Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the African of the Year 2020. She is currently the front-runner for the top post of Director-General of the World Trade Organization. /Photo: Gavi

First female African of the Year honouree awarded

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has been unveiled as the recipient of its 2020 African of the Year Award. 

The former Nigerian finance minister was ceremoniously awarded during a special broadcast on CNBC Africa on Monday night.

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™) organised by the ABN Group, the holding company for CNBC Africa and Forbes Africa magazine.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame was the first recipient of the African of the Year award in 2019, followed by the President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, in 2019. And like the two winners before her, Okonjo-Iweala graces the December 2020/January 2021 cover of FORBES AFRICA.


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“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,” ABN Group said in the citation.

“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.”

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.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala is currently the 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.

The All Africa Business Leaders Awards is in its landmark 10th year. 

Kola Tella


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