Topics: Development Policy
International Relations
Science and Technology
Regional focus: Global
Sub-Saharan Africa
Origin: Tanzania
Fellowship: Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow

Elsie S. Kanza is a Tanzanian economist who is a member of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Executive Committee and Special Adviser to its President. As the head of the WEF’s regional agenda on Africa since 2011, she has led numerous public-private collaboration initiatives to solve complex systemic challenges related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and African Union Agenda 2063. From 2006 to 2011, Kanza served as economic advisor to the President of Tanzania. Between 1997 and 2006, she worked in Tanzania’s finance ministry and its central bank.

Kanza has been recognized for her achievements in advancing economic development. In 2008, she became an Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellow, and in 2011 a WEF Young Global Leader. In 2020, the magazine Forbes Africa listed her as one of Africa’s 50 most powerful women. She has served on various boards, including those of the African Leadership Institute - South Africa, Mercy Corps Europe, The Nature Conservancy Africa Council, and the Uongozi Institute.

In 2015, Kanza was awarded a Doctorate of Business Administration (honors causa) from the University of Strathclyde for her role in driving transformative impact in Africa. She also holds a MA in Development Economics from the Center for Development Economics – Williams College; a MSc in Finance from the University of Strathclyde; and a BSc (cum laude) in International Business Administration from the United States International University – Africa.

Last updated: 2021