Meet our Speakers

Dr. Alex Stancu

Dr Alex Stancu is the Head of Account Management for South & East Africa overseeing IATA’s operations in 23 countries in South East Africa, owning and nurturing senior level relationships with 30+ airlines, 50+ airports, Governments (Civil Aviation Authorities, Transport, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Environment and Trade ministries), 2000+ travel agents, freight forwarders and other stakeholders from transport and travel industry in the region.

Alex  previously worked in corporate strategy, project and risk management, financial management and internal controlling. He coordinated and implemented a regional transformation program with an organizational redesign of traditional hierarchical model into an agile, program-management driven, network structure aimed at customer-centricity through redesigning effective RACI matrix and account management culture.

He is a business partner focused on results. He is customer-centric, proactive, autonomous, task-oriented and with excellent analytical skills and an ability to find solutions. He has 15+ years of international expertise, having worked and lived on 3 continents and in 4 countries. Alex speaks English and French and holds a Doctor’s Degree (PhD) in Economics and an MBA Degree from the University of Geneva, Switzerland.

Basil Pietersen

Basil Pietersen, Managing Director of Multilog and Southern African Group Executive Director of Afrilog, has spent over 50 years in the freight and logistics industry – working all over the globe and holding various senior positions and directorships across various companies.

Basil began his career at South Africa’s first customs clearing and freight forwarding Consulting business. After 40 years and a wonderful career with MIC Kaplan (who then became MICOR and DNA Supply Chains, before being bought out by Super Group), Basil embarked on a new adventure within the industry which led to the creation of Multilog and Afrilog.

To date, Basil has successfully managed projects in 42 countries on the African Continent with cargo/equipment originating from all over the globe and utilising every mode of transport available. He has extensive experience and expertise across a number of industries including mining, construction, water purification, breweries/bottling plants, hospitality and retail.

In addition to his roles with Multilog and Afrilog, Basil holds various positions with industry associations including: President of FIATA, former Chairman of RAME and Board Member of SAAFF, where he has held various other positions, including Chairman for the last 12 years.

Beyers Theron

Beyers Theron is a Customs Officer who has served in various roles within Customs & Excise since 1983 culminating in the recent appointment as the Director: Customs Border Control, Ports of Entry and Compliance Management. Prior to that, he was Acting Chief Officer: Customs & Excise since 2018.

He has significant experience in Customs Operations and Modernisation, having spent 37 years in the Customs division of the South African Revenue Service (SARS).


He started his career as a Customs officer in the then Department of Finance in 1983, followed by a lengthy tenure in Customs training.
In the late 1990s, Beyers was chosen to play a leading role in the Customs Transformation Programme, which became a SARS-wide programme called Siyakha. He was tasked with the full organisational restructuring of the Customs component within SARS.


Beyers later became the Director of Customs Operations at SARS, and oversaw national Customs Operations for several years.


As Executive: Customs Modernisation Strategy & Design, Beyers headed up the Customs Modernisation Programme from 2010 until 2016, implementing a new automated Customs declaration processing system and a cutting edge inspection process. At the time of his appointment as Acting Chief Officer, Beyers was Executive: Customs and Excise Centre of
Excellence, a position which has seen him drive implementation of the New Customs Acts Programme (NCAP).


From a regional perspective, Beyers has played a leading role in establishing Customs’ data exchange and regional accreditation programmes.

He has extensive international experience, and has represented SARS on various global and regional bodies and working groups. He also represents SARS on the WCO SACU Connect Programme Steering Committee, and is often consulted for assistance and guidance on Customs Modernisation programmes internationally and within the SACU region.

Bruce Ellison

Bruce is a strategy consultant who has been working with the World Bank Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment Division since 2019, supporting implementation of provisions of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and supporting programmes in South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi and Afghanistan.   He has also worked with international donors, development agencies, freight forwarding businesses, The World Economic Forum, USAID, GIZ, and supported the University of KwaZulu-Natal with its local Trade and investment educational diploma programme.

Bruce also enjoyed a long relationship with SARS, where he played an ongoing role in strategy formation and modernisation. Outside of the trade arena, Bruce has also worked with many companies including Ford Motor Company, Alexander Forbes, Old Mutual, SAB, SABC, and private equity organisations. He was born in the UK and read degrees at Durham and Oxford Universities prior to moving to South Africa and completing his MBA at UCT In 1999

Bruce Whitfield

Bruce is a multi-platform award-winning financial journalist. His work on radio, television and in print gives him unique access to South Africa’s biggest power brokers in business and money. Bruce has been named Financial Journalist of the Year three times in the past decade by independent judges in the annual Sanlam Awards and has received recognition for his work on the economy, companies and personal finance. Bruce has developed the ability to tell compelling stories about the political economy in a way that is creative and engaging. He has worked in the highly competitive London radio market and has worked as a foreign correspondent for various global news organisations. He graduated top of his class with a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Rhodes University and has been practising as a journalist for over two decades. One day he hopes to turn it into a career.

Bruce presents The Money Show on 702 and CapeTalk, has hosted a number of TV shows, and is a Contributing Editor for Financial Mail. He is also a sought-after public speaker, MC and conference facilitator. His first book, Upside of Down, published by Pan Macmillan reflects the optimistic realism of his popular keynotes. It sold over 10 000 copies and has gone into a second edition which includes content reflecting on the Covid pandemic.

CAS COOVADIA

Cas is the Chief Executive Officer of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and the former Managing Director of The Banking Association SA (BASA). He is the Chairperson of the National Business Initiative abd also serves on the Board of the Centre for Development & Enterprise. He is the Immediate Past President of the International Banking Federation (IBFed).  He serves as a Council member of the University of Witwatersrand. In addition, Cas also serves the board of the Nepad Business Foundation and serves on the Steering Committee of the CEO Initiative.

Cas obtained his B.Com degree from the University College, Durban in 1971.  He completed the Housing Finance Course with the Wharton Real Estate Centre at the University of Pennsylvania. He also completed the Effective Directors Programme with the Kagiso School of Leadership. He has contributed to numerous articles and publications on housing finance, civil society, local government and the role of civic organisations in governance.

Catherine Grant Makokera

Catherine is an experienced trade negotiator and trade policy expert, having worked in the public, private and academic sectors at multilateral and regional levels. She is a Director of Tutwa Consulting Group and represents South African business in trade policy processes at the domestic and international levels, including in the B20.

She was a diplomat for New Zealand for 10 years. Since relocating to South Africa in 2000, Catherine has been involved in trade policy development and trade negotiations on behalf of the private sector and as a recognised expert. She has coordinated public-private sector engagements on a wide range of economic policy and trade promotion issues in Southern Africa.

She is a recognised researcher and commentator on economic diplomacy issues with a range of published papers, opinion pieces and blogs. She currently co-teaches an MBA elective on International Business at the Wits Business School in Johannesburg and is a Tutor for the London School of Economics online course on Business, International Relations and Political Economy.

Cobus Rossouw

Cobus Rossouw is an acclaimed industrial engineer and supply chain professional with corporate leadership, entrepreneurial and professional advisory experience in consumer and industrial markets across sub-Saharan Africa.  In all his professional roles since graduation, Cobus has focused on growth, transformation and business improvement.  He has worked in small teams of experts, has been responsible for bottom-line profit & cash flow and has led various corporate functions.  Passionate about the potential of Africa, Cobus thrives when creating value collaboratively; increasingly made possible through the disruptive technologies enabling integration of logistics, route-to-market and financial ecosystems.

Currently, Cobus is a member of the Executive Committee of the Johannesburg listed Imperial Logistics Limited, that has revenue exceeding R50 billion, EBITDA of R5 million and 28 000 people across Africa and Europe (33 countries).  In his current position as Executive Vice President for Digital & IT of Africa’s largest logistics company, Cobus is responsible for more than 300 professionals and IT cost exceeding R1 billion.  His team leads IT strategy to delivery for the Logistics Africa & Market Access businesses, supports all centre-led functions (Finance, HR, etc.), develop digital products, provide portfolio management and oversee all enterprise architecture and IT security.

Dennis Davis

Prof Dennis Davis was educated at Herzlia School in Cape Town, as well as the Universities of Cape Town (UCT) and  Cambridge.

He taught tax law, insurance  law , jurisprudence,  competition  law, labour law at UCT  from 1977 to 1998 and at Wits University from 1991 to 1998  where  he had  a professorial appointment at both universities . Prof Davis wppointed as a judge of the High Court in 1998, and  Judge President of the Competition Appeal Court from 2000-2020 . He  served on the Labour Appeal Court and  acted on the Supreme Court of Appeal. He has published widely – 11 books,  the latest of which was Lawfare (with Michelle Le Roux (2019)). He was had over 200 articles published in academic  journal . He hosted  the  awarded winning programme  Future  Imperfect from 1992-1998  and  from 2009  to 2017 Judge for Yourself, which is again on ENCA. In addition, since the advent of Covid he has hosted more than 40  interviews in series called Judgement Date. Prof David was a member of the Commission of Inquiry into the Tax System ( 1992-1995  being the Katz Commission ), the Chair of the Davis Taxcom, a member of the drafting team of the Competition Act 1998 and the Companies Act 2008, as well as a technical legal advisor during the drafting of the interim and final Constitutions. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard ,New York University , Georgetown and Melbourne . He continues to teach tax , competition law and jurisprudence at UCT , UWC and Wits.

He is now spending much of his time assisting SARS  in a capacity as a consultant.

Derek Watts

Derek Watts has been a journalist for more than 40 years, presenting on South African television since 1985 as a sports anchor on SABC News and starting TopSport.Derek has been an anchor and presenter on M-Net’s Carte Blanche since the programme’s inception in 1988.

During that time, he has presented more than 1 500 stories in the field and interviewed a cross-section of society across the world. Literally from confronting drug dealers in Hillbrow, to a very brief chat to the Queen of England, from joining Mark Shuttleworth in quarantine barracks in Khazakstan before his lift off in the Soyuz, to comforting survivors of the Boipatong massacre who had lost family and friends.The show has won more than a hundred local and international awards and Derek took the Crystal award for best male TV presenter for three years in a row, two Tonight awards and the SAB Environmental journalist of the year.

Before embarking on a career in television, Derek was an ICL System 4 computer operator, a major accounts Xerox salesman in Joburg and London, an account executive for DataSolve International and a marketing consultant for Xactics plastics.In the military he was an infantry company commander, intelligence officer and battalion adjutant.

Devlyn Naidoo

Executive for SARS & Other Government Agencies (OGAs) at SAAFF. He is passionate about skills development, capacity building and adding value for the benefit of our industry. Prior to joining SAAFF, Devlyn served as the Head of Customs Compliance and Freight Forwarding at the Maritime Business School and is a Certified Cargowise Professional. Devlyn is an avid reader and an established author. He has a passion for writing, having written and contributed toward several research papers, text books and articles on various platforms.

Devlyn has a love for education and helping others achieve greater heights in their respective careers, having successful mentored many students and guided their career development. He is currently completing his post graduate diploma in management and is pursuing the pre-registration phase for his Master’s degree in management. The areas of interest that Devlyn is actively involved in include customs compliance matters, policy writing, skills development, curriculum development, mentorship and motivational speaking.  He subscribes to the philosophy of “People before Profit” and this is inspired by teachings of his late father, George Naidoo. Devlyn looks up to the collective leadership of SAAFF as his role models and aligns his purpose with the murmurs of his heart: “serve selflessly with resilience for the benefit of our industry, economy and country at large

Edward Kieswetter

Edward re-joined as SARS Commissioner on 1 May 2019. He had formerly served as the founding Group Executive of the SARS Large Business Centre and High Nett Worth Unit, SARS Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Commissioner during the period 2004 to 2009. From 2010 to 2016, he was the Group Chief Executive for the Alexander Forbes Group Holdings where after a successful turnaround, the company was listed on the JSE. Edward also held senior executive roles at FirstRand Banking Group and Eskom. Most recently he managed his own investments and served on various boards which amongst others included NE: Transnet, Chair: Technology Innovation Agency and Lead Independent: Shoprite Holdings. He relinquished all these external roles when he took up the position as SARS Commissioner in 2019.
Edward’s qualifications include a Master of Commerce in SA & International Tax Law (Cum Laude) from North-West University, an Executive MBA from Henley Business School (UK), a Master of Science in Education from the University of Western Cape, a Honours degree in Mathematics and Science Education, also from the University of Western Cape, as well as a National Diploma in Electrical Engineering from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. In addition Edward was awarded the prestigious African American Scholarship and an academic appointment as an Associate in Education at Harvard University, USA.
He is the recipient of several awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Management in 2017 from SAPSO, Finalist in the All Africa Business Awards 2016, ACO Dealmaker of the Year, 2015, and SA Boss of the Year, 1999.
He serves as a Visiting Professor at the Da Vinci Institute as well as Free State University and remains involved as a Social Activist in his personal capacity.

Elvin Harris

Elvin Harris has been working in transportation since 1995, although mostly from a Government and macro-transport system perspective. He started at the Department of Transport in 1995, when he switched careers from education to transport. He was appointed as the first Policy Advisor: Freight Transport at the Department of Transport – a portfolio that did not exist up until his appointment.

In 2000, Elvin briefly held the position of New Business Development Manager at CSIR: Transportek, before joining Trade and Investment South Africa (a division of the DTI) as Director: Transport and Logistics.

In August 2005 he joined the Department of Public Enterprises as a Chief Director: Transport Enterprises to perform the shareholder oversight functions over Transnet and SAA. Later only to focus on Transnet. 

Elvin joined Transnet Freight Rail in August 2008. He currently serves as Executive Manager: Strategic Knowledge in the Office of the Chief Executive: Transnet Freight Rail Knowledge Management, Knowledge Centre (Information Services), Archives and Records Management and Heritage preservation.

He holds an honours level degree (Cum Laude) in Transport Management from Rand Afrikaans University (now UJ) and an Executive Programme in Logistics Management from the University of Singapore. He has also completed a Leadership Programme at the International Railway Strategic Management Institute.

Elvin also currently serves as the President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport: South Africa (CILTSA).

Dr Francis Mangeni

Dr. Francis Mangeni has worked and consulted extensively on the multilateral trade system and African economic integration. He has been aSenior Fellow with the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town, Head of Trade Promotion and Programs with the African Continental Free Trade Area, and Director of Trade Customs and Monetary Affairs with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). He was Advisor to the Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Government of Malawi; Diplomat and Senior Economist at the Permanent Delegation of the African Union to the United Nations and other International Organization based at Geneva, Switzerland; and was the Regional Trade Policy Advisor at the Commission of the African Union. He has been consultant for various international and regional organisations, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the International Labour Organisation, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the South Centre, the East African Community, the Southern Africa Development Community.

Ms Hong Nguyen

Ms Hong Nguyen is currently a Technical Officer in the Compliance and Facilitation Directorate of the World Customs Organisation (WCO). Responsible for the SAFE/AEO topic, Ms Nguyen is in charge of co-ordinating with WCO Members and stakeholders to review and update the SAFE Framework of Standards and develop guidance to support members’ implementation in these areas.

Prior to joining the WCO, Hong served as the first Customs Attaché of Vietnam Customs to the WCO. In this position, she chaired the WCO’s Revised Kyoto Convention Management Committee (2016-2017) and co-chaired a virtual working group on Customs to Business Partnership Guidelines (2013-2014).

She has participated in many academic events organised by European universities and the WCO. At the WCO’s PICARD Conference 2017, held in Tunisia, she presented a paper on “Globally Standardising the AEO Programme for higher utilisation: The Case of Vietnam”.

Having joined Vietnam Customs in 1996, Hong Nguyen was promoted to different positions dealing with revenue, trade facilitation, security and safety. As a Deputy Director of the Customs Modernisation and Reform Board, she had extensive experiences in implementing WCO Standards at the national level. 

Hong holds a Bachelor majoring in Accounting in Vietnam and earned her Master’s Degree in Banking and Finance at Monash University, Australia.

Jason Blackman

Senior Director – Customs, Trade Compliance and Regulatory Affairs: DHL Express: Sub Saharan Africa

Jason Blackman is a logistics and express industry veteran with over 22 years’ experience within the courier and logistics industry. He started working at DHL in South Africa in 1994 and has held various roles including Claims and Risk Management, Export Management, Head of Customer Operations for Sub Saharan Africa, Head of Customs for DHL Global Forwarding Sub Saharan Africa and is currently Director of Customs, Compliance and Regulatory Affairs for DHL Express Sub Sahara Africa.

He holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Economics, Marketing and Commercial Law. With a strong focus on a liberalised competitive market environment with simplified, transparent customs processes that promote and facilitate free trade Jason’s focus efforts are on regulatory engagement and collaboration between the private sector and Government as well as other Regulatory Agencies.

John Edwin Mein

John Edwin Mein is a Brazilian, born in Recife Brazil. After receiving his Master’s degree in International Business from Thunderbird, in Arizona (USA), he worked in the International area of a US Bank, in business promotion for the State of Minas Gerais in Brazil, and in business development for American and Brazilian companies. He was President of the American Chamber in Brazil for 13 years, during which time it became the largest American Chamber outside the US.

John led the efforts to organize and is the Executive Coordinator of the Alliance for Modernisation of Logistics and Foreign Trade – PROCOMEX. The PROCOMEX Alliance is a coalition of over 115 business associations with the common objective of increasing the country’s competitiveness, by modernising Brazilian customs processes. The operational arm of the coalition is the Instituto Aliança Procomex that is maintained by over 40 companies.

PROCOMEX is a member and John is the present Chair of the Private Sector Consultative Group and the Co-chair of the SAFE Working Group of the World Customs Organization.

Keith Engel

Keith Engel is the Chief Executive Officer for the South African Institute of Tax Professionals.  As part of his core duties managing the Institute, he is heavily engaged in tax at a policy, legislative and interpretative level (e.g. with National Treasury, Parliament, SARS, the Davis Tax Committee and the private sector).  His role also includes presentations and participation in regional African tax issues.  Outside of the Institute, he regularly teaches at the University of Johannesburg and is an honorary adjunct professor at the University of Cape Town, North Western University and Rhodes University.  Keith is well known for his leading roles in the formulation of tax legislation at the National Treasury from 2000 to 2013.

Keith Engel has also been heavily involved in policy issues relating to extractives.  While in National Treasury, Keith Engel was one of the chief architects of South Africa’s Mineral and Petroleum Resources Royalty Act, the Diamond Export Levy and the 10th Schedule incentive for oil and gas.  He continues to be engaged in a variety of income tax issues relating to mining and offshore gas as well as environmental rehabilitation.  His experience further includes issues relating to ownership, such as black economic empowerment and expropriation.  Outside of South Africa, Keith Engel has been involved in extractive issues arising in Uganda, Kenya and Zambia.

Lawson Naidoo

Lawson Naidoo is the Executive Secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC), an organisation committed to the principles of progressive constitutionalism, democracy and the rule of law. He has held this position since CASAC’s inception in 2010.

He has worked as a strategic political consultant focusing on the spheres of anti-corruption and good governance. He is a regular media commentator on constitutional and legal issues.

Lawson was recently appointed Chairperson of Cricket South Africa. He is a trustee of the Momentum Medical Scheme, and is the Chairman of its Governance & Remuneration Committee. He is a former trustee of the Canon Collins Educational & Legal Assistance Trust, an NGO that focuses on providing scholarships to tertiary students and the promotion of human rights in southern Africa.

Lawson is a Founding Partner at The Paternoster Group – African Political Insight, a consultancy focusing on political economy issues in South Africa.

During 2007-08 he served as the Secretary of the Presidential Enquiry into the fitness of the National Director of Public Prosecutions to hold office (the Ginwala Enquiry). He previously held the position of Special Advisor to the Speaker of the National Assembly from 1994 to 1999.

He spent many years in political exile in the UK, and worked at the ANC Mission in London, serving, inter alia, as a Spokesman for the ANC.

He holds an LL.B from the University of Southampton and an LL.M from the University of Cambridge, and was admitted as a barrister at the Inner Temple.

Letchmee Naidoo

Letchmee Naidoo spent 27 years with the South African Revenue Service (SARS), where she gained her knowledge in Customs as the head of various ports of entry. Toward the end of her tenure there,  she was instrumental in establishing the South African Revenue Services (SARS), Customs Academy. She was also the appointed head of the WCO Regional Training Centre for East and Southern Africa. She holds a Law Degree and an MBA from the University for South Africa. She has also completed a Master of International Customs Law and Administration from the Charles Sturt University. As a WCO accredited diagnostician for customs, she has been exposed to various customs reform and trade facilitation projects in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

From 2018 to 2020 Letchmee was based in Doha, delivering the Bachelor of Border Management Degree (BBM Customs) to Qatari students from the General Authority of Customs in Qatar. She is currently serving her articles at BDLS Attorneys in Port Elizabeth.

Lizeth Kruger

Lizeth Kruger is currently the Dis-Chem National Clinic Manager overseeing 400 Nursing Practitioners in 180 Pharmacies. She is a specialist in primary health care and the passion to specialized in the Primary Health Care and Pharmacology started when she worked on the Phelophepa Community Train.

Lizeth Kruger started her career in South Africa Health Military Services in 1994 and complete her formal studies in 1998. Lizeth worked as a community registered nursing practitioner for 4 years in Gauteng Medical Unit and oversaw the preventable disease program. She received the Officer Commanding certificate as best community health nurse in 2002.

Lizeth Kruger identified the need to offer Primary Health Care in private sector and assisted Local Pharmacies to open private Primary Health Care clinics from 2004 to 2010.

Lizeth Kruger completed numerous courses which include Primary Health Care & Pharmacology (Unisa University), Baby & Adult immunization course (Amayeza), Family Planning update workshop (University of Stellenbosch) and dispensing course (University of Free State).

Luciano (Luc) Pugliatti

Luc Pugliatti is a senior advisor with the trade facilitation division of the World Bank. He specialises in assisting governments implement their obligations under the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, focusing in particular on the transparency of trade information and the application of IT.

Luc has been responsible for the implementation of trade portals and the National Single Window in many countries and has also assisted governments with their Non-Tariff Measures reform programmes.

For over 10 years, Luc was a Senior Director with line management and business development responsibility for a commercial division of a major Public Finance Management consultancy offering IT solutions for the Customs and revenue sector in developing countries.

Luc has over 25 years’ experience of institutional development work and capacity building for Governments in emerging and transitional economies with particular emphasis on revenue enhancement and modernisation of Tax and Customs administration.

Lucky Molefe

Lucky Molefe is an Executive at the South African Revenue Service responsible for Cross-border Coordination. In his current role he leads all Customs engagements with Other Government Agencies including the Border Management Authority, strategic engagements with the private sector, other Customs Administrations, regional bodies and multilateral organisations. In the over two decades at SARS, he has occupied diverse roles including in Post Clearance Audits, Strategic Policy, International Customs Policy, Business Planning and Projects. Mr. Molefe also served as a South African diplomat for nearly a decade in Europe and the United States, where his roles included managing collaboration in tax and customs matters at a bilateral level with EU Member States, United States, Mexico, Canada and Brazil, amongst others. In the multilateral setting, he has participated in tax, customs and trade initiatives with the IMF, UN, World Bank, WTO, WCO and ATAF. During his tenure in Brussels as the SARS representative he participated in the developed of key global Customs initiatives such as the SAFE Framework of Standards, WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement negotiations, Globally Networked Customs and the creation of the Capacity Building Directorate in the WCO. He was a member of a small team of Customs officials from selected countries that started work on developing the Authorised Economic Operator concept.

He holds a Masters in Customs Law and Administration, MSc in Finance (Economic Policy), a Post Graduate Diploma in Economic Principles, An Advanced Certificate in Taxation and a B. Compt degree.

Maria du Preez

Maria is the Business Development Director for Bidvest International Logistics, a position she was appointed to in 2012 after a career in operations, where she held various senior executive roles within the organisation.   Maria was responsible for all aspects of the industry covering all modes of transport, customs, warehousing and distribution.  Her current portfolio includes end-to-end supply chain solutions development. She is a firm believer in lifelong learning, and she has several degrees as well as other industry-related qualifications.

She is a strong proponent for improving the level of skills in the industry to keep up to date with ever-changing industry developments.  Maria contributed to various SAAFF initiatives through the years and was appointed as director and Gauteng Regional Chairperson in May 2020. 

Dr Martin Cameron

Martin is the Managing director of TRADE Research Advisory (PTY) Ltd, a spin-out company of the North-West University’s TRADE research entity. He is a quantitative economist specialising in Quantitative Executive Decision Support modelling and strategy development, Economic Impact Analysis and Engineering Management Decision Support. He has extensive experience in these fields – also related specifically to Energy Economics and Economic infrastructure and modelling thereof. He has been involved in projects across Southern Africa, North and West Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Some recent examples of project he has been involved in includes a project with the Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing, China to identify realistic export opportunities for China’s One Belt and One Road initiative, as well as providing strategic inputs to the government of Cameroon on the country’s industrial diversification and export promotion strategy within the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) developments as part of the United Nations Economic Council for Africa (UNECA) technical support to African countries.

Martin also served on the South African Economic Advisory Network (ERAN) for the South African Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) is regularly involved in projects for private sector clients as well as South African government departments, international companies and governments as well as supranational institutions such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), World Bank and the Development Bank of Southern Africa.

Mike Fitzmaurice

Mike Fitzmaurice, the Executive Director of the Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations (FESARTA), is a cross-border logistics expert and one stop border post (OSBP) specialist consultant. He has extensive experience of regional cross-border transport operations in many African countries covering Southern and East Africa, from South Africa all the way up to Ethiopia, as well as analysis and evaluation of road freight transport operations in Southern Africa and overseas. He has performed cross-border surveys in many parts of EAC, SADC and COMESA regions inclusive of Rusumo, Mutukula, Busia, Tunduma, Katuna, Namanga Chirundu, Beit Bridge, Kazunguka, Kasumbalesa, Ressano Garcia, Luvo (Angola) and many others. He has an extensive knowledge of cross-border transport regulations and operations. He also manages the FESARTA “TRANSIST Bureau”, which provides real-time assistance to carriers and cargo owners in resolving nontariff barriers (NTB)s on the corridors by direct interventions with authorities and officials.

Dr Nicholas Crisp

Dr Crisp is a medical doctor and public health specialist who has for many years focused on health management, consulting across the African continent. He was Head of the Department of Health and Welfare, Northern Province (Limpopo) from 1994 to 1999.

Dr Crisp was then a self-employed consultant and has worked in several African countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania. He led the establishment of the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), the transfer of the medicolegal mortuaries from police to health, the creation of the Forensic Pathology Services, and the establishment of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).

He is now Deputy Director General: National Health Insurance.

Nuran Idris

Nuran Idris joined GS1 Global Office in January 2020. She works in the Healthcare team as Healthcare Manager for Africa. She is based in Nairobi, Kenya and is originally from neighboring Tanzania.

Nuran’s main role at GS1 is to support countries in Africa in establishing pharmaceutical traceability systems using GS1 standards. Prior to joining GS1, she worked for multiple USAID funded projects in Tanzania and Malawi, with short-term engagements in Zambia and Ivory Coast. Nuran also briefly worked for one of Global Fund’s project in The Netherlands. Nuran’s experiences have seen her engage multiple stakeholders, from grassroots level up to senior levels in local and international settings. From the digital health angle, Nuran has conducted training and managed teams that deployed systems that have contributed positively to improvements in local supply chain operations.

With the power of standards, Nuran strongly believes that even more efficiencies and mostly, improved care to patients, can be achieved in developing countries.

Nuran is a Political Scientist and a global eHealth specialist by training.

Peter Varndell

Peter Varndell was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Business Foundation (NBF) on 17 September 2018.  He has been with NBF since 2014.

In his previous capacity as Programme Manager for the Africa Infrastructure Desk. His role involved providing leadership and technical expertise to help deliver the North South Corridor Rail Project This project is the cooperative efforts of seven rail operators in SADC, working together to increase intra-African trade.

Peter is a chartered civil engineer with 17 years of experience in infrastructure development. His extensive experience includes interventions in the transport, energy and water sectors and has involved a strong focus on economic development and stakeholder engagement. Peter is passionate about the development of Africa and seeks to develop public-private sector collaborations that realise inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Ralph Mathekga

Ralph Mathekga started his studies in Political Science, Law and Economic History at the University of the Witwatersrand, where he completed his BA degree. He subsequently completed an honours degree in Political Science, as well as an MA (Masters) degree in Political Science, at the same university. He has submitted his PhD thesis in politics at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) for examination. His thesis focuses on court challenges around affirmative action in South Africa and implications on equality and justice.Ralph worked as a Political Researcher with Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa),

where he focused on political, social and economic research. He also worked as a Lecturer at the University of Western Cape, teaching courses in political studies, as well as at the National Treasury (Ministry of Finance) in the Budget Office as a Senior Policy Analyst.Ralph is the author of the book ‘When Zuma Goes’ (Tafelberg, 2016) and ‘Ramaphosa’s Turn’ (Tafelberg, 2018). He is currently a News24 columnist and is often interviewed on radio and television on political matters. He is also a Senior at the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, where he leads a project on Revolutionary Constitutionalism.Ralph is the founding partner of Clear Content, which is a 100% black owned research and consulting company. The vision of the company is to deliver reflective research aimed at addressing social, political and economic challenges confronted in our societies.

Dr Ronald Whelan

Dr Ronald Whelan is Chief Commercial Officer of Discovery Health. A medical doctor by training with an MBA, he was Associate Partner at McKinsey from 2006 to 2013 during which time he co-led McKinsey’s healthcare practice across sub-Saharan Africa.
From 2013 to 2019 he was Partner and Head of Healthcare Investments at Spinnaker Growth Partners where he led investments and business development across a range of healthcare ventures and was founder of Healthforce, a leading telemedicine player in South Africa.
Dr Whelan has extensive experience in clinical and corporate healthcare spanning more than 20 years and 25 countries globally.

Stavros Nicolaou

Stavros Nicolaou is the Aspen Pharmacare Group’s Senior Executive responsible for Strategic Trade Development. Previously he was CEO of Aspen’s Export Business. Aspen is Africa’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer and a now world leader in Anaesthetics and injectable anti-coagulants. Aspen is one of South Africa’s most globalised multinational companies with a presence in over 50 geographies globally, with 26 manufacturing facilities across 6 continents. He was instrumental in introducing the first generic ARVs on the African Continent developed by Aspen, which has gone on to save hundreds of thousands of lives in South Africa and on the African Continent.

Nicolaou has over 30 years’ experience in the South African and International Pharmaceutical Industry and is a previous winner of the SA Institute of Marketing Management (IMM) Health Care Marketer of the year Award. He was a previous recipient Monte Rubenstein Award for proficiency in Pharmaceutics from the Wits University Pharmacy Faculty. He was awarded, the Order of the Lion of St Mark by the Greek Orthodox Pope and Patriarch, Theodoros II.  He has been inducted as a Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa (PSSA), one of the highest honours bestowed by the PSSA, and was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science in Medicine from Wits University.

Thomas Sim

Thomas Sim is the Group Chief Executive Officer of International Freight Consultants (S) Pte. Ltd. (a member of ‘The Topocean Group’, USA), an integrated international logistics service provider with its corporate head office in Los Angeles, USA. The company’s portfolio includes warehousing and distribution, multimodal transport, cross-border requirements and trade compliance.

Thomas joined the Singapore Logistics Association (SLA) in 2000 and served as the Deputy Chairperson of the SLA from 2004 to 2020. In addition, he also chairs its Human Capital Development Committee and is the Academic Director of The Logistics Academy (TLA).

He has also been elected as Senior Vice-President of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association (FIATA, Geneva/Switzerland), after serving over 18 years as the Chairperson of ABVT, FIATA (Advisory Body Vocational training), which oversees FIATA National Associations’ training programs in over 118 countries.  

Thomas holds a BSc. Degree in Aeronautical Engineering), and a Master’s degree in  Science, Logistics & Supply Chain Management. He completed his recent research on Educational Psychology, Curriculum Development, with Instructional Design as majors for his Master of Education (Training & Development) with Griffith University, Australia.

Timothy Thom

Timothy has always been interested in the risk and financial services industry, completing his BCom in Management Sciences, focusing on Supply Chain and Financial Management.

In 2017 Timothy joined Lombard as an underwriter in the General and Commercial Guarantees division, specialising in the logistics field in South Africa. Timothy sits on the SAAFF Management Committee along with fellow industry experts. In 2021, he was appointed as Senior Underwriter, servicing over 150 freight forwarding and clearing agents and assisting them by facilitating trade through guarantees.

Trudi Hartzenberg

Trudi Hartzenberg is the Executive Director of the Trade Law Centre (tralac). Her research areas include international trade, competition policy, industrial development and Africa’s integration agenda.

She has a special interest in capacity building.  She designs and delivers academic and tailored short courses on a broad range of trade-related topics including investment, competition policy and industrialisation.

Trudi currently serves on the WTO Chairs Advisory Committee and is a member of the Committee for Development Policy of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).