Akinwumi Adesina wins 2019 African of the Year award

African Development Bank President (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, on Thursday won the African of the Year Award by the All Africa Business Leaders Awards.

This, according to the organizers of the award, was in recognition of his bold leadership and the innovation of the Africa Investment Forum which, in their words, “opened up billions of dollars of investment into the continent”.

The award, which is in its ninth edition, was organized by AABLA in conjunction with CNBC Africa. It seeks to honour leaders who have contributed and shaped the African economy.

It should be noted that The Africa Investment Forum, for which Adesina was honoured, was inaugurated in 2018; and it has been a trailblazer in tilting investments into the continent.

The second edition of the Forum which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa in November was attended by over 2,000 delegates and it secured investor interest worth $40.1 billion – up from $37.1 billion the previous year.

Remarking on the award during the exclusive gala dinner held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, at which the awards were announced, Adesina said, “It is indeed a great honour, beyond description”, adding that he was overwhelmed to follow in the footsteps of his “big brother”, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who won the award in 2018. “My heartbeat is to serve the people of Africa,” Adesina further commented.

The event was attended by an A-list of business leaders, government representatives including David Makhura, Premier of Guateng Province, who gave the opening address and some of South Africa’s leading personalities.

The awards are decided by a jury of continent-wide judges led by Sam Bhembe, CNBC Africa Non-Executive Director, following evaluation of a shortlist of finalists to determine the overall category winners.

Bhembe said the award reflected how the winner would “shape the future of the African continent,” and that the winner would brace the cover of a special edition of Forbes Africa.

In other categories of the 2019 awards, Nigerian Co-Founder of Kobo360, Obi Ozor won Young Business Leader of the Year; Naspers CEO: South Africa, Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa took the Business Woman of the Year award; while Nedbank, won the Company of the Year award.

Adesina dedicated his award “to the people of Africa who inspire me… I do not work alone….it was very rewarding to be at the helm of an organisation that paves the way to progress”.