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Policy Roundtable: Prospects for U.S.-China-Africa Relations in the Trump Era

Event Details

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Policy Roundtable: Prospects for U.S.-China-Africa Relations in the Trump Era

  • Johns Hopkins SAIS: Kenney-Herter Auditorium 1740 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest Washington, DC, 20036 United States (map)

Policy Roundtable:

Prospects for U.S.-China-Africa Relations in the Trump Era

At the start of Barack Obama’s presidency in 2009, China surpassed the United States as Africa’s top trade partner. As Chinese engagement in Africa continued to diversify, President Obama ushered in an Africa foreign policy that included high-profile diplomatic events such as the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit as well as new economic commitments under Power Africa and Trade Africa. Now, early signs in Donald Trump’s presidency indicate the United States will likely retreat from Africa under an “America First” foreign policy. How will the respective roles of the United States and China in Africa change under these circumstances? Will existing opportunities for constructive trilateral collaboration remain, or will they need to be modified? How will African countries respond to these shifts? This roundtable will draw on the public and private sectors to explore the future of U.S.-China-Africa relations in an evolving geopolitical landscape.

A light lunch will be served from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. The roundtable discussion will take place from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm.

This event is free and open to the public.

An live overview of the event can be found here.

Keynote Address

Peter Lewis
Vice Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs, Johns Hopkins SAIS


Yun Sun
Senior Associate, East Asia Program, Stimson Center

Yun Sun is a Senior Associate with the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center. Her expertise is in Chinese foreign policy, U.S.-China relations and China's relations with neighboring countries and authoritarian regimes. From 2011 to early 2014, she was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, jointly appointed by the Foreign Policy Program and the Global Development Program, where she focused on Chinese national security decision-making processes and China-Africa relations. From 2008 to 2011, Yun was the China Analyst for the International Crisis Group based in Beijing, specializing on China's foreign policy towards conflict countries and the developing world. Prior to ICG, she worked on U.S.-Asia relations in Washington, DC for five years. Yun earned her master's degree in international policy and practice from George Washington University, as well as an MA in Asia Pacific studies and a BA in international relations from Foreign Affairs College in Beijing.


Mima Nedelcovych
President and CEO, Initiative for Global Development

Dr. Mima Nedelcovych is the President and CEO of the Initiative for Global Development (IGD), a nonprofit organization that engages corporate leaders to reduce poverty through business growth and investment in Africa. Prior to joining IGD, Dr. Nedelcovych was the Chairman of Schaffer International, the successor company to the Schaffer Global Group. Dr. Nedelcovych has provided consulting services to USAID, Carana Corporation, and Abt Associates to identify and advise investment opportunities in Africa, as well as with corporate clients such as International Green Structures, Illovo Sugar and JML Investments, and more to develop specific investments in emerging markets.

Dr. Nedelcovych served in the Administration of President George Bush from 1989 to 1993 as the U.S. Executive Director to the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. Prior to being named Executive Director to the AfDB, Dr. Nedelcovych held the position of Principal at Arthur Young's International Consulting Group, specializing in privatizations and private investments in Africa. At the beginning of his career he served as Peace Corps Country Director in Gabon, as Special Assistant to the Assistant Administrator for Africa at USAID, and as Special Projects Officer at the US Trade and Development Agency.

He received a BA in Political Science from Yale University, an MA in International Relations from George Washington University, and a PhD in Comparative Political and Economic Development from Florida State University.

John Goodman
Associate Director, Conflict Resolution Program, The Carter Center

Dr. John Goodman is associate director for Africa in the Conflict Resolution Program, with responsibility for the design, implementation, and evaluation of the program's mission and strategy in East Africa. Dr. Goodman comes to The Carter Center from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), where, since 2010, he served as delegate and head of sub-delegation (ad interim) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan. Mr. Goodman's responsibilities included representing the ICRC with government officials, armed actors, international agencies, and civil society; managing relief operations; visiting prisoners of war; and promoting international humanitarian law. In particular, in the DRC, Mr. Goodman directed the ICRC's programs in eight prisons and multiple transitory places of detention. In South Sudan, his portfolio included ICRC programs in health, civilian protection, and relief along the border with Sudan.

Prior to joining the ICRC, Dr. Goodman was an attorney in private practice in the United States, primarily in civil litigation on behalf of the immigrant community. He holds a bachelor's degree from Centre College, a master's and juris doctorate from the University of Kentucky, and a doctorate from the Graduate Institute, University of Geneva (Switzerland).

Bobby Pittman
Managing Partner, Kupanda Capital

Bobby J. Pittman is the Managing Partner at Kupanda Capital, an investment platform established to create, capitalize and scale pan-African  companies. He has helped found numerous companies, including, where he currently serves as Chairman. Prior to Kupanda Capital, Bobby was Vice President of Infrastructure, Private Sector and Regional Integration at the African Development Bank (AfDB). There he managed one of the largest portfolios in Africa, including more than $25 billion in active projects across 52 African countries. Pittman previously held senior positions at several U.S. government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Council, Treasury Department, State Department and White House. 

From 2006 to 2009, he served as the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs in the White House. He was the President's lead advisor on Africa issues as well as the President’s Africa Personal Representative (APR) to the G8. Africa Fund Manager magazine named Bobby to its inaugural 'Power 50' list of industry leaders who are shaping investment trends in Africa. He also serves on the boards of Africare and the Center for Global Development. Bobby studied economics at Florida State University and the University of Chicago.

Leocadia Zak
Former Director, U.S. Trade and Development Agency

Prof. Leocadia I. Zak is currently an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center teaching “International Project Finance.”  Until January 20, 2017, Ms. Zak served as Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, an independent federal agency that advances economic development interests in developing and middle-income countries while creating jobs in the United States.  She was appointed to the position by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March 2010.  During her tenure at USTDA, the agency also developed several innovative programs and partnerships including Making Global Local and the Global Procurement Initiative, a partnership with George Washington University Law School. Prior to serving as Director, Prof. Zak served in several Senior Executive Service positions at USTDA, including Deputy Director and General Counsel.

Prior to joining USTDA, Prof. Zak was a partner in the Washington and Boston offices of Mintz Levin, practicing in the areas of corporate, municipal and international finance.  Prof. Zak was also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law, Moring Center for Banking and Financial Law Studies. Prof. Zak received her B.A. from Mt. Holyoke College and in 2013 was named by MHC as a “Woman of Influence.”  She received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law.