar Airways was named ‘Airline of the Year’ in 2017, 2015, 2012 and 2011 by global industry body Skytrax.


Adefunke Adeyemi

Adefunke Adeyemi is the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regional head, member & external relations for Africa and Middle East.

A lawyer in Nigeria by profession, she joined IATA in 2009 after initially being part of the team that set up Virgin Nigeria Airways in 2004.

In her current role, she is responsible for conceptualising and delivering an ongoing campaign regarding the transformation of Africa’s socio-economic prospects through enhanced connectivity across the continent.

Adefunke also heads the ‘women in leadership’ initiative for IATA in Africa and the Middle East.


Abdullah Al-Sayed

Abdullah M Al-Sayed is president and CEO of the NEXUS Group.

As founder of NEXUS Flight Operations Services, he supervises all aspects of Group business.

Under his leadership, the organisation has grown to become a global leader in aviation operations services.

Before founding NEXUS, he was CEO of NetJets Middle East. He has also served as director, regional sales & business development, for Royal Jet.

Abdullah earned his Masters in Business Administration from the American University of London, has completed International Air Transport Association (IATA) flight operations management training, and is certified in project management and as a compliance officer.


Somaskaran Appavou

Somas Appavou is CEO of Air Mauritius.

He was appointed in July 2017, having worked in the aviation industry for more than 20 years.

He started his career in the strategic planning department of Air Mauritius. He then joined Airbus, where he held leadership positions including head of supply chain in Hamburg, Germany, and regional sales director for subcontinent-India and Africa.

From 2009 to 2017, he was senior sales director, Middle East and Africa at Airbus.

Somas was appointed a member of the executive committee of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) in November 2018 for three years.


Abdérahmane Berthe

Abdérahmane Berthe is the secretary general of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA). Prior to that, he was the CEO of Air Burkina.

A native of Mali, he has 28 years’ experience in the airline industry, serving on many influential committees and governing bodies during that time.

Before joining Air Burkina in 2013, he built his career, both in Europe and Africa, working in positions such as aircraft performance and dispatch engineering, maintenance and operations quality and ground operations.

Abdérahmane had a total of 16 years’ CEO experience before joining AFRAA.


Philippe Bohn

Philippe Bohn is director general of Air Senegal.

He was appointed to lead the Senegalese national airline by President Macky Sall in August 2017.

Before that he was Africa director for EADS (now Airbus Group), appointed director of business development for Airbus in 2011.

Previous roles included international affairs advisor to the CEO of ELF Aquitaine (later Total) before joining ONERA, the French national aerospace research centre, and then FC Oberthür, where he established the group’s international leadership.

Philippe also worked alongside Henri Proglio, CEO of Vivendi (now Veolia), as vice president for Africa and Latin America.


Rui Carreira

Rui Carreira is CEO of TAAG Angola Airlines.

An Angolan Air Force fighter pilot and TAAG commercial pilot in the 1990s, he later became an executive pilot at Sonangol Aeronáutica. He was also a flight instructor and aircraft accident investigator, trained in Brazil, in 2000.

He joined the TAAG board in 2008, remaining until 2013 as executive director. He was then appointed deputy director general of Angola’s Civil Aviation Authority (INAVIC) and later director general.

In mid-2017, Rui returned to Angolan flag-carrier TAAG as a member of its interim management committee and, in September 2018, was appointed CEO.


Dan Czerwonka

Dan Czerwonka is Zipline’s head of global regulatory affairs,

A graduate of Georgetown University Law School, an alumnus of America’s oldest law firm, he holds three US State Bar licenses, as well as a Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) sUAS drone operator license.

He currently manages Zipline’s integration into the national airspace of countries around the world, enjoying building lasting partnerships and collaborations with national regulators to develop comprehensive paths to safe and efficient airspace integration with manned aviation.

Dan believes strongly in providing ongoing opportunities for learning about cutting-edge systems that empower regulators to incorporate unmanned systems effectively worldwide.


Brian Day

Brian Day began his aviation career as an air traffic controller and search-and-rescue (SAR) mission  coordinator with Airservices Australia, becoming national manager, aviation SAR.

For eight years, from 2000, he was the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) HQ technical officer, SAR, where he facilitated the development of global civil aviation SAR services.

For five years he managed the ICAO/AFCAC SAR Project to Africa when he evaluated and provided advice to some 35 African states. Later he was a SAR advisor to the UAE's Air Force and its civil aviation authority.

He now consults worldwide – most recently in Qatar – and instructs annually in SAR, safety management and emergency response at the Singapore Aviation Academy.


Vincenzo De Laurentis

Vincenzo De Laurentis is the founder and CEO of EU Wings, an Italian MRO specialising in line maintenance in Europe and particularly dedicated to Africa.

He started his aviation career in 1992 after gaining a degree in aerospace engineering.

Vincenzo has been involved as project manager for several airline start-ups, following all the certification and induction process.

The last 10 years has been dedicated to aircraft maintenance. His business view is very much ‘customer adaptive’, in order to give the best and most tailored solution in terms of costs and assistance, always guaranteeing the best safety and efficiency.


Boni Dibate

Boni Dibate is director Africa Affairs for the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO).

In a wide-ranging career, she has been executive human resources manager at Transwerk (now Transnet Rail Engineering) in South Africa; CEO of both Esselenpark Centre of Excellence and South African Express Airways; group executive manager support services at Transtel; and chief operating officer and executive manager service delivery at the Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS).

She was also chairperson of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa and is currently chairperson of the ethics and transformation committee for South African Express Airways.


General Birame Diop

General Birame Diop is national security advisor to Senegalese President Macky Sall.

Prior to this, he served as the chief of the Senegalese Air Force for nearly three years and deputy commander before that.

He is a pilot with more than 7,000 hours flying time and, as an instructor, he has trained a large number of crew now operating in the Senegalese Air Force, as well as in airlines.

General Diop often lectures on the role of the Air Force in 21st Century and the contribution of African air forces in peacekeeping missions.


Romain Ekoto

Romain Ekoto is chief aviation officer at the African Development Bank.

He took up the newly created role in June 2018 and is responsible for developing the bank’s framework to support the aviation sector in Africa.

Beginning his career with Air France after graduating from the French Civil Aviation University (ENAC) with an engineering degree, he has also worked at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), where he ran the technical assistance and air transport programmes for the western and central African region. Romain successfully led transformation projects in several civil aviation authorities and regional safety oversight organisations.


Sanjeev Gadhia

Sanjeev Gadhia is the founder and CEO of Astral Aviation, a dedicated all-cargo airline based in Nairobi, Kenya, which operates a fleet of seven cargo aircraft into Europe and within Africa and has been one of the most successful airlines in Africa for 17 years.

A banker by profession, he has a bachelor and a master’s degree in business administration from the Schiller International University in London.

Sanjeev was appointed vice-chairman of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) cargo taskforce in September 2016 and is a member of The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) board.


Carlo Gagiano

Carlo Gagiano is group executive of the Paramount Group.

He joined the group in 2013 and was appointed chief executive officer of the newly acquired Paramount Advanced Technologies. In October 2015, he joined the staff of the Paramount chairman as a group executive.

Previously, the much-decorated officer had retired from the South African Air Force in 2012 after a 44-year career. He was air force chief from 2005 to 2012 and, during his tenure, four new air systems were introduced into operations. The force also provided a successful air policing service during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.


James Geldenhuys

James Geldenhuys is head of aircraft finance at Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking.

He has 32 years’ experience in the South African banking business and spent the last 24 working in structured finance.

He has held senior positions at both ABSA and Nedbank, with particular experience in international tax structured finance and transactions in the oil industry across Africa. 

Since 2001, he has had a special interest in aircraft leasing and he established Nedbank Capital’s specialist aircraft finance business in 2008. 

James also served for five years as a non-executive director of a regional airline. 


Michael Gill

Michael Gill is executive director of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), the only global association that represents all sectors of the air transport industry. 

He also acts as IATA director, aviation environment, with responsibility for developing and implementing the organisation’s environmental work, particularly in the areas of climate change, noise, biofuel commercialisation, and the IATA environmental assessment programme. 

Prior to that, he spent six years as the organisation’s senior legal counsel, supporting its external affairs portfolio. 

Before joining IATA in May 2007, Michael was in private practice at the Paris Bar, acting for airlines and their insurers.


Richard Haas

Richard Haas, Lufthansa Technik director sales for Africa & Middle East is based in Hamburg, Germany and has worked in various management positions in the Lufthansa Group over the last 25 years.  

Prior to assuming the current position he was heading the sales organisation for North East Asia based in Hong Kong and was head of sales & marketing for Lufthansa Technik Philippines in Manila. Before joining Lufthansa, he held various sales and operational positions within Lufthansa Cargo.  

Richard has spent most of his professional life working overseas in Asia/the Americas.


Will Hetzler

Will Hetzler is a co-founder and the chief operating officer at Zipline International Inc, a logistics company that designs, manufactures, and operates drones to deliver lifesaving medical products on demand.

A Harvard-trained economist, Will graduated with honours and began his career as a management consultant with Oliver Wyman, where he focused on the aerospace industry.

As COO of Silicon Valley-based Zipline, his responsibilities span supply chain and production, business development, government and regulatory affairs, and global operations. 

Will leads the company’s work in Africa, and established Zipline’s partnership with the governments of Rwanda and Tanzania.


Richard Howard

Richard Howard is an IATA registered instructor supporting IATA in the development and delivery of its training portfolio worldwide. In addition to this Richard is an active IOSA auditor and IATA consultant specializing in quality and safety management systems. Since 2013 Richard has delivered 24 IOSA workshops to 13 African Operators on behalf of IATA and its commitment to implementing IOSA throughout the African continent.

Richard has a University Diploma in Training and Development and a Master of Science degree in Human Resource Development and Performance Management, both from the University of Leicester and is a Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society.


Marcel Jansen

Marcel Jansen is head of sales for German aircraft interiors experts aviationscouts GmbH.

As a student, he worked as a consultant for the Dutch Aviation Authorities and, after obtaining his master’s degrees in economics and logistics engineering, he became a management trainee at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, where he worked for 13 years.

As a B/E Aerospace account executive, he supported many leading airlines in northern Europe. In 2015, he joined aviationscouts GmbH, the world’s leading marketplace for used aircraft interiors. He buys and sells aircraft interiors worldwide.


Mengistu Jima

Mengistu Jima is head of the export credit agency finance unit of the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB). 

He has more than 20 years’ experience in aviation finance, project and infrastructure finance, covering various sectors.

He has been instrumental in leading and closing several aviation deals, some of which have won international awards for TDB.

In addition, Mengistu has authored several articles on aviation, renewable energy, and credit risk.

Established in 1985, TDB (formerly the PTA Bank), is a multilateral, treaty-based development financial institution with assets of more than $5 billion.


Charles Karamba

Major General Charles Karamba is the Rwandan Air Force chief of staff (AFCOS).

A highly decorated military officer, he is responsible to Rwanda’s chief of defence staff in all matters concerning command, control and management of the air force. 

Before becoming AFCOS, Karamba was the commandant of Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College (RDFCSC). 

Much of his work has been involved with peacekeeping missions and, indeed, he negotiated the first memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Rwanda Government and the United Nations, regarding deployment of the Rwandan Defence Force in the UN mission in the Sudan (UNMIS). 


Barry Kashambo

Barry Kashambo is the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regional director for eastern and southern Africa (ESAF) and is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

The former executive director of the Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA), he boasts of a rich and extensive professional experience in civil aviation that stretches back to when he worked for the Civil Aviation Authority in Uganda as a senior airworthiness inspector.

He joined the United Nations as safety officer before moving on to CASSOA, a role he held until his most recent appointment.


Henry Kikoyo

Henry Kikoyo is a partner in Brown Rudnick LLP’s bankruptcy and litigation department.  He has a focus on restructuring/turnaround in emerging markets – in particular Africa and Eastern Europe – and is a leading advisor on restructuring African airlines.

He has acted for airlines, bank and non-bank lenders, development finance institutions (DFIs), bondholders, distressed investors, governments, state-owned entities and private/public companies.

Henry has also been involved in major cross-border transactions in Europe, North & South America, Australia and Africa, as well as advising on alternative financing solutions, including secondary capital raising, non-bank lending, and aircraft operating leases on behalf of aviation clients.


Simon Knechtli

Simon Knechtli is executive director, aerospace, with leading global advisory, broking and solutions company, Willis Towers Watson.

He joined Willis in June 2014 as a member of the leadership executive.

His 30-year career in the aviation insurance broking industry included 27 years at Aon, where he rose through the ranks to become chairman of its aviation division from 2009.

Simon is recognised as having a keen focus on airlines in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, with a more recent broader experience in Asia. 


Yvonne Manzi Makolo

Yvonne Manzi Makolo was appointed RwandAir’s CEO in April 2018.

She joined the carrier in April 2017 as deputy CEO in charge of corporate affairs.

Previously, she worked with MTN Rwanda, the largest communication company in the country, as the chief marketing officer and briefly as the acting CEO.

Yvonne brings over 11 years of commercial experience to her current position.

With a fleet of 12 aircraft serving 26 destinations in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, RwandAir is one of the fastest-growing airlines in Africa.


Adriana Marais

Dr. Adriana Marais is head of innovation at SAP Africa.

The theoretical physicist holds an MSc (summa cum laude) in quantum cryptography and a PhD in quantum biology.

Since childhood, she has dreamed of living on another planet. She is currently one of the 100 Mars One Project astronaut candidates in the running to move to the ‘Red Planet’ in the next decade.

She believes the establishment of a human colony, and the potential discovery of evidence of life on Mars, would be one of the most profound possible contributions of science to humanity.


Ladislaus Matindi

Ladislaus Matindi is CEO of Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL).

Appointed in September 2016, he is responsible for steering the ATCL revamp programme, initiated by the Government of Tanzania,

He was previously CEO of the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) Africa joint programme office, a regional structure created to coordinate the deployment of the European GNSS/EGNOS services in Africa with its headquarters in Dakar, Senegal.

Ladislaus has also held management positions at the East African Community (EAC) secretariat and Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, dealing with aviation safety regulation, air navigation services, airports infrastructure development, and air transport economic regulation.


Tefera Mekonnen

Tefera Mekonnen is secretary general of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC).

He was formally its director of air transport.

His professional experience spans more than 38 years. Before joining AFCAC, he was director general of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority and had eight years working as Ethiopia’s permanent representative to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

He has served as vice-president of AFCAC and with the air transport regulatory board of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). He led ICAO general assemblies (from the 33rd to the 38th sessions), plus numerous other international and regional conferences.


Victoria Moores

Victoria Moores is an award-winning aviation journalist, specialising in African aviation. She has written for a number of publications, including African Aerospace, Airline Business, Air Transport Intelligence (ATI), Air Transport World (ATW), Aviation Week, AWIN and Flight International.

Starting out in airline ground operations in 1997 before moving into business aviation in 2002 as operations analyst for Bombardier Flexjet Europe.

Victoria joined Air Transport World as London-based European editor/bureau chief in 2012 and has been air transport editor for African Aerospace since its launch in January 2013.


Hisham Hassan Nasser

Hisham Nasser is now CEO Technical Consultant for CIAF LEASING Company in the Ministry of Civil Aviation.  Previously he was chairman consultant for EgyptAir Maintenance and Engineering.

He became the organisation’s chairman and CEO in December 2013, having originally joined the company’s technical division in 1985 as a radio engineer and having held many increasingly senior positions ever since.

In 2008, he was elected vice-chairman of the Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO) technical committee and, in 2010, he became a member of the same organisation’s MRO task force.

Hisham was elected chairman of the AACO MRO collaboration steering board in 2013.


Michal Nowak

Michal Nowak is Embraer marketing director for EMEA & Central Asia.

He is responsible for Embraer’s product and brand positioning, as well as support to the strategic sales campaigns across the region.

Before joining Embraer last year, he worked for LOT Polish Airlines as executive director strategy and innovation, supporting the carrier’s restructuring plan and subsequent strategy that turned it into the fastest growing network airline in Europe.

He also has extensive consulting experience, working for and with Boston Consulting Group for several years.

Michal graduated with a law degree from Warsaw University and Universita di Catania.


Alan Peaford, MBE

Alan Peaford is an aviation writer and broadcaster. He is editor-in-chief of; TIMES Aerospace publications including ADS Advance, African Aerospace and Arabian Aerospace magazines and FINN, the Farnborough International’s digital media channel,. He is also the chairman of Aerocomm Ltd, a UK-based media consultancy and support company specialising in aviation and aerospace.

In this role he has been consultant editor for Flightglobal for almost three decades and was responsible for developing the Flight Daily News at the world’s major airshows and events such as EBACE and NBAA. He is author of the Pocket Guide to Business Aircraft, now in its 12th edition, and is a regular aviation broadcaster in the UK and internationally.

Alan is a private pilot, has won five Aerospace Journalist of the Year awards and in 2014 was given a lifetime achievement award at the annual event at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London.

In January 2014 he was awarded with an MBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.


Luthando Prinsloo

Dr Luthando Prinsloo’s initial working life was as a naval officer, during which time he earned a BSc in physics at the South African Military Academy, qualified as a navy diver, specialised in operations and weapons, and retired after ten years as a ship’s captain.

He developed into an organisational thrivalist, and is completing a PhD in ‘leadingship’; the people-influencing modality that is superseding management and leadership. Luthando combines his passions for entrepreneurship, technology, strategy and aviation in his role as Director business development Africa at Airborne Technologies, Austria.


Svlien Rangelov

Svilen Rangelov is co-founder & CEO of airfreight specialist, Dronamics.  

He leads a team developing the world-leading cargo unmanned air vehicle (UAV) Black Swan – a fixed-wing aircraft that, the company claims, can transport 350kg over 2,500km cheaper than any aircraft in existence. 

In 2014, he co-founded Dronamics with his brother, Konstantin, an aerospace engineer.

The team’s pioneering work has won numerous international awards and, in 2018, Dronamics became the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA’s) first strategic partner for drones worldwide.

Before Dronamics, the economics graduate from Davidson College, USA, managed marketing and business development projects on four continents.

 


Rolland Besoa Razafimaharo

Rolland Besoa Razafimaharo is CEO at Air Madagascar.

He first joined the airline in 1976 after graduating from the École nationale de l’aviation civile (ENAC), Toulouse as an engineer.

He had previously held various positions, including air operations officer, chief financial officer, technical director and, ultimately, CEO up until 2000.

Rolland was appointed as Ambassador of Madagascar to Canada (2000-2002) and then joined the UN peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast (2005-2016), becoming chief aviation officer to the mission.

In 2017, he was selected to again lead the airline and implement the business plan set up through a strategic partnership with Air Austral.  


Chris Rocheleau

Chris Rocheleau is the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) executive director for international affairs.

He has been with the agency for more than 17 years and oversees the international offices in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America. 

He was previously the FAA’s chief of staff, serving as a key advisor to the administrator and providing leadership, guidance, oversight, and coordination of activities dealing with aviation policy and resource management programmes. 

Before joining the FAA, Chris served in the military as an officer and special agent with the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations. 


Joao Miguel Santos

Joao Miguel Santos is managing director Boeing International for sub-Sahara Africa.

He directs Boeing activities in all African countries except Egypt.

A Boeing company man for 38 years, he also serves as Boeing Commercial Airplanes sales director for countries in southern Africa.

He began his career in 1979 as an engineer and scientist at Douglas Aircraft Company, joining Boeing Commercial Airplanes in 1984 as area manager for airline analysis. He has served all over the world in a highly varied career with a vast array of jobs and responsibilities.

Miguel is currently based in Johannesburg.


Rahul Shah

Rahul Shah is senior vice president of the AAR Corporation.

He joined the organisation in 1991 as a development engineer for AAR Engine Component Services in New York and Connecticut, USA. He then became program manager, with responsibility for sales and marketing of the company’s engine component repair business, graduating to VP sales and marketing for AAR’s Asia Pacific region in 2000.

He was promoted to Asia Pacific Operations MD in 2002 – the business growing seven-fold under his leadership. 

Rahul is now focused on growing AAR’s presence in Africa, India and the Middle East, in addition to Asia Pacific.


Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo

Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo is the director of strategy and business development at Cronos Airlines.

She is founder of the Young African Aviation Professional Association (YAAPA), a non-profit organisation that creates a platform for exchange between aviation professionals and young people.

She advocates for stakeholders to invest more on human capital development through innovative methods in Africa to ensure a safe and secure aviation for the next generation. 

Founded in 2007 by Andrew Artemio Kaiafas, Cronos, which has its HQ in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, has a proven track record of service and safety in west and central Africa.


Jason Sutcliffe

Jason joined Rolls-Royce in 2006 as a Fleet Planner in the newly formed Operations Centre in Derby, responsible for the Trent 800 fleet of engines.

After 3 years and following a 1 year secondment with Singapore Airlines, Jason undertook a position in East Hartford USA as a Customer Fleet Director with International Aero Engines (IAE), this was a joint venture with Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney, MTU and JAEC, he was responsible for the day-to-day management of the V2500 engine with many International and VVIP customers.

In 2012 Jason returned to the UK to take up the position of Marketing Director for Roll-Royce, where he is responsible for directing all Customer Marketing activity in the Middle East and Africa,  playing a customer relationship role in both the Target and Sales phases.

Prior to joining Rolls-Royce, Jason spent 19 years in the British Royal Air Force as an Aircraft Engineer.


Mesfin Tasew

Mesfin Tasew is chief operating officer at Ethiopian Airlines.

He joined Ethiopian in 1984 as an associate engineer and progressed through the organisation, serving in supervisorial and managerial positions in the technical areas.

In 1997 and 1999, he was appointed as director operations & technical systems support and chief information officer respectively.

In 2006, he became vice president maintenance and engineering.

He has been Ethiopian COO since November 01, 2010.

Mesfin holds BSc and MSc degree in electrical engineering from Addis Ababa University plus a master of business administration MSc from the UK’s Open University.


Sebastien Taupiac

Sebastien Taupiac is Airbus marketing director customer affairs.

Having started his professional career in the software industry as a project manager, he quickly stepped into business development, holding different sales positions.

He joined Airbus in the services division in 2008 as a support and services key account manager and business developer for Europe, Middle-East and Asia.

In 2013, he joined the commercial directorate, moving to airline marketing. Today he is airline marketing director involved with sales campaigns across Europe and Africa.

Sebastien holds a Master’s degree in business administration and management and a Master’s degree in computer and information sciences.


Frederic Thenevin

Frederic Thenevin is ADP Engineering (Paris Airports group) head of business development for Europe, Africa and the Americas – a hybrid role combining business acumen and a remarkable experience in the field of civil aviation.

He has 25 years’ experience in civil aviation, airport development and international project management.

He has developed projects in Africa, eastern Europe, China and ASEAN countries assisting air navigation service provider (ANSPs), airlines, aviation and airport authorities.

Frederic graduated as an executive civil aviation engineer with a specialisation in air transport economy and airport operation from the prestigious French Civil Aviation Academy (ENAC, Toulouse). 


Valentine Tongo

Captain Valentine Tongo is CEO of Allied Air Ltd.

An airline pilot with more than 30 years’ experience, he founded Nigeria-based Allied Air in 1998.

In 2015, he led his management team through the International Air Transport Association (IATA) operational safety audit (IOSA) – the airline becoming the first African all-cargo operation to receive this certification.

Previously, he was part of the team charged with restructuring Nigeria’s airports to meet international standards, including buying instrument landing systems for 19 facilities.

In 2015, Valentine was appointed a member of the ministerial committee for the establishment of a proposed Nigerian national carrier.


Silas Udahemuka

Col. Silas Udahemuka is a member of the board of directors of the EAC - Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency, which is a Regional Safety Oversight Organization (RSOO).

Currently serving as the Director General of Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority. Before being promoted to the position of the Director General in 2014, Silas deputised the Director General in  the same organisation and he was responsible for Airports Management and Operations. A position he served in for 7 years.

Silas joined the Civil Aviation Authority in Jan 2007.


Isabelle Umugwaneza

Isabelle Umugwaneza is acting managing director of Rwanda Airports Company, which operates all airports in the country.
With a background in policy research and advocacy, she focuses on strengthening synergies in the aviation sector to boost trade and industrial growth across the region, continent and worldwide.

The holder of a master’s degree in social psychology and communication from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE); and a BA in international management from Manhattanville College, she previously contributed to monitoring the implementation of national priorities and strategic planning, and organised public talks to foster perspective-taking around societal issues.


Girma Wake

Girma Wake is aviation adviser of the president of Togo and has just joined the Ethiopian Airlines Group board.

The 75-year-old has 50 years’ experience in the aviation industry. He was trained at the Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy and served the airline for 34 years in various posts, ultimately leaving to join Gulf Air. He also worked for DHL in the Middle East. 

He returned to Ethiopian in 2004 to take the CEO position. After successfully restructuring the airline he retired in 2011.

Girma subsequently served RwandAir as board chairman and worked as advisor of the Rwandese Minister of Transport.


Rob Watts

Rob Watts is CEO and VP financial solutions at Aerotask, a global aviation consultancy offering asset management and financial solutions to airlines, lessors, financial institutions, and aviation investors.

One of the company’s founding shareholders, he has experience in structuring and modelling complex aircraft lease transactions, as well as aviation start-ups, mergers & acquisitions, and restructurings.

A regular speaker at aviation conferences, he regularly covers topics related to aircraft leasing, financing, and aircraft appraisals.

Before starting Aerotask, Rob worked for Airbus consultancy TASC Aviation. He also holds a finance degree from the University of Wollongong, where he was awarded top graduate.


Chris Zweigenthal

Chris Zweigenthal is CEO of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA).

He qualified as a civil engineer at the University of the Witwatersrand, obtained his graduate diploma in engineering and worked for 10 years in the construction industry.

In 1988, he joined South African Airways, holding senior positions in the petroleum affairs, flight operations, and marketing planning departments.

Appointed MD of Uganda-based SA Alliance Air, he subsequently returned to South Africa to head up SAA’s global passenger services.

Chris joined the AASA as deputy chief executive in February 2002, stepping up to his current role in March 2009.


For the opportunity to speak at our event, please contact:
the office of the summit chairman; here.


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