Wamkele Mene was elected by the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of States & Government of the African Union, to the position of Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat.
Prior to being elected Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, he served as Chief Director: Africa Economic Relations, at the Department of Trade & Industry of South Africa. In this role, he was South Africa’s chief trade negotiator in the AfCFTA and Tripartite FTA negotiations. During his tenure as chief negotiator, South Africa ratified both the AfCFTA and Tripartite FTAs agreements, providing new export markets in fast growing and dynamic markets in East and West Africa.
Prior to assuming this position, Wamkele was Director: International Trade Law & Investment Law at the Department of Trade & Industry, a role in which he was principal legal counsel on international trade law and international investment law.
From 2010 until 2015, Wamkele represented South Africa at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland. During his posting to the WTO, Wamkele was elected by over 130 governments to the position of Chairman of the Committee on International Trade in Financial Services, a committee comprising trade negotiators, financial regulators and financial policy makers from over 160 countries.
Prior to joining the government, Wamkele worked for the law firms Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in London and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP in Hong Kong.
Wamkele has written and lectured internationally on international trade law, international investment law and international business law. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Law) degree from Rhodes University in South Africa, a Master of Arts in International Studies & Diplomacy (with specialization in International Economics) from the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), University of London and a LL.M. (Master of Laws) in Banking Law & Financial Regulation from the Law Department of the London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE).
Stephen Lande, President, is a distinguished international trade expert in the United States. Mr. Lande is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and has lectured widely in Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Mr. Lande has been involved in international trade since the 1960s.
He was initially assigned as a Foreign Service Officer to the Economic Bureau of the Department of States and then to American Embassies in Athens and in Luxembourg. He had a twelve-year career with the Office of the United State Trade Representative as the Senior Trade negotiator and the first of a long line of Assistant USTRs. In this role Mr. Lande negotiated many bilateral and multilateral trade agreements on behalf of the US Government in Asia, the Middle East, and the Caribbean.
Mr. Lande is viewed by many to be the "Father” of both the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), and an early force in creating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). More recently, he has been directly involved with U.S., Central American and African governments, and businesses in advancing the approval of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), improvements to the Caribbean Basin Initiative, the spread bilateral of Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s), and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
Dr. Witney Schneidman has nearly 40 years of experience working across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Drawing on his experience in the State Department, the World Bank, think tanks and his own consulting practice, Dr. Schneidman, a non-lawyer, has advised energy, technology, consumer, and health companies, among others, on projects in more than 30 African countries. He has also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs, and on the Africa advisory committees in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and at the U.S. Export-Import Bank.
Dr. Schneidman provides strategic advice on the varied political, economic, social, and regulatory issues that are critical to companies’ success in Africa. This includes issues related to Corporate Social Responsibility, compliance, market entry and risk mitigation. He played a leading role in the passage and recent reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act and was a delegate to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit co-hosted by President Obama during his visit to Kenya.
Dr. Schneidman chairs Covington’s Africa Practice Group and is a senior member of the firm’s Public Policy Practice Group, the International Strategy Group and the International Trade and Finance Group.
Dr. Schneidman has written extensively on African economic and political issues and aired his views on CBS News, CNN, National Public Radio, the BBC, and the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation, among other media outlets. He is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution.