Yohannes Assefa is one of the leading experts on structured trade in Africa. He started his career as a securities lawyer in the United States where he worked in the equities and commodities markets. Mr. Assefa has worked in 13 Sub-Saharan African countries in establishing agricultural commodities exchanges and various types of structured trading mechanisms.
In 2008, he was hired by USAID to assist in the design and establishment of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange. After the successful launch and management of ECX, Mr. Assefa and colleagues helped to design, operate and transfer the AHCX in Malawi for Auction Holdings Limited, a private sector tobacco auction. From 2012 to 2017, Mr. Assefa was involved in designing and establishing exchanges in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. He worked in Mozambique, Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria on warehouse receipt systems development and regional trade.
Mr. Assefa served as Director of Agriculture and Agribusiness at the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub from 2017-2019. The Hub worked to deepen regional integration, increasing the competitiveness of select regional agricultural value chains, among other things. As part of his work, Mr. Assefa helped to facilitate 1.8 million mt of grain in the East Africa region for a total value of nearly $800 million.
Prior to joining the Hub, Mr. Assefa was a Director at Stalwart, Knowledge, Innovation and Technology Ltd., a Dubai-based consulting firm focusing on the development of financial and agricultural markets in developing countries. At Stalwart, Mr. Assefa led the firm’s advisory work on structured trade, market policy, legal and regulatory work and advised various private and public sector clients around Africa, including the World Bank (including the IFC), UNCTAD, UNDP, USAID, DFID, IOM, AGRA, Bank of Tanzania and others on the development of agricultural policy and markets across Africa. Mr. Assefa was part of the team that established the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) and has worked on commodity exchange and warehouse receipt projects in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali.
Mr. Assefa also served as Chief of Part of the USAID-funded Ethiopia WTO Accession Project. From 2003 to 2008, Mr. Assefa served as a Securities Associate at Hawkins Delafield and Wood, LLP and at Harris Beach PLLC, respectively. He clerked at the New York Supreme Court, Fourth Appellate Division, prior to joining Harris Beach in 2003.
From 2003 to 2008, Mr. Assefa served as a Securities Associate at Hawkins Delafield and Wood, LLP in Washington DC and at Harris Beach PLLC in Pittsford, New York, respectively. He clerked at the New York Supreme Court, Fourth Appellate Division, prior to joining Harris Beach in 2003. In 2004, Mr. Assefa was named “Up and Coming Attorney” of the year by The Daily Record, a New York State-based legal journal. Mr. Assefa received his Juries Doctorate from Northeastern University School of Law. He received his Masters of Science degree from Indiana State University, and his Bachelors of Art degree from the University of California, Irvine. Mr. Assefa is a member of the New York and Washington DC bar associations. Mr. Assefa served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and International Business at Addis Ababa University (2010-2011) and The George Washington University (2013-2015, respectively.
The 8th AGTS will look to find solutions for the missing pieces of the grain trade puzzle and attempt to come up with an action plan to deliver more and better grain trade on the continent.