The 2022 Africa Digital Innovation Competition gathers a network of resources — technology industry experts, mentors, funds, and more — to boost fledgling startups on the continent. From 1706 entrants across 50 African countries, entries were whittled down to 10 top Continental Finalists, who pitched for a spot in the Top 3 Finals. The Chamber is proud to have a distinguished group of judges to oversee the selection of the Continental Finalists. Meet our Continental Judges.
Director of Program Operations for Africa
U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF)
Timothy Nzioka is a Development Economist with over 30 years of development experience acquired working in several sub-Saharan African countries. He is currently Executive Director of Sustainable Interventions for Development Enhancement, a Pan-African organization that provides market-driven solutions to the private sector and local communities in Africa to enhance economic, social, and environmental development for sustainable wealth creation. In this capacity, Tim provides technical support to the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) as its Director of Program Operations for Africa leading partnership engagements with host governments as well as with public and private entities in Africa and the United States. In addition, Tim leads the conceptualization, design, and development of special initiatives across the USADF programming.
Timothy has a master’s degree in Entrepreneurial Studies from the United Kingdom and undergraduate qualification in Business and Economics. He is an alumnus of the London Business School having successfully completed an Executive Leadership Program at the prestigious learning institution.
Senior Vice President
Business Strategy and Government Affairs
Leila Ndiaye is Senior Vice President for Business Strategy and Government Affairs, Cybastion. In this role, she participates in the shaping and operations of business strategies aimed at increasing revenues. She is also responsible for monitoring and ensuring effective relationships with public and private sector stakeholders. With over 20 years of experience as an African affairs expert and accomplished senior policy and business strategist, Ndiaye has a proven track record in policy design and implementation at the highest level of African governments and the private sector.
Leila Ndiaye served as the Senior Director of Policy for African Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In that position, she developed, promoted, and executed the US-Africa Business Center’s program of work relating to trade policy and investment between the United States and African countries. She initiated and managed the US-ECOWAS Business Initiative and spearheaded the Chamber’s program in Western and Central Sub-Saharan Africa, from Angola to Mauritania. Prior to joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, she was the Special advisor to the President of Cote d’Ivoire. She advised the Head of State on a range of policy and economic issues to ensure that all duties were carried out in the country’s best interest. Earlier in her career, Ndiaye held positions in the lobbying arena with Bayh, Connaughton, Fernsteinhem, and Malone, the law firm of former Senator Birch Bayh, in Washington, D.C., where she developed and managed the Africa portfolio, and at the World Bank as a consultant. The Republic of Burkina Faso decorated Ndiaye as Knight of the National Order of the Republic of Burkina Faso. In addition, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented Leila Ndiaye with the “US-Africa Business Center Outstanding Leaders’ Award 2018” in recognition of her exemplary leadership in US-Africa relations.
Leila Ndiaye holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the School of International Service (SIS), at The American University in Washington DC, earned a Master of Arts in Diplomacy from the Diplomatic Academy of London at the University of Westminster, and a Ph.D. in International Relations and Diplomacy, from the Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Stratégiques (CEDS), Paris. She received a certificate from the Thayer Leaders Development Group (TLDG) at West Point for the “Women Leading from the Front Lines” Leadership Academy.
Start-ups Lead, West and East Africa
EduAbasi Chukwunweike is an accomplished Business Development and Strategy professional, incredibly passionate about coaching and mentoring new businesses while providing them the tools and platform for maximum growth. Highly dynamic Cloud Technology Solutions Sales Executive with a history of over-delivery in planning and building successful road maps for ISVs and Start-Ups.
EduAbasi Chukwunweike finished top of her software engineering class, then completed her master’s degree in informatics and took some other IT-related courses to set herself up perfectly for a career in Information Technology. She started her IT career with Microsoft as a Cloud Solution Specialist during which she was given the award of ‘Most Valuable Player for the Enterprise commercial segment. After which She moved on to manage the start-up/ISV ecosystem for Microsoft west Africa. Since she commenced her career, EduAbasi has delivered consistently on her duties and currently serves as the Start-up lead for Microsoft West and East Africa. Upon taking up her current role as the Start-up lead for Microsoft West and East Africa, she has helped many businesses through their digital transformation journey, set up their monetization strategy, improve profitability and position themselves favorably for funding.
Through her many years in the industry, she discovered that gender bias was a norm with which people had become comfortable with. Her passion to see more women in technology occupying lead roles and C-level positions drove her to found an organization called Wentors; It is a global organization strategically set up to create more opportunities for women in technology by giving them a platform that connects them with female mentors in the industry. Wentors is an exciting chapter in EduAbasi’s life and with time, her experience as the founder of Wentors would serve to inspire more women in technology.
Rick C. Wade
Senior Vice President
Strategic Alliances and Outreach
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Rick C. Wade is senior vice president of Strategic Alliances and Outreach at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Wade develops and implements programs and initiatives to help the Chamber create new business relationships and partnerships across diverse audiences. He also provides counsel on policy issues and leads special projects. Wade’s wealth of knowledge and experience in both the public and private sectors enables him to give a megaphone to the voice of business across the country and share the positive impacts of the free enterprise system.
Before joining the Chamber, Wade was principal of The Wade Group, a strategic communications and global business development firm, and was a partner at Harves Investment Group, a consultancy that facilitated foreign direct investment into the U.S.
Previously, Wade was a senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to former Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke where he was a liaison to the White House, businesses, trade associations, civic organizations, and local governments. He was a member of the White House task forces on Puerto Rico, Small Business Contracting, Automobile Recovery, Military Families, and Historically Black Colleges & Universities. He also served on the Interagency Business Council and former Vice President Joe Biden’s Task Force on Middle-Class America and worked with the White House on implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Wade also worked with Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to foster regional economic development in distressed areas, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on expanding broadband to rural and urban America, the Minority Business Development Agency to create jobs through the growth of minority-owned businesses, and the Census Bureau on executing the 2010 decennial census.
In addition, Wade was instrumental in expanding opportunities for U.S. companies to sell their products in the global market. He represented the U.S. at international trade forums including the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum, and the Conference on the Caribbean and Central America. He served as special envoy to the Caribbean, oversaw private sector initiatives in Haiti following the 2010 devastating earthquake, and led trade missions around the world.
He was a senior adviser to the 2008 Obama for America campaign and is a member of the Democratic National Committee. He was an executive at Hoffman-La Roche and Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina. He also had experience at the South Carolina House of Representatives, the Cabinet of the Governor, and the Office of the President at the University of South Carolina.
Wade received his B.S. from the University of South Carolina and an M.P.A. from Harvard University. He was awarded honorary doctorates from Benedict College and South Carolina State University and has received numerous awards for exemplary leadership and public service.