WACREN 2017's Keynote Speaker: Dr. Jennifer Blanke, Vice President, AfDB

Jennifer Blanke (ADB)
Jennifer Blanke is Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development at the African Development Bank (AfDB). The American-Swiss citizen, who joined the Bank earlier this year, is a renowned and globally respected development economist.

With more than twenty years of experience, she is the primary responsible for carrying out two of AfDB's five strategic priorities (the High 5s): Feed Africa and Improve the Quality of Life of People in Africa through the departments she oversees (Agriculture and Agro-industry; Agricultural Finance and Rural Development; Water and Sanitation; Gender and Civil Society; Human Capital, Youth and Social Development). With her teams, Jennifer aims to make Africa a net food exporter by 2025, create 25 million jobs, and train 32 million young people over the next ten years.

Before joining the AfDB, she was Chief Economist and member of the Executive Committee of the World Economic Forum, Switzerland, where she provided global leadership on economic and development issues. During her 18-year career at the World Economic Forum, other roles held included Lead Economist and Head of the Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking team, and Senior Programme Manager responsible for developing the business, management, and technology sections of the Annual Meeting in Davos.

Prior to joining the World Economic Forum, Jennifer worked as a management consultant for Eurogroup (Mazars Group) in Paris, France, where she specialized in banking and financial market organization.

She brings to the AfDB a diverse wealth of knowledge and experience on economic, human and social development, private sector and public-private partnerships. She is globally respected for her works on how to support countries to drive greater economic competitiveness and reduce the cost of doing business and has led the development of the Global Competitiveness Report and the Africa Competitiveness Report. She has worked extensively on Africa and has served as a respected advisor to several governments on economic, human and social development issues to reduce growth inequalities. She is presently member of the Canadian government’s Council of Economic Growth and holds a number of non-executive board responsibilities in the not-for-profit sector.

She has written and lectured extensively on issues related to national competitiveness and has edited a number of competitiveness reports, with a particular regional focus on Western Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.

She holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University, New York, and an MA and PhD in International Economics from the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva. She speaks French, English and Spanish. She is married and has two children.