Our Team in South Africa

Nelson Muffuh

Nelson Muffuh

UN Resident Coordinator in South Africa
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Nelson Muffuh of Cameroon as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in South Africa, with the host Government’s approval. He takes up his post on 1 December. Nelson Muffuh brings more than 20 years of experience in international relations and negotiations, political and development issues at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters, regional and country levels.

Prior to his appointment as United Nations Resident Coordinator, Nelson Muffuh served as Chief of Staff and Principal Strategic Adviser to the UN Deputy Secretary-General since 2017. He led the overall management and guidance of staff, focusing on the acceleration of systemwide and whole-of-society efforts on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and on the repositioning the UN development system and strengthening the Resident Coordinators system.

As lead strategic adviser and policy coordinator on sustainable development political and partnerships interventions, Mr. Muffuh helped shape and advance the UN’s comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, advocate and organize summits on the SDGs, Financing for Development, and Climate Action. He was instrumental in convening and coordinating the efforts of launching the Spotlight Initiative on violence against women and girls, the Decade of Action for the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and the Global Crisis Response Group to address the impacts on food, energy, and finance due to the war in Ukraine.

Prior to this, Mr. Muffuh led and coordinated stakeholder engagement, outreach, and global strategic partnerships efforts to inform the post-2015 development policy process, whose outcome was the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its accompanying SDGs to succeed the Millennium Development Goals.

Nelson Muffuh started his UN career with the UN Development Programme-UN Millennium Campaign, then UN Population Fund in Africa, where he acquired extensive experience in programme management, multistakeholder collaborative interventions, partnerships and communications, as well as advocacy and mobilization. Before that, he served as a Senior Programme and Advocacy Advisor for Christian Aid, and Programme Coordinator for the African Liberal Network-Westminster Foundation for Democracy and Transparency International Secretariat.

Mr. Muffuh studied political science and international relations at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, and development cooperation at Sussex University, United Kingdom.
He is married and has two children.
 Christine Muhigana

Christine Muhigana

Christine Muhigana took up her duties as UNICEF Representative in South Africa in September 2020. She was previously the UNICEF Representative in the Central African Republic (CAR) for three years. Between 2013 and 2017, she was UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for the West and Central Africa region based in Dakar, Senegal. Overall, she has more than 30 years of experience in the UN.
She holds a master’s degree in Political Science and International Relations as well as a master’s degree in Maritime and Air Law from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.
Abigail Noko

Abigail Noko

Regional Representative
Abigail Noko is the Regional Representative of the Regional Office of OHCHR in Southern Africa. She has worked at OHCHR for more than 20 years in various capacities. Prior to her current posting, she oversaw OHCHR’s work from headquarters in east and southern Africa and the African Union and undertook special assignments in Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Previously she was Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, the adviser on HIV and worked on external relations and donor relations. Before joining OHCHR, she worked with UNHCR and in the private sector.

Aleta Miller

Aleta Miller

UN Women
UN Women Multi-Country Representative, South Africa
Aleta Miller served as Country Representative at UN Women Afghanistan since April 2018 and prior was the UN Women Representative of the Fiji Multi-Country Office, covering 14 Pacific Island nations.
Aleta has extensive experience in Women’s Rights, Human Rights, Refugee Rights, Public Health, and International Development, gained through more than 25 years of professional engagement, including with UN Women, UNFPA and UNAIDS, and several NGOs and Governments.

In addition to the above, she served in Myanmar, China, Hong Kong, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, as well as New York, and her native Australia. Aleta is a Clinical Psychologist (Australian registered, non-practicing status) and holds a Master's degree in International Public Health, along with undergraduate degrees in Behavioral Science and in Occupational Health.
Anne Githuku-Shongwe

Anne Githuku-Shongwe

Director, UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa
Anne Githuku-Shongwe is the Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa. She has 20 years of experience as a senior international development professional, including with the United Nations Development Programme, across Africa and in management consulting in the United States of America.

Her last post was as the Representative for UN Women’s South Africa multicountry office, which is responsible for women's empowerment and gender equality in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa.

Ms Githuku-Shongwe is an award-winning social entrepreneur and founder of AROES, a digital and gamification learning enterprise, and is a thought leader on the future of learning.

Ms Githuku-Shongwe and AFROES have received multiple awards, including the prestigious Schwab Foundation/World Economic Forum Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 award and a national award, the Order of the Grand Warrior, from the President of Kenya.

She is an author and contributor to several books, including The write to speak: a collection of stories by African women leaders, Kenya@50 and Turning a crisis into an opportunity: the HIV response in Lesotho. She is also a board member and grand juror of the World Summit Awards for the United Nations Information Society and a former Global Ambassador of the Vital Voices leadership programme.

She has a masters degree in international development from the American University, a certificate in social innovation from the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, a certificate in the art of large-scale systems change for social entrepreneurship from Harvard University and a management certificate from Jones International University.
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

Ayodele Odusola

UNDP Resident Representative
Ayodele Odusola assumed his role as UNDP Resident Representative in June 2019. Prior to this appointment, he was the Chief Economist and Head of the Strategy and Analysis for the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa team in New York. He is no stranger to South Africa having previously served as Senior Economic Adviser for UNDP South Africa. Prior to joining the United Nations, Odusola worked with the Presidency of Nigeria (1993-2015). Odusola has lectured in several universities in Africa and has published over 50 articles in national and international journals, editing and authoring books as well as technical reports. In 2001, he was the African Visiting Scholar to the International Monetary Fund.

Dr. Babagana Ahmadu

Dr. Babagana Ahmadu

FAO Representative
Dr. Babagana Ahmadu is FAO Representative in South Africa as of 1st January 2023. Prior to this post, he served as FAO Representative in three countries in Africa, Namibia, the Republic of Gambia, and Sudan. He previously worked as a Livestock Development Officer in the Livestock Credit Unit of the Nigerian Agricultural Cooperative and Rural Development Bank in Kaduna, Nigeria.

Babagana also worked as an Assistant Lecturer at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Maiduguri in Nigeria, and was appointed to the post of Lecturer at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Maiduguri. He was the pioneer Director for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission (AUC –DREA) and was instrumental in developing policies and strategic frameworks on leading global issues in many countries across Africa. As the first substantive Director for the AUC – DREA, Babagana provided the overall leadership, as well as managed all Heads of Divisions/Specialized Technical Offices under the department in different parts of Africa.

He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Veterinary Medicine (Livestock Development) from the University of Zambia, a Master of Science in Tropical Animal Production and Health from the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria.
Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi

Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi

UNFPA Representative in South Africa
Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi is UNFPA Representative in South Africa effective 1 August 2022. Dr. Ndyanabangi has previously served as the Regional Director ad interim for UNFPA, East and Southern Africa.
Over the last twelve years, Bannet has provided leadership as Deputy Representative and Representative to the UNFPA Nigeria, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Liberia country offices. Throughout this time, he successfully drove the implementation of country programmes, improved government relationships and enhanced resource mobilization efforts. Prior to joining UNFPA, Bannet held several Programme Management and leadership roles with Management Sciences for Health, Commonwealth Community and GIZ.
Bannet holds a Medical Degree, a Master’s Degree in Public Health and PhD in Public health from the University of Heidelberg. He holds a Diploma in Medical Specialties from the Institute of Tropical Medicine and a Certificate in Administrative/Managerial Science from the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

Dr. Owen Kaluwa

Dr Owen Laws Kaluwa is specialized in Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine from the Free University of Berlin in Germany. Prior to his appointment as WHO Representative for South Africa, he was WHO Representative for Ghana, WHO Representative for Swaziland, and Regional Adviser for HIV/AIDS for the Africa Region. Before joining WHO, Dr Kaluwa worked in his home country of Malawi as the Head of Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation of HIV/AIDS Programmes at the Ministry of Health, National Coordinator of HIV/AIDS Strategic Planning, and as Programme Director of the National AIDS Commission.

Eva Kiwango, UNAIDS Country Director

Eva Kiwango

UNAIDS Country Director
Prior to her appointment as UNAIDS Country Director, Ms. Eva Kiwango served for four year as the UNAIDS Country Director for Mozambique and brings over 24 years of experience in policy, planning, technical assistance, program management, implementation and monitoring and evaluation.
She has served the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) since 2004, with postings in South Africa, Switzerland and Mozambique.

While in Mozambique, Ms. Kiwango performed multiple roles in supporting national efforts to expand access to HIV prevention and treatment, strengthen human rights advocacy, foster civil society engagement and mobilize HIV financing. As such, in partnership with the Government and civil society organizations,Ms. Kiwango contributed to the mobilization of over 4 billion USD from PEPFAR and the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria during her tenure.

She also brought her practical multidisciplinary and multi-layered systems -thinking and leadership to guide an expanded UN system wide HIV response that addresses multiple intersectional inequalities. In line with the peace-development and humanitarian nexus approach. Ms. Kiwango worked with the government, communities, and development partners to strengthen collaboration between the emergency response programming and the HIV response during cyclone Idai and Kenneth and on-going humanitarian crises in Cabo Delgado province.

Before joining UNAIDS, Ms. Kiwango worked for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) African Centre for Gender in Ethiopia starting in 2001,providing technical support to Sudan, the Seychelles, SADC, Uganda and Zambia.
Ms. Kiwango has also worked in Tanzania for USAID, Danida on rural community development poverty, health and education initiatives, and as a consultant for the Tanzanian Ministry of Health where she contributed to strengthening results-based programming in the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Programme. Ms. Kwango has a MSc. in Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics (1995). She is a national of Tanzania and is fluent in English and Kiswahili and proficient in Portuguese.
Francesco Maria Rispoli

Francesco Maria Rispoli

Head, IFAD Southern Africa Multi-Country Office and Country Director
Francesco Rispoli, a national of Italy, is the IFAD Country Director for Rwanda. Prior to his appointment, Mr Rispoli served as Country Director for Rwanda and Tanzania. Rispoli worked as the Senior Technical Specialist in Inclusive Rural Financial Services at IFAD. Before joining IFAD, he worked with UNDP Kenya and in a consulting firm providing technical assistance to the European Commission.
Jane Marie Ongolo UNODC

Jane Marie Ongolo

UNODC Representative of the Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSAF).
Ms. Jane Marie Ongolo (Kenya) newly appointed UNODC’s Representative of the Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSAF).
Jane Marie has over twenty-five years of relevant substantive and managerial experience in national and international positions of increasing responsibility, including work at the continental level with the African Union Commission.

During her career, she has served in various capacities including: Head of Social Welfare, Vulnerable Groups, Drug Control and Crime Prevention with the African Union Commission (AUC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia since 2018; Programme Manager, AU Plan of Action on Drug Control and Crime Prevention with the African Union Commission (2010-2018); National Programme Officer (HIV/AIDS) and National Project Officer (Drug Abuse and HIV Prevention) with UNODC ROEA in Nairobi (2005-2010); Regional Governance Advisor, East and Central Africa with the British Council in Kenya (2003-2005); National Programme Manager with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Kenya (1999-2003); Development Officer, DFID Civil Society Umbrella Project with the British Council in Kenya (1998-1999); Programme Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer with Sinaga Women and Child Labour Resource Centre (NGO) in Kenya (1995-1998); and Children ́s Officer with the Office of the Vice President and Ministry of Home Affairs and National Heritage, Department of Child (Government) in Kenya (1991- 1995).

Jane Marie holds a doctorate in Business & Administration from the Bulacan State University and a Master’s degree in Development Studies from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. She is fluent in English and has a basic knowledge of French.
Director of the ILO Decent Work Team for Eastern and Southern Africa

Joni Musabayana

Director of the ILO Decent Work Team for Eastern and Southern Africa
Dr Joni Musabayana is the Director of the ILO Decent Work Team for Eastern and Southern Africa based in Pretoria covering 18 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa technically and five countries politically and administratively. During his career with ILO, he notably served as He has worked as a project staff in Harare (1992 – 2002), Chief Technical Adviser in Geneva (2002 – 2004), Global Coordinator of Start and Improve Your Business programme in Addis Ababa (2004 – 2009), Enterprise Specialist in Pretoria (2009 – early 2016) and as Deputy Director of the ILO Pretoria Decent Work Team and Country office.
Dr. Joni Musabayana has a Doctorate in Business Leadership from UNISA School of Business leadership, Masters in Business Administration (MBA), and a BSc in Political Science and Public Administration from the University of Zimbabwe.

Lily Sanya, Chief of Mission for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) South Africa

Lily Sanya

Country Director
Lily Sanya took up her appointment as the IOM Chief of Mission in South Africa in January 2019. Prior to this, she was Chief of Mission to Zimbabwe from March 2016 to January 2019. Ms Sanya has worked with IOM for the past 22 years in several operations in sub-Saharan Africa and in central Asia.
In July 2004, she temporarily served as a Regional Trainer for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). She also served as an Electoral Support for the IOM’s Out of Country Voting Process for Iraq in Syria and the UN Assistance Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for the Liberian elections.
Ms. Lydia Zigomo

Lydia Zigomo

Regional Director, UNFPA Regional Office for East and Southern Africa
Ms. Lydia Zigomo is the Regional Director for UNFPA, East and Southern Africa. Ms. Zigomo provides strategic oversight, support and technical expertise to 23 Country Offices and partners in the region, who work on the ground to improve people’s lives by equipping them with policy advice, training and support. A human rights lawyer and international development and humanitarian leader, Ms. Zigomo has 30 years’ experience in women and children’s rights, constitutional reform, health systems strengthening, sexual and reproductive health, HIV and AIDS, gender justice, women’s economic empowerment and economic justice, including in humanitarian settings.

She previously served with Oxfam International as Global Programmes Director in Nairobi, Kenya, and as Regional Director for the Horn, East and Central Africa. Before this, she was Regional Director in East Africa for Water Aid.
Ms. Zigomo began her career as a solicitor in Harare, Zimbabwe, before moving into the development sector in 1998. She holds a Master’s degree in Civil Liberties and Human Rights Law from the University of Leicester, UK, and a Bachelor of Laws Honours degree from the University of Zimbabwe.
Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly World Bank

Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly

World Bank
World Bank, Country Director Africa
Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, a French national from Martinique, is the Country Director for South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini.

Since joining the World Bank in 1994, Marie-Nelly has held a variety of positions focused on public enterprise restructuring, support to private sector development, regional integration, and management of the oil sector. Marie-Nelly has held a number of leadership positions, including Country Director in the Maghreb and Malta (2015-2019), Country Director for Nigeria (2011-2015) and Country Director for the two Congos (Brazzaville and DRC) from 2008 to 2011. Marie-Nelly was also Director of the World Bank Group Program for the Chad Petroleum and the Chad-Cameroon pipeline project (2004-2007) and Director of the regional integration program in Africa from 2000 to 2004.

Marie-Nelly is a Certified Public Accountant, a graduate of the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Nantes (France) and Bowling Green University (Ohio, USA). She has also completed several management programs at Harvard University in the US, worked for many international firms and was advisor to several governments before joining the World Bank.
UNIC Director

Masimba Tafirenyika

Masimba Tafirenyika, a national of Zimbabwe, is the Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Pretoria, an office that provides communications services to UN in South Africa. He assumed his current position in 2017. Prior to this, he was the head of the Africa Section in the UN Department of Global Communications and Editor-in-Chief of its Africa Renewal, the UN’s Secretariat’s premier magazine on African developmental issues. Previously, he served as the Officer-in-Charge of the Pretoria Information Centre from 2008 to 2009, and as Deputy Director from 2006 to 2008. From 1998 to 2006, Mr. Tafirenyika worked at UN Headquarters as an information analyst before joining peacekeeping operations and peacebuilding missions in West Africa responsible for strategic communications and subsequently overseeing peacekeeping missions from UN Headquarters in Liberia and Sierra Leone. He has a Master of Arts degree in International Affairs from Columbia University in New York, the United States, and a Bachelor of Arts honours degree in Economics from the University of Zimbabwe.
Meseret Teklemariam Zemedkun

Meseret Teklemariam Zemedkun

Head of the UN Environment Office in South Africa
Meseret Teklemariam Zemedkun (Ph.D) has over 25 years’ professional experience in Earth and natural science, Energy Management, Project management. She holds a Ph.D in Earth Science, Geothermics. Her career began in Ethiopia culminating in becoming Head of Department in GSE (Ministry of Mines and Energy) managing Hydrogeology, Engineering Geology, Geothermal Divisions. She is internationally recognized and acclaimed professional with experience in renewable Energy programme management includingGeothermalEnergyexplorationanddevelopmentinAfrica. ShewasalsoProgrammeManager for Africa Rift Geothermal Development Facility Programme (ARGeo).

Throughout her career at UNEP Africa Office, she has demonstrated professionalism in her work with Member States and she has exceptionally managed the implementation of major projects in several countries, including South Africa and other SADC countries. These include: ( i) Regional African Rift Geothermal Development Facility Project (ARGeo); (ii) Clean Captives installations for industrial clients in Sub Saharan Africa; (iii) Energy Access and Green Transition Programme; and (iv) Women Entrepreneurs and Sustainable Energy in Africa.

She has also been closely involved in different regional and international assignments of the ICS-UNIDO and the African Union Commission (AUC) including in designing the AUC-KfW Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility for Eastern Africa Countries. As a regional Energy programme coordinator she has been involved with development of regional documents on renewable energy through programmes such as (a) African Hub for Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL); (d) UNEP-AfDB’s Africa Energy Resources Atlas; (e) African Renewable Energy Initiative.

She has always focused on Capacity Development in Africa with zeal and has been instrumental in conceptualizing and making possible the African Geothermal Center for Excellence. Meseret has played a leading role in the initiative and development of programmes for support to Women Entrepreneurs in Energy sector in Africa. She was instrumental in setting up the African Geothermal Center for Excellence, a training institution for African countries. Meseret has been a regular faculty of UN University- Geothermal Training Programme in Iceland for many years and has been training geothermal staff in Africa as invited faculty.

In 2009 she served as editor of IPCC Panel of sub-section Renewable sources, Climate Change Mitigation: Geothermal Energy. Meseret is a recipient of many international professional awards and has authored more than 20 professional papers some earned international awards.

Since August 2021, Dr. Zemedkun assumed Officer in charge as a head of UNEP South Africa office.

Monique Ekoko

Monique Ekoko

Representative at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Monique Ekoko is a Cameroonian national and is the newly appointed Representative of the South Africa Multi-Country Office (SAMCO) based in Pretoria, South Africa that was established as a result of UNHCR’s Decentralisation and Regionalisation process. Ms. Ekoko has just ended her mission as Representative of the UNHCR Multi-Country (MCO Office) in Dakar, Senegal which she has headed since March 2020. Previously, she was Representative in Malawi from July 2015 to December 2019 and prior to that she served as Deputy Representative to the UNHCR Representation to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (RAUECA) based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Ms Ekoko joined UNHCR in 1993 and has gained 29 solid years of experience working with UNHCR in various capacities including holding several managerial positions. She has served UNHCR in many countries namely Kenya, Serbia, Switzerland, South Africa, Botswana, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and Malawi mostly working in the areas of legal protection and policy.
Ms Ekoko has a passion for working with marginalised groups including asylum seekers and refugees and has championed this cause in most of her assignments.
She holds a bachelor’s degree (LLB) in English Private Law, a post-graduate Diploma in International Shipping Law, and a Master’s degree (LLM) in International Maritime Law from the University the University of Yaoundé, Cameroon and the from University of London in the United Kingdom respectively.
Prof. Lidia Arthur Brito

Prof. Lidia Arthur Brito

Regional Director and Representative
Lidia Arthur Brito has vast experience working in the field of science policy, development plans and monitoring of science policies and instruments, the forestry sector, traditional energy (biomass and coal), management in higher, technical and vocational education and ICTs for development. She has also been a university professor, researcher, consultant and main manager at national, regional and international institutions, combining academic and practical aspects to promote sustainable development. Between 2009 and 2014, she was UNESCO’s Director of Science Policy and Capacity-Building at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. She has worked extensively in the advancement of STI for sustainable development. She was the first Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology of Mozambique (2000-2005) and Vice-Chancellor of the Eduardo Mondlane University (1998 to 2000). She has collaborated on numerous boards, such as the Governing Council of the UNESCO Institute for Water Education, the United Nations University Council, the Advisory Council for the Community Development Carbon Fund, the Board of Directors of the Gateway Development Foundation; the Board of the Stockholm Environment Institute; and the African Forum on Forestry, Biodiversity (CGIAR Centre), among others. Prior to her appointment as the Regional Director for Southern Africa, she was the Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Science in Latin America and the Caribbean and UNESCO Representative in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, based in Montevideo.
Valentin Tapsoba, Regional Director for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for Southern Africa

Valentin Tapsoba

Regional Director, Southern Africa
Valentin Tapsoba is the UNHCR Regional Director for Southern Africa, covering 14 countries. He has worked with the refugee agency for the past 26 years in various leadership capacities at its headquarters in Geneva and several eld operations in sub- Saharan Africa and Asia.
Valentin Tapsoba is a national of Burkina Faso. He holds a Masters Degree in Economics from Ouagadougou University and a Masters Degree in International Business Transactions from George Mason University in the United States.