The more than 350 guests at the fifth annual African Business Awards at Grosvenor House last Thursday included Africa’s leading business figures, ministers, diplomats and government officials. 

Organised by African Business magazine and the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC), the ceremony recognised those who have driven Africa’s rapidly transforming economy.

A distinguished panel of judges selected winners from a pool of nominees from all over Africa, with SA taking a fifth of the awards – three out of 14.

The Most Outstanding Woman of the Year was named as South Africa’s Rachel Zodwa Mabaso, founder and managing director of Mboweni Mineral Resources. She was unable to attend the ceremony so Regina Jere-Malanda, Editor of New African Woman, accepted the trophy on her behalf.

The Award for Innovation went to Entrepreneurial Finance Lab, which was founded in South Africa and has developed an international operation that identifies high-potential entrepreneurs and performs credit scoring.

South Africa’s Nedbank Group, represented by Mark Weston, won the Award for Environmental Sustainability in Africa.

Sir Alan Collins, Director General of the CBC commented, “By celebrating success, we aim to inspire others. We hope that such inspiration will lead to new business growth and new investment. It is encouraging that there are more and more examples of excellence in Africa, creating more opportunities that are ripe for investment.”

The CBC was established by the Commonwealth Heads of Government in 1997 to involve the private sector in the promotion of trade and investment. The CBC acts as a bridge for cooperation between business and government, concentrating on efforts to help remove barriers to trade, mobilise investment into Commonwealth countries, foster a good environment for business and investment, promote good practice in corporate governance and corporate citizenship, and facilitate the engagement of the private sector in information communication technology for development initiatives, especially in less developed countries.

The African Business Awards are held as an integral part of the Africa Business Forum. This annual event enables business and government leaders to jointly assess progress in promoting growth and development in Africa, and take steps to meet emerging challenges.

Egbert Imomoh, co-founder and Chairman of Afren, winner of Business Leader of the Year, emphasised that “Africa’s time has come to realise its full potential. Some of the most inspiring and transformational changes I see across Africa lie outside our traditional areas of strength and offer perhaps the brightest prospects for the future. Companies are now judged , not by how fast they are growing , but by whether they are growing faster than the competition.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Manu Chandaria, who has been hailed as “one of Kenya’s leading industrialists”. Applauded by a standing ovation, he was given special credit for having built a world class conglomerate and set a benchmark for young entrepreneurs across the African continent to follow.

The rest of the winners:
• Investor of the Year: Dangote, Nigeria
• Special Commendation: Olam, Gabon
• Best Hospitality, Travel, and Tourism in Africa: Serena Hotels, Kenya
• Award for Good Corporate Governance: Diageo Africa
• Best Corporate Social Responsibility: BHP Billiton
• Business Leader of the Year: Egbert Imomoh, Non-Executive Chairman, Afren
• African Business of the Year: Innocent Chukwuma (Innoson)
• Award for Best Agricultural Development: OCP, Morocco
• Country Achievement for Sustained Improvement in Investment Climate: Rwanda
• Creative Industry Award: Duro Olowu
• Lifetime Achievement Award: Manu Chandaria, Kenya

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