This year marks the 3rd annual instalment of the African of the Year Award; an honorary category of the annual All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA™), which is in its landmark 10th year. Whilst this milestone anniversary could not be celebrated with a live in-person event this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisers, the ABN Group, still honoured the African of the Year, virtually, for the first time. The award accords the distinction to a change-maker who has demonstrated true leadership excellence, has a prominent presence on the world stage, and whose influence has played a significant role in Africa’s development.
The recipient of the 2020 African of the Year Award is Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Just like the two winners before her, she graces the December 2020 / January 2021 cover of FORBES AFRICA, unveiled during a special broadcast on CNBC Africa last night.
The Nigerian-born globally-renowned economist and development expert has served twice as Nigeria’s finance minister; the first woman to hold this position. Dr Okonjo-Iweala also held several key positions with, and rose to prominence as the Managing Director of the World Bank. Her relentless efforts to make vaccines available to poor countries and enable equal access to the Covid-19 vaccine makes her a formidable role model. She has previously been listed as one of Transparency International’s Anti-Corruption Fighters Who Inspire, made the list for Fortune’s 50 Greatest World Leaders, was nominated as one of Forbes’ Top 10 Most Influential Women in Africa, and announced as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME magazine in 2014. With multiple awards and honours to her name, Dr Okonjo-Iweala has risen to the top as one of the most respected leaders in Africa. She was also on FORBES AFRICA’s list of ‘Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women’ published early this year. Dr Okonjo-Iweala is also a front-runner for the top post of Director-General of the World Trade Organization.
“This pandemic has pushed the world into uncharted territory and has forced many businesses to reassess almost every aspect of how they work. As a media company, we have been in a fortunate position to keep our audiences, both broadcast and digital, informed during these challenging times. Although we reminisce about the days of hosting live in-person events, by adapting and embracing technology, we have kept the African story alive and can continue giving recognition to the men and women who are transforming and developing Africa,” said Roberta Naicker, Managing Director of the ABN Group.
In 2018, Rwandan President Paul Kagame was the first recipient of the African of the Year award, followed by the President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, in 2019.
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