Opening Speech: Development Leaders Conference 2019

 In speech

President Jin Liqun, President Ahmed, Distinguished leaders, guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It is an absolute honor to welcome you all to this conference. Thank you in particular to those who have travelled literally across the globe to be here. I certainly hope that you will return to your home countries enriched with new knowledge and ideas, better networks, as well as a little taste of China’s long and fascinating culture.

For those of you that are not familiar with Development Reimagined, we are an African wholly foreign owned consultancy with our headquarters in Beijing. We pride ourselves for being able to offer impartial advice, for independent analysis, and for being a private sector organization wholly devoted to international development.

Our Chinese name“睿纳新” – Rui Na Xin (down down neutral) – means far-sighted and innovative. And innovation is a fundamental goal for us. At Development Reimagined, our ambition is to bring new solutions to the complexity of poverty reduction and sustainable development, drawing from experience all over the world – including China – as well as piloting new ideas. Our goal to do development differently, to innovation, is exactly why when we were asked to support the organization of this conference, we agreed immediately. CGD and AIIB also fully embrace this idea for innovation and we have and will see it coming out through the agenda over the next two days.

However, beyond this goal of innovation, there are three commitments I want to share with you today. They are three commitments that I ask all experts working in Development Reimagined to sign up to – from the most experienced industry figures to high-flying graduates just kicking off their careers. I hope to also set the scene for our discussions over the next two days, as development leaders.

The first commitment is to empowerment and the agency of our ultimate clients – poor people. Those of us that work in development often forget that development involves real people. Poor people are not “them”. They are “us”. We need a commitment to an “us” not “them” approach. This commitment is reflected in the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed in 2015. The UNSDGs moved in this direction by listening better – and with a larger number of goals certainly recognize and reflect what poor people need a great deal more than their predecessors the Millennium Development Goals. Now, we as development leaders can be more empathetic in aid giving and design, we have more freedom and innovation in design of investment projects and capacity building. We are becoming more realistic about what aid can achieve, but we still have the potential to achieve better aid, by listening and thinking more. We need to keep asking is this really what recipients want? Is this what recipients need? The task for us as development leaders, is not to impose so-called “best practice”, but to work together to identify good approaches to development cooperation, from the ground-up – going beyond giving voice to giving agency to the poorest – at all stages of the development process. It’s fundamental.

The second commitment is to a holistic approach. This takes it starting point that aid is not the only answer to development. Now, pretty much all of us in this room will agree with this. Aid is important, but other financial flows are also crucial – from remittances by individuals to loans from multilateral development banks. But finance is also not the only answer to development. Solving economic and social problems from poor to high-income countries requires examining structures – of trade, investment, in people. Non-tariff barriers, scholarships to peacekeeping troops also matter, even intellectual property rights matter! That’s why we believe in a holistic approach – looking at ALL areas of development, beyond aid, and what role ALL actors can play – not just governments, and not just certain parts of the world. That’s why it is great to see development leaders from foundations and banks, from academic institutions as well as aid agencies in this room. We have more potential to think holistically, look at structures as well as flows.

The third and final commitment is to diversity – in gender, ethnicity, social background, geography, age and more. In the teams we build and bring together, in the networks we build and organizations we work with, diversity is the bedrock for realizing the other commitments – agency, holistic approaches and our goal of innovation. No one person can come up with the right solution. No one culture has all the right answers. In development and international relations we particularly need to recognize the parallels across different countries. For instance, there are parallels between cash benefits to mothers in the UK and cash transfers to women and girls in Malawi, and having diverse teams that have knowledge and experience of these systems helps us to have these conversations and improve on both. Diversity enables this analysis, the critical thinking to deliver better results. That’s why it is great to see development leaders from China, Australia, UK, Mexico – all over the world in this room. It is also why it is great to witness and work on trilateral cooperation projects, as well as cross-country partnerships between think-tanks, universities or businesses. The diversity that underlies these partnerships is crucial.

President Ahmed, President Jin Liqun, distinguished guests – it is in the spirit of diversity that our three teams at CGD, AIIB and DR have worked so well to organize this conference and I would like to thank them profusely for all their hard work.

Indeed, development leadership is hard work. It is only through embracing the complexity of multiple commitments and goals that can we find sustainable solutions. As you all share and engage in the discussions over the next few days, as you head home afterwards to continue to shape the institutions you work in, I hope the three commitments we use in our work – commitment to “us not them”, to holistic approaches, to diversity and our goal of innovation – will be and remain at the forefront of your minds. Thank you all for joining us!


This speech was given by Hannah Ryder, CEO of Development Reimagined at the Development Leaders Conference, supported by Development Reimagined and Co-Hosted by The Centre for Global Development  and The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, in Beijing, China, on 13th and 14th November 2019.


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Research Analyst

Edmond is a research analyst who is passionate about sustainable development, innovation, and the environment. Passionate about climate financing, he firmly believe there is a more reliable system to promote equality, growth, and welfare in societies without affecting the ecosystem. Through his skills, knowledge and experienced gained over 7 years, he wants to make an impact in the world of development. Edmond holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Korea Development Institute and a BA Degree (Honors) in Business from University of Derby.


    Founder and CEO

Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE's International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.


Deputy Director

Leah Lynch is Deputy Director of Development Reimagined (DR), and head of the China office. Leah has over 10 years of experience in development and has lived in China for over 8 years. Leah has also travelled extensively around Asia and Africa for research. Leah supports the strategic direction of the team across China, with a mission to deliver high quality research on sustainable development and poverty reduction. Leah is also Chair of the Sustainability Forum at the British Chamber of Commerce in China, providing direction on sustainability initiatives for British and Chinese business. Leah has also consulted on various evaluations on UK aid (ICAI) and is a specialist on development cooperation from the UK and China. Leah has also consulted on various UN projects, including providing support to the UN China team during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Prior to DR, Leah was at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China, supporting the UN’s portfolio on communication strategies, China’s South- South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Before UNDP, Leah lived and worked in Kenya developing sustainable water policies for the Kenyan government.


China-Africa Policy Analyst

Yike Fu is a Policy Analyst and has been responsible for leading numerous areas of work, including on debt analysis in Africa and beyond, and China-Africa trade and investment logistics and analysis. She is the co-author of “African Debt Guide”, in which she challenged the narrative that Africa is in the midst of a new debt crisis by analysing data back to the 1970s and adopting new metrics to present the real story behind the data. She also developed a benchmark to compare the financial distribution of development partners such as the UK, US, Japan, France and China in Africa. Prior to her role at DR she worked at the International Finance Corporation and African Union Representational Mission to the US. She holds a Masters in International Affairs from George Washington University.


Research Analyst

Judith is a Research and Policy Analyst, where she specialises in Africa-China relations, international development, and diplomacy. During her time at Development Reimagined, Judith has co-authored several articles published in The Diplomat on debt and China-Barbados relations and was quoted by China Daily in a piece on Women Rights in China. Previously, Judith worked as a research analyst for an Advocate and Commissioner and Oats office in Kenya.


Policy Analyst

Ovigwe specialises in geopolitics with particular reference to Africa in a changing Global Order. He is adept at critically analysing the politics of contemporary development processes and providing insight into the geopolitical interests that influence them. His work includes research, publications, tailored briefings and advising on global and regional trends, and issues at the nexus of geopolitics and development. Ovigwe appears frequently in media around the world such as Al Jazeera, TRT World, SABC, CGTN, BBC Radio, and other platforms.


Policy Analyst

Jing leads China-African health and agriculture cooperation research at Development Reimagined, having managed our FOCAC Policy Analysis and Advocacy project. She is also the co-author of “China-Africa Health Cooperation under FOCAC Umbrella”, in which she analysed China’s commitments around health cooperation since the first FOCAC summit and deepdived into four African countries’ health overview, challenges and cooperation with China as cases studies. Before DR, Jing worked at GIZ Cambodia on M&E of a disability advocacy project. She also worked as a translator with Chinese medical team in Benin.


Trade Policy Analyst

Patrick is an International Trade Policy and Trade Law Expert with over 5 years of experience. His expertise includes trade law, trade policy analysis and regional integration. He is currently engaged with Development Reimagined as a Senior Trade Analyst and was the lead author of Development Reimagined's recent Report on Africa-China Relations titled "From China-Africa to Africa- China: A Blue Print for a Green and Inclusive Continent-Wide Strategy Towards China." and “Reimaging FOCAC Going Forward.” Patrick has previously consulted for the East African Community, UNECA and for the Kenya Ministry of Trade.


Senior Policy Analyst 

Rosemary is our Senior Policy Analyst. She is a skilled policy analyst and has previously worked as a UK civil servant. She is studying Human Rights at Birkbeck, University of London with a research focus on international law in the context of health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.


Project Manager and Africa-China Communication Assistant

Jade is a Project Manager for Development Reimagined’s flagship project Africa Unconstrained, which focuses on financing needs and debt vulnerabilities of African countries. Her research focuses on China-Africa development finance alongside debt vulnerabilities, infrastructure needs and South-South cooperation. She has worked with a breadth of stakeholders from China, Africa and the wider international community, including governments, private sector, NGOs and civil society. Her writing has appeared in a number of publications, including The Africa Report, The China-Africa Project, The Diplomat and more. Jade holds a Master’s in China and Globalisation studies from King’s College London.


Programme Manager

Rosie is the Project Manager of Africa Reimagined (AR) at Development Reimagined (DR) where she supports high-end African brands with entering the Chinese market by operating services such as trademark protection, Chinese market research, Chinese partnership building, and Africa to China logistical support and import/export services. Rosie has worked with DR for over two years now with proven success in helping high-end African brands navigate the Chinese market. She is extremely passionate about her work because more African brands selling in the Chinese marketplace means African countries can export MORE value-added goods, create MORE jobs and foster MORE innovation in African countries.

Rosie is also alumni of the School of International Studies at Peking University in Beijing where she is also an editor at the Peking Africa Think Tank. PATT is led by a diverse group of scholars who specialise in African Studies within the context of Sino-Africa relations.



Lauren has lived in six countries from the Americas to Europe and Asia and speaks both French and Spanish proficiently. At Development Reimagined, Lauren’s research focuses on climate action both in the Asia-Pacific and in Africa, and how countries are using tools such as SDGs and Covid-19 action to build a more climate-resilient future. She holds a Masters in International Relations from Leiden University.



Etsehiwot holds a Masters’s degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics. She has diverse experience in humanitarian and development issues by working in both multilateral organizations and international non-governmental organizations. Etsehiwot is currently a consultant focusing on the SDGs and development finance.


Economist Consultant

Dibekulu is an economist by training. He holds an MSc in International Development Studies from Palacky University Olomouc, an MSc in Development Economics from the University of Clermont Auvergne, and an MSc in Economics, Finance, and International Integration from the University of Pavia. At Development Reimagined, he works as an Economist consultant. He has strong data analysis skills, with research interests centring around development finance, impact assessment, food security, and agricultural insurance.


Project Manager

Osaru is a health professional with an MSc in Health Systems Policy and an interest in women’s health and population management. At Development Reimagined, she applies her health sector experience to global health research and collating locally applicable development insights from China.


Research Analyst

Ferdinando’s research at Development Reimagined is centred on South-South Cooperation dynamics, specifically on the analysis of Chinese investment and debt flows in Africa and their linkages to African industrialisation. He is currently a Yenching Scholar at Peking University, after having graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MPhil in Development Studies.


Research Analyst

David is a Research and data analyst at Development Reimagined. His scholarly focus is mostly on interdisciplinary research in demographic economics and development with interests in migration, economic development and policy, education, health and subjective well-being. He is currently a PhD scholar at Nelson Mandela University from which he also holds Economics and Statistics and respectively.


Research Analyst Kenya

Ivory is a Kenyan lawyer with experience in policy research and analysis. She also supports the communications team at DR. Ivory speaks English, Swahili and French.


Research And Data Analyst China 

Joy Ene is a Research and Data Analyst at DR. Joy is passionate about African/global development, poverty eradication and trade policies between underdeveloped and developing countries. She is also a fourth-year student of International Economics and Trade at the  Liaoning University, Shenyang, China. She serves as the President of the Student Union, Liaoning University, International Students chapter.


Research Analyst 

Chensi Li is a research analyst. She has previously worked for local NGOs in Nigeria and Cameroon and think-tanks in China.  Her research areas include Sino-African relations, African foreign affairs, public diplomacy, state-building and national governance.

Yixin Yu

Research Analyst 

Yixin is a Junior Research Analyst and her focus areas is on public-private partnership and entrepreneurship. She has over three years of working experience in both private and public sectors in Ethiopia. She was the China Liaison Officer for project ‘Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa’ at International Trade Centre, where she accumulated rich experience in investment and trade promotion


Founder and CEO

Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE's International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.