Current Directors and Trustees

Honorary Officers

Professor Justin Willis


Justin is Professor in History at Durham University in the UK. His involvement with BIEA goes back to 1986, when he was a graduate attachee; he has subsequently served as assistant director, honorary treasurer, director, and vice-president for research.  Justin’s work has largely been concerned with questions of identity and moral authority in eastern Africa in the last two centuries.  He is the author of Mombasa, the Swahili and the Making of the Mijikenda (Oxford, 1993); Potent Brews: A Social History of Alcohol in East Africa (Nairobi and Oxford, 2002); and (with Nic Cheeseman and Gabrielle Lynch) The Moral Economy of Elections in Africa: Democracy, Voting and Virtue (Cambridge, 2021). He was one of the editors of The Sudan Handbook (2011).

Professor Gabrielle lynch

Vice President for Research

Gabrielle Lynch is a Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Warwick. She is the author of over 30 articles and book chapters, and author or editor of five books, including I Say to You: Ethnic Politics and the Kalenjin in Kenya (University of Chicago Press, 2011) and Performances of Injustice: The Politics of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in Kenya (Cambridge University Press, 2018). She is the Deputy Chair of the Review of African Political Economy, and wrote a regular column in Kenya’s Saturday Nation (2014-2018) and The East African (2015-2017). Gabrielle participated in the BIEA graduate attachment scheme in 2003, joined the BIEA Council as an elected member in 2010, and was appointed Vice President/Research in 2019. 

Rt hon Mr Mark Simmonds

Vice President for Finance & Development

Rt Hon Mark Simmonds was The Foreign & Commonwealth office Minister with responsibilities for Africa, the Caribbean, UK Overseas Territories, International Energy and Conflict Prevention. He served as a Member of the UK Parliament for 14 years.  He was also a Senior Advisor to The Prime Minister David Cameron. He focussed on driving and facilitating inward investment into Africa and the Commonwealth across a range of key economic sectors including Hydrocarbons, Financial Services, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Energy & Agriculture. He has a huge knowledge of the economic and political composition of African Governments, countries and regions.  He Chaired the UN Security Council on two occasions. He is Chairman of Africa Oil Week “The Davos of Africa’s Hydrocarbon Industry” the link between African Governments and the Private Sector.  He also Chairs the African Oil Week Advisory Board. He is additionally involved in clean technology for the agriculture, healthcare, transport, energy & extractive sectors. He now has several international roles.  Including Senior Advisor to International Investigation Firm, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Global Investment platform, Invest Africa, Senior Advisor to a Global Multi-Strategy Hedge Fund, and Senior Advisor to a large UK based Family Office.  Advisor to a Large US Private Equity Firm & Advisory Board Member of the Commonwealth Investment Council. He also has roles with not-for-profit organisations, including as Honorary Vice President of Flora & Fauna International.  He is a Trustee of the British Institute in East Africa and Board Member of Engender Health. He is a Member of her Majesty’s Privy Council. Mark is married with three children.

Mr Robert Tench


Robert is a retired accountant who lives in London. He spent the larger part of his career in a variety of finance roles with Xerox Europe and subsequently 15 years as Finance Director of the international classical musicians’ agency, Intermusica.

Current Directors and Trustees

Dr Ceri Ashley

Ceri is Head of the Endangered Material Knowledge Programme at the British Museum ( and Professor of Cultural Heritage at Nottingham Trent University. She did her PhD in archaeology at UCL examining the transition to farming in the Great Lakes region, and has led excavations in Kenya, Uganda, Botswana and South Africa. Ceri’s research focuses on material culture and social value, and how historical and political context shapes research.

Professor Emma Hunter

I am Professor of Global and African History at the University of Edinburgh. My research focuses on the intellectual, political and cultural history of eastern Africa. 

Sir Jeffrey James kbe cmg

Kenya Board Vice Chair

Sir Jeffrey James was the British High Commissioner to Kenya from mid-1997 to the end of 2001. As a career diplomat, he also served in South Africa in 1986-88, with other overseas postings in Afghanistan, India and Iran.

Since his retirement in 2001, he has maintained a keen interest in Kenya and East Africa more generally and has been a frequent visitor to Nairobi. He joined the Governing Council of the BIEA in London in 2012 and was nominated by the Council to become the first Treasurer of BIEA Kenya. He was on the Governing Council of Keele University for eight years which introduced him to the importance of the contemporary research agenda. He is also a Director of the Eastern Africa Association which represents investors in the region.

Professor Ambreena Manji

Ambreena Manji is Professor of Land Law and Development at Cardiff. She was previously Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa (2010-2014). Her research is focused on Law and Society in Africa. It is strongly interdisciplinary and includes work on law in African literature. Her most recent book is The Struggle for Land and Justice in Kenya (James Currey/Boydell & Brewer 2020). Ambreena was president of the African Studies Association UK (2018-2020) and is currently a co-editor of African Affairs. She is a member of the Governing Council of the Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC). @AmbreenaManji.

Professor Victor Murinde

Professor Victor Murinde (PhD, FRSA, FAcSS) holds the AXA Chair in Global Finance and is the founding Director of the Research Centre for Global Finance, at the School of Finance and Management, SOAS University of London. He has contributed over 100 research papers, mainly in banking and finance. According to the previous UK Research Excellence Framework (REF2014), his research on “Shaping Bank Regulatory Reforms in Africa” was recognized for exceptional impact. He is the Principal Investigator of a DFID-ESRC Research Grant on “Inclusive Finance”, 2016-2021, leading a consortium of 11 institutions across the globe. His other roles include: Chair of Group C (Finance) for the Africa Economic Research Consortium (AERC); and Council Member / Trustee of British Institute in Eastern Africa. He was the founding Director of the African Development Institute at the African Development Bank, 2011-2014. He was also Professor of Development Finance at the University of Birmingham.