NRF Speakers 2021


Speakers & Panelists

Abas Aslani

Senior Research Fellow
Center for Middle East Strategic Studies (CMESS), Tehran

Abas Aslani is a senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies, a think tank based in Tehran. He has also been a journalist who previously served as Director General of World Department for both Tasnim News Agency and Fars News Agency.

Abas Aslani is a leading analyst in Iran covering a wide range of issues including internal Iranian affairs and the wider region. He has been following and covering the Iran nuclear talks for the past few years.

Arne Elias Corneliussen

Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Norwegian Risk Consulting International | NRCI, Oslo

Arne Elias Corneliussen is the founder and director of global geopolitical analysis in NRCI. He formed NRCI in 2010. He received his bachelor of arts in political science from Wittenberg University in Ohio in 1998. He studied at the American University in Cairo (AUC) in Egypt in 1996. He then returned to the US where he mapped Islamist movements from Morocco to the Philippines at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C in 1998. He lived in Santiago, Chile in 1999 where he examined South America´s political situation, economic development, drug cartels in Colombia and strategic relations between South America, North America and Europe. He completed a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in New York in 2000. He worked as an officer for the Norwegian Armed Forces during NATO’s operation in Kosovo from 2001 until 2002. Since 2002 he held different roles in the corporate sector in Norway including sales, international business development and recruitment services. Arne Elias Corneliussen is a Fellow in the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Arne Elias Corneliussen regularly conducts long fact-finding expeditions where he maps political, security and business risks, infrastructure, local conditions and expands NRCI’s global network with local contacts. He travelled on 10 fact-finding expeditions to 42 countries in Africa and he crossed 27 countries on the African continent by bus. His recent field trips include Central Asia, Central Africa and East Africa. In the fall of 2017 he travelled on an expedition by train, bus and shared taxis from Shanghai across China, Central Asia and the Caucasus to Istanbul to map infrastructure developments, logistical clusters and the geopolitical landscape along the One Belt One Road – the New Silk Road developed by China.

Arne Elias Corneliussen also serves as the conference director for Norwegian Risk Forum – NRCI’s annual international conference in Oslo focusing on geopolitical risks and international business opportunities. His strategic and systematic approach to define topics for each Norwegian Risk Forum involves field insights from his fact-finding expeditions; conversations with NRCI’s global advisory board members and leading analysts worldwide; and observing national policymaking and regional growth trends in emerging markets. He also developed a wide range of partnerships with organizations, think tanks and other institutions. Arne Elias Corneliussen is the host and anchor on Global Horizon – NRCI´s YouTube Channel, which provides three weekly NRCI original video series: Asian Horizon every Monday, Geopolitical Horizon every Wednesday and African Horizon every Friday. In these video series he examines geopolitical developments, economic and financial opportunities and security dynamics.

Scott Foster

Senior Financial Analyst
LightStream Research, Tokyo

Scott Foster is a senior financial analyst and writer who worked for American and European investment banks in Japan and Korea for more than 35 years. He is currently partner and senior financial analyst at LightStream Research, an independent equity research company based in Tokyo and Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Scott also writes for Asia Times, contributes a quarterly Asia Letter to Strategic News Service (SNS), and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Future in Review (FiRe) technology conference, where he is an occasional speaker. He is the author of Stealth Japan: The Surprise Success of the World’s First InfoMerc Economy (FiReBooks, 2016).

Scott received a BA from Stanford University (1976) and an MA from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (1982). He also holds a teacher’s certificate (Shihan) from the Tozan-ryu school of Shakuhachi (Japanese vertical bamboo flute) music and a black belt from the Karate-no-Michi World Federation (KWF). A permanent resident of Japan, he lives and works in Tokyo and a village in the countryside two hours away.

Isabel Hilton

Founder and Senior Advisor
China Dialogue, London

Isabel Hilton is a London-based international journalist and broadcaster. She studied at the Beijing Foreign Language and Culture University and at Fudan University in Shanghai before taking up a career in written and broadcast journalism, working for The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Guardian, and the New Yorker.

In 1992 she became a presenter of the BBC’s flagship news program, “The World Tonight,” then BBC Radio Three’s cultural program “Night Waves.” She is a columnist for The Guardian and her work has appeared in the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Granta, the New Statesman, El Pais, Index on Censorship, and many other publications.

She is the author and co-author of several books and is founder and editor of, a non-profit, fully bilingual online publication based in London, Beijing, and Delhi that focuses on the environment and climate change. Hilton holds two honorary doctorates and was awarded the OBE for her work in raising environmental awareness in China.

Ravi Kant

Senior Columnist
Asia Times, New Delhi

Ravi Kant is a senior columnist at Asia Times, a leading newspaper in Asia. He mainly covers insight on political developments in India, industrial developments, technology, economics as well as international politics, and cybersecurity. Much of his analysis covers the changes happening in geopolitical orders and their impact on the world economy. He has wider experience in the financial world as he works closely with some of India’s top hedge funds including Estee Commodities (India’s top Algo trading company).

Ravi Kant was previously associated with Mogul News, a London-based financial news agency as a financial analyst. He mainly covers emerging markets, currencies, and fixed income instruments. His area of research mainly includes finding loopholes in the current international governance system and recommending changes to fill the gap. Such as making a case for Special Drawing Rights (SDR) as a global reserve currency for avoiding 2008 like financial global depression. Some of his work received an endorsement from eminent personalities like Pritish Nandy, former Times of India editor, former US treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, and others. He holds a Bachelor degree in the field of Electrical Engineering from JNTU University.

He is an economic forecaster, and some of his forecasting is quite consistent especially regarding India and China. He was first to pinpoint the flaws of Modinomics & why it will doom to fail. He also authored a book “Coronavirus: A Pandemic or Plandemic, A world Post Coronavirus’’. He is also on the board of advisors for an artificial intelligence startup Xequence AI.

Parag Khanna

Founder and Managing Partner
FutureMap, Singapore

Parag Khanna is a leading global strategy advisor, world traveler, and best-selling author. He is Founder & Managing Partner of FutureMap, a data and scenario based strategic advisory firm. Parag’s newest book is MOVE: The Forces Uprooting Us (2021), which was preceded by The Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict & Culture in the 21st Century (2019). His books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Parag was named one of Esquire’s “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century,” and featured in WIRED magazine’s “Smart List.”

From 2013-2018 he was a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. From 2006-2015, he was a Senior Research Fellow at the New America Foundation. During 2007, he served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a senior geopolitical adviser to United States Special Operations Forces. From 2002-5, he was the Global Governance Fellow at the Brookings Institution; from 2000-2002, he worked at the World Economic Forum in Geneva; and from 1999-2000, he was a Research Associate at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Dr. Khanna holds a PhD in international relations from the London School of Economics, and Bachelors and Masters degrees from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Born in India, Parag grew up in the United Arab Emirates, New York, and Germany. He is an accomplished adventurer who has traveled to nearly 150 countries on all continents. Some of his lengthy journeys include driving from the Baltic Sea through the Balkans and across Turkey and the Caucasus to the Caspian Sea, across the rugged terrain of Tibet and Xinjiang provinces in western China, and ten thousand kilometers from London to Ulaanbaatar in the Mongolia Charity Rally. He has climbed numerous 20,000-foot plus peaks, and trekked in the Alps, Himalayas, and Tien Shan mountain ranges. Parag is also a competitive tennis player.

Andrey Kortunov

Director General
Russian International Affairs Council, Moscow

Andrey Kortunov graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) in 1979 and completed his postgraduate studies at the Institute for U.S. and Canada Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1982. He holds a PhD in History. Dr Kortunov completed internships at the Soviet embassies in London and Washington, and at the Permanent Delegation of the USSR to the UN.

In 1982–1995, Dr Kortunov held various positions in the Institute for U.S. and Canada Studies, including Deputy Director. He taught at universities around the world, including the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, he led several public organizations involved in higher education, social sciences and social development.

Since 2011, Andrey Kortunov has been the Director General of RIAC. He is a member of expert and supervisory committees and boards of trustees of several Russian and international organizations. His academic interests include contemporary international relations and Russian foreign policy.

Marnus Kotze

Head of Logistics and Services Africa Region
A.P. Moeller – Maersk, Cape Town

Marnus started his career in the natural resources and energy industry, consulting on upstream oil and gas projects, as well as electricity generation projects before building a career in the supply chain industry. During the last decade, he has worked with a global forwarder, specialising in contract logistics, and managed the logistics for a large African chemicals and mining explosives manufacturer. During this time, he has obtained first-hand experience of the challenges and opportunities offered by logistics in Africa and the potential it holds to connect Africa with the rest of the World.

Marnus joined Maersk in 2020 and is currently the Head of Logistics and Services for the Africa region, responsible for the growth of Maersk’s landside logistics offerings in Sub-Saharan Africa. He holds a Master’s Degree in Engineering and is passionate about solving problems that matter.

Derica Lambrechts

Senior Lecturer
Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch

Dr Derica Lambrechts is a senior lecturer at the Department of Political Science, Stellenbosch University. She obtained her PhD in 2013 and her research focused on state society relationships, specifically analysing the relationship between the gangs on the Cape Flats and the City of Cape Town, South Africa. She is a trained political risk analyst and has published extensively in the field of political risk and political security risk analysis, focussing on political risks related to the African continent. In addition to her extensive research experience, she also has leadership experience, having been the Head of Department of Political Science at Stellenbosch University from 2017-2020.

Dr Lambrechts has worked in academia for most of her career but has experience from the corporate sector; she frequently acts as a consultant for the private sector. She regularly presents Political Risk Short Courses to a variety of domestic and international stakeholders, including local government representatives, NGOs, and journalists. In addition to her research on organised criminal groups, she has developed her own theoretical framework for analysing political risk, namely political-security risk.

Dr Lambrechts has also travelled to various destinations around the globe, with a particular focus on political risk hubs such as Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, Montreal, London, Bergen, Oslo, and Sydney. Closer to home, she has active engagement with several political risk stakeholders located in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Nairobi. For the past 12 years, Dr Lambrechts has pioneered the training of local and international young scholars in the field of political risk analysis; her former students are now employed by a vast variety of global political risk companies.

Michael Quentin Morton

Gulf Analyst, London

Michael Quentin Morton grew up in Qatar, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi in the 1950s and 1960s. After qualifying as a barrister, Quentin spent over 30 years in a legal career before becoming full-time author.

Since In the Heart of the Desert was first published in 2006, he has written eight books about various aspects of Middle East history: Black Gold and Frankincense, Buraimi, The Third River, Keepers of the Golden Shore, The Petroleum Gulf (all which have been translated into Arabic), Empires and Anarchies and his latest book, Masters of the Pearl, which was published in August 2020.​

Quentin has also written numerous articles, and lectured to various bodies including the Anglo-Omani Society, the British Yemeni Society, the Royal Society of Asian Affairs in London, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in Istanbul and London, the Geological Society of Oman, the Historical Association of Oman in Muscat and, most recently, the International Association for the Study of Arabia by Zoom. He lives with his wife in Kent.

Jean-Marc Ricca

Country Cluster Head West Africa
BASF West Africa Limited, Lagos

Jean-Marc Ricca was initially trained as a biochemist, and he graduated with a PhD in organic chemistry from Warwick university. He spent the beginning of his career in corporate and applied research mostly for the home & personal care industry.

He then had several roles in marketing of innovation, regional business management and key account management in 4 of the 7 continents, particularly in emerging and frontier markets. Jean-Marc Ricca then moved to Africa in 2016 to take over BASF operations in West Africa and is currently stationed in Lagos, Nigeria. He travelled extensively in West Africa over the last five years.

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