Elsie Kanza is a Tanzanian Economist who has been at the centre of Africa’s strategic moves toward better infrastructural development, especially those that position the continent towards taking its rightful place in the global economy.
Before taking on the influential role of Head of Africa at the World Economic Forum, Elsie had served in several positions in the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Tanzania. She was Personal Assistant and Economic advisor to Tanzania’s fourth President, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.
Elsie joined the World Economic Forum in 2011 with a focus on driving the needed change in Africa’s economy. She has been recognised by Forbes as one of Africa’s Most Powerful Women, 2020. She was on the 50 Influential Africans in The World list by Pan-African magazine, Jeune Afrique in 2014.
Her Early Days
Elsie Kanza was born and raised in Kenya by her Tanzanian Parents. She began her education in Kenya but later left for the United States, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the United States International University – Africa. She proceeded to get a master’s degree in Finance from the University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom and an MA in Development Economics from the Center for Development Economics, William College, United States.
Restructuring Africa for Economic Growth
Elsie speaks passionately about the need for African leaders to cut down on meetings and begin to act more towards taking the continent to an economic height it so rightfully deserves. “We’re talking too much”, she says “and it’s taking too much of our time, and we have too much to lose to keep doing that.”
She speaks about the entrepreneurial mindset of Africans and how content must leverage this advantage. “The sad reality is that we are still a continent lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of competitiveness of our environment when it comes to doing business. This is a great pity because there is a global assessment on entrepreneurialism that shows Africans are the most entrepreneurial. However, most enterprises fail and a big part of this is the environment.”
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