The Ebola crisis in western Africa has prompted the postponement of “The Future of Development and Business in Africa,” an Aug. 4 forum that was to feature Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The event, sponsored by the university and The Coca-Cola Company, has yet to be rescheduled. The forum’s focus was private investment in Africa, with a look at its role in health and education development and poverty reduction, emerging opportunities and big business, and the ability of the United States government and other international organizations to provide support.
Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank, and Nathan Kalumbu, president of Coca-Cola’s Eurasia and Africa Group, were also set to speak alongside Sirleaf in a panel discussion moderated by BBC World News Today presenter Zeinab Badawi. African Studies Program Director Scott Taylor, Steven Radelet, the Coca-Cola endowed Global Human Development chair, and Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation Executive Director Sonal Shah were also scheduled to present at the Gaston Hall event. Invitations had been issued to Ian Khama, president of Botswana, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemarian Desalegn.
The current Ebola outbreak, emerging in March, has been classified as the worst of its kind, with a death toll of over 700. Two American aid workers have been infected and the Peace Corps is removing more than 300 volunteers from the area. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an advisory against travel to the affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Sirleaf, who delivered the School of Foreign Service commencement address in 2010, was due in Washington, D.C., for a United States-Africa summit that begins Monday, but has cancelled her attendance, as have the leaders of Guinea and Sierra Leone.
The World Health Organization announced a $100 million aid plan today, while the CDC will send 50 experts to the afflicted region.
“Obviously, this dreadful virus has overtasked our public health facilities and capabilities. The nature of the virus and its rapid spread throughout Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, attacking, as it has, the way of life of the peoples of the Mano River Basin, have posed national, regional and international threats to public health and safety of the gravest proportions,” Sirleaf said in a government address. “This is unprecedented.”