ABLA encourages the continent to work together, because our time has come

Posted on June 22, 2011

At the launch of the inaugural Africa Business Leaders Awards (ABLA) press conference, held at CNBC Africa in Sandton. Dr Yunus Suleman, chairman of KPMG commented, “It is important to be leaders and not followers.  Africa's time has come, and it’s up to us now to showcase its leaders. These awards are really a good stepping stone to showcasing not just the leaders and winners, but the African continent as a whole.”

Managing director of CNBC Africa and chairman of ABN Nigeria and ABN Kenya, Gary Alfonso, said that from the outside looking in, the world is really focusing on Africa. He explained that the Africa Business Leaders Awards highlights and celebrates leadership in other parts of the CNBC globe. The ABLA is differentiated from others such as the European Business Leader Awards (EBLA) in that it sticks to the premise that “you are only judged by what you contribute towards the media industry”. Alfonso feels that too often, many business awards are not editorially credible, but CNBC Africa’s role, together with ABN events setting and launching the African Business Leaders Awards, is testimony to the fact that a credible business leaders platform is being launched. He added: “We will be looking at leadership in a different way to advance into Africa, and using these awards as a celebration of the true leaders of Africa going forward.”

The judging panel for the African Business Leaders Awards includes: Dr Suleman, who is also the convenor and chairman of the panel; Professor Nick Binedell, director at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) ; Russell Loubser, CEO at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE); Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO at the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD); and Godfrey Mutizwa, chief editor at CNBC Africa.

Before handing over to Dr Suleman, Alfonso said that CNBC Africa has produced and singularly put together more than one-million minutes of African business content in the past four years, and for this reason, feels that CNBC Africa will be able to tell the editorial story in its entirety. He added that with the African Business Leaders Awards, CNBC has brought together partners that can define justly who the captains of the African economic story are. With CNBC Africa on-board as a media partner, Suleman believes that the awards celebration will receive the reach it needs to showcase exceedingly strong leaders who will be highlighted at these awards.

KPMG will be working closely with Professor Binedell in the judging process. “From looking at the actual criteria and categories, we wanted to showcase the best in each that highlights what is most important in Africa.” The categories include: Lifetime Achievement Award; Young Business Leader of the Year Award; African Business Woman of the Year; African Entrepreneur of the Year; and the African Business Leader of the Year. Suleman explained, “There is such great talent in all of the countries across Africa, and as a panel of judges, together with CNBC, we are determined to have a fair representation across Africa; therefore if you have won a category, you will not be allowed to re-apply for that category.” He added that the ABLA includes the entire Africa, including northern Africa – “this makes it truly African”.

Alfonso concluded that the launch of these awards is important. With South Africa having recently been inducted into Brics (Brazil, Russia, India and China), Alfonso understands that everyone is focusing on the country and the role it will play in trying to embrace Africa. And what role might this be? Garnering greater support and creating a partisan environment for African businesses to benefit from this alliance.

The official call for entries for the Africa Business Leaders Awards went live on 21 June on the official ABLA website and will close at the end of July. The gala awards ceremony take place in October.

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