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Greg Mills

Greg Mills

Director, The Brenthurst Foundation

South Africa South Africa

Dr Greg Mills heads the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation, established in 2005 by the Oppenheimer family to strengthen African economic performance.

He holds degrees from the Universities of Cape Town (BA Hons) and Lancaster (MA cum laude, and PhD), and was, first, the Director of Studies and then the National Director of the SA Institute of International Affairs from 1994-2005.

With Brenthurst he has directed numerous reform projects with African heads of state, including Rwanda (2007-8), Mozambique (2005-11), Swaziland (2010-11), Malawi (2012-14, and again 2020/1), Kenya (2012 and 2020), Lesotho (2008;2019-20), Liberia (2006/7), Zambia (2010; 2016), Zimbabwe (2009-13), Ghana (2017), Ethiopia (2019- 20), Nigeria (2017-18), and almost continuously at various levels of government in South Africa from the Foundation’s outset.

He also sat on the Danish Africa Commission and on the African Development Bank’s high-level panel on fragile states, and served four deployments to Afghanistan with the British Army as the adviser to the commander. He has also worked extensively in Colombia, and with a variety of African governments in both improving the conditions for peacebuilding and investment, including through the Zambezi Protocol on the natural resource sector.

A member of the advisory board of the Royal United Services Institute, he is the author of the best- selling books Why Africa Is Poor and Africa’s Third Liberation, and together with President Olusegun Obasanjo Making Africa Work: A Handbook for Economic Success. In 2018 he completed a second stint as a visiting fellow at Cambridge University, in producing a book on the state of African democracy, which was published as Democracy Works in 2019. The Asian Aspiration: Why and How Africa Should Emulate Asia (again with President Obasanjo and former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn) followed in 2020, which identifies the relevant lessons from Asia’s development and growth story. His writings won him the Recht Malan Prize for Non-Fiction Work in South Africa.

His latest books – Expensive Poverty – which details the failings of aid, and suggests several ways to improve development outcomes, was published by Pan Macmillan in October 2021; while The Ledger: Accounting for Failure in Afghanistan was published by Hurst/Oxford University Press at the start of 2022. An edited compendium on Better Choices for the South African economy was also published by Pan Macmillan in March 2022, another on Populism in August 2022; and a volume on South African scenarios The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in August 2023.

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His latest book is Rich State, Poor State: Why Some States Succeed and Others Fail, published by Penguin Random House in September 2023. His current research encompasses understanding the means by which outsiders can best assist African governments in meeting contemporary security challenges.

He was appointed to the Advisory Panel of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in 2022.

His leisure interests include cycling and motorsport. A grandson of the pre-war Grand Prix driver Billy Mills, he has received his national colours for motorsport, and provincial colours for rowing and motorsport. In 2019, he headed the first South African team to participate at Le Mans, in the Road to Le Mans, driving a Bentley GT3, and was appointed as the President of the Western Province Motor Club the same year. He has served as a board member of Motorsport SA, and is a member of the FIA’s Historic Commission.

He has written eight books on Southern African motorsport for various charities, the last being Saloons, Bars and Boykies: Southern African Motorsport Heroes.

He is married to the artist, teacher and SA-representative rower Janet Wilson and they have three (very!) strong-willed children: Amelia (22), Beatrix (19) and William (17).

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