The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres earlier this week announced the appointment of Bience Gawanas of Namibia as Special Adviser for Africa.
Gawanas who will succeed Maged Abdelaziz of Egypt is a lawyer by profession, and is currently the Special Adviser to the Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare. Prior to this, she was the Special Adviser to the Minister of Health and Social Services.
Gawanas was previously elected for two terms as the Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in 2003 and 2008, during which time she was responsible for advocacy as well as the harmonisation and coordination of regional and continental policies and programme on promoting social development. She was also Ombudswoman of Namibia from 1996 to 2003.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah upon congratulating her said Gawanas is eminently qualified for the position.
"We have full confidence in Adv. Gawanas' intellectual abilities and professionalism. Adv. Gawanas was the first African woman Commissioner for Social Affairs, and was deservedly credited for having contributed significantly to the development of the AU social policy. Her vast experience on AU will serve her in good stead in her new position, thus facilitating the consolidation of effective cooperation between the AU and the UN," Nandi-Ndaitwah said.
In her new position as Special Advisor on Africa, Gawanas follows in the footsteps of African luminaries such as the illustrious and distinguished diplomats and scholars; Professor Ibrahim Gambari of Nigeria; Ambassador Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, former Permanent Representative and Ambassador of Botswana to the UN who served as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Namibia during the implementation of Resolution 435 in 1989; and the immediate past holder, Mr. Maged Abdelaziz of Egypt. Adv. Gawanas becomes the first woman to be appointed to the position.