Bill Gates to deliver 2016 Nelson Mandela Lecture


Since the inaugural Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in 2003, speakers have been notable global leaders in their field – be it politics, human rights or economics. This year will be no different. Microsoft co-founder and global philanthropist Bill Gates will deliver the 14th annual lecture on the eve of Mandela Day.

bill gates Bill Gates, co-founder of software giant Microsoft and global philanthropist, will deliver this year’s annual Nelson Mandela Lecture on the eve of Mandela Day. (Image: YouTube)

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Priya Pitamber

Microsoft co-founder and global philanthropist Bill Gates will deliver the 14th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on 17 July 2016, the eve of Mandela Day, the Nelson Mandela Foundation has announced, in association with the University of Pretoria.

Gates, who is the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will speak on the theme “Living Together”.

“It’s an incredible honour to be invited to deliver this year’s Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture,” Gates said. “President Mandela will be remembered for generations to come for his courage, his vision, and his relentless pursuit of equality and justice. I believe, as he did, that progress is possible.

“We can help people everywhere live healthier, more productive lives – if we make sure that innovation reaches everyone who needs it. I can’t think of a better forum for discussing these urgent issues than the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture.”



Sello Hatang, CEO of the foundation, said the organisation was delighted Gates had accepted the speaker’s invitation.

“I have no doubt that his views will stimulate debate and highlight the issues that continue to curb progress of poor and marginalised communities in South Africa and around the world.”

Professor Njabulo Ndebele, chairperson of the board of the foundation, said both Gates and the organisation shared a commitment to improving people’s quality of life.

“We know that the promise of a better life is possible through improving access to and quality of education, health care and opportunity,” Ndebele said. “These are causes that Mr Gates continues to advance and support. We are honoured to have him share his insights (into) the most challenging issues of our time.”

Gates is guided by the belief that all lives have equal value, and is dedicated to building a world where every person has a chance to lead a healthy, productive life. He does this through the Gates Foundation. It works with partners to combat infectious diseases; empower women and girls to transform their lives; ensure that children and young people survive and thrive; and inspire people to take action to change the world.

The lecture will be take place at the University of Pretoria’s Mamelodi Campus.

“As an innovator and a philanthropist, I know Bill Gates will inspire students, staff and academics at the University of Pretoria,” said Professor Cheryl de la Rey, vice-chancellor of the university.

“His dedication and commitment to improving the lives of the poor sets a remarkable example for us all. We are delighted to partner with the Nelson Mandela Foundation to host the lecture.”

The lecture

The Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture is one of the foundation’s flagship programmes to honour Mandela. It is a chance to raise topical issues affecting South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world. It encourages local and international dialogue – often about difficult subjects – on the multiple and complex challenges that face the world today. The lectures are delivered by speakers who have made a significant contribution in their field of expertise.

“Living Together” highlights the need for a new social pact across the globe to end protracted conflict, overcome intolerance and prejudice, improve access to health care and education, and reduce poverty and inequality.

About Bill Gates

In 1975, Gates left Harvard University to focus on Microsoft, the company he founded with his childhood friend, Paul Allen. As chief software architect and chairperson, Gates led the company to become the global leader in business and personal software, services and solutions.

By 2000, he and his wife, Melinda, set up their foundation.

He has received numerous awards for his philanthropic work and holds several honorary doctorates from universities around the world.

Previous speakers

  • 2003: Former US president, Bill Clinton
  • 2004: Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  • 2005: Nobel laureate, Prof Wangari Maathai
  • 2006: Former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki
  • 2007: Former secretary-general of the UN, Kofi Annan
  • 2008: Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
  • 2009: Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Grameen Bank, Professor Muhammad Yunus
  • 2010: Chilean-American author, activist and professor of literature and Latin-American studies, Ariel Dorfman
  • 2011: Director of the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, Ismail Serageldin
  • 2012: Former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson
  • 2013: Founder and chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Dr Mo Ibrahim
  • 2014: Chilean President Michelle Bachelet
  • 2015: Economist Thomas Piketty

Watch last year’s lecture: