Forbes Best Of Africa International Honours African Trailblazers

August 19 21:30 2021

Forbes Best of Africa has honoured African change agents at the Foreign Investment Network (FIN) Round Table discussion on Leadership and Philanthropy. Forbes honoured outstanding leaders in business, politics, innovation, leadership, and the economy on the 6thof August 2021.

Paul Adefaransin (photo by Su Kaye Photography)

Paul Adefaransin (photo by Su Kaye Photography)

Billed as one of the biggest and most prestigious awards in Africa, FIN and FORBES awarded outstanding personalities, who have contributed significantly to the business, political, leadership, and economic growth of Africa.

The recipients of the Best of Africa Award were awarded by Mr Mark Furlong, President of Customs Solutions at Forbes. The awards were given to pacesetters whose level of influence in their various spheres has undergone intense research and verification by FIN and FORBES. The recipients of the awards were Mr Sam Matekane, Mr Nana Kwame Bediako, Mr Mahmood Ahmadu, Mr Leo Stan Ekeh, Ms Wendy Ackerman, DrRajan Mahtani, Mr Ken Sharpe, Ambassador. Claver Gatete, and Rev’d. Paul Adefarasin.

Mrs Olayinka Fayomi, the Chairman of FIN International delivered an opening address to kick off the event. A goodwill message was given by His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, the Vice President of Nigeria, who was represented by His Excellency, OtunbaNiyiAdebayo, the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and was followed by the message from His Majesty King LetsieIII. Ambassador Claver Gatete, Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure also gave a speech.

The keynote address was delivered by author, coach, philanthropist, and Senior Pastor of The House On The Rock Nigeria, Paul Adefarasin, who was also a recipient of the Best of Africa Award.

The panel session was led by vast and outstanding panelists from various fields, some of which were recipients of the awards in their various categories. They include Wendy Ackerman (a businesswoman, philanthropist, and Executive Director of Pick n Pay stores), GhadiyaliZuliquar (a seasoned technocrat, and leading businessman in the Middle East), DalithSteiger (a foremost thought-leader in AI and consummate, co-founder of award-winning Swiss Cognitive), Rajan Mahtani (a Zambian business magnate and Chairman of the finance bank, Zambia Limited), Sam Matekane (a business magnate, leading entrepreneur, and Chairman of Matekane Group of Companies Lesotho).

The FIN – Forbes Best of Africa Awards in connection with the Best of Africa event is an annual event held in New York City around The United Nations General Award (UNGA) meetings. Its essence is to shine more light on exceptional leaders with a track record of building global influence and businesses that have contributed considerable and positive impact to the advancement of Africa.

For over 20 years, Foreign Investment Network (FIN), a United Kingdom-based company has been a key driver of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for Africa and other developing economies. FIN is a consultant in Oil and Gas, Agriculture, Telecommunications, Metallurgical & Engineering Industries, Infrastructure, and Maritime for financing, project assessment, and risk analysis.

PROFILES OF THE AWARD RECIPIENTS

PAUL ADEFARASIN – FORBES BEST OF AFRICA MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR AWARD

Paul Adefarasin is a Christian Minister, Thought-Leader, Philanthropist, Author, and Speaker. He is the Founder of The House On The Rock, a multiracial and multifaceted non-denominational Church with 77 parishes and fellowships across Africa and Europe.

With more than 30 years of pastoral and visionary leadership experience, Paul is sought after to share his expertise across many sectors. For upwards of 20 years, he has hosted the program ‘Something Is About to Happen’, which airs across Africa, Europe, and North America on satellite television. He also maintains an active social media presence.

A profound motivational speaker and author, Paul has penned inspirational books including: ‘Something Is About to Happen’, ‘Change Your World’, ‘The Call for A Performing Generation (Revised)’, and ‘Hope on the Go’. He was also the Composer and Executive Producer of an album released by the music team of his Church entitled, ‘I Still Believe’.

Pastor Paul is also the Founder and President of the Rock Foundation, a charity committed to undertaking significant humanitarian and social responsibility initiatives including, prison reform, education, and healthcare. Paul has worked assiduously towards the release and rehabilitation of about 3,000 wrongfully imprisoned inmates through the Church’s prison ministry, which visits prisons across Nigeria.

For two decades plus, The Rock Foundation has organized weekly initiatives that deliver medical aid and food to the destitute, delinquent, and derelict youth, street-walkers, gang members (known as Area Boys in Nigeria, now known as Jesus Boys), and drug addicts; engaging, encouraging, and empowering them to participate in available vocational and skills acquisition programmes, technological and sustainability projects. Its inner-city outreaches have impacted about 200,000 families.

The Rock Foundation has built 100 computer laboratories – equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and technology. It has provided water boreholes in various primary schools across Lagos State. The Rock Foundation has become one of the favourite charities in hospitals, orphanages, and homes for the elderly within the state; due in part to its support through donations of equipment, food, welfare essentials and the annual organization of celebrations during festive seasons.

As the Covid pandemic challenged the world last year, the Church provided medical supplies and more than 15,000 PPE (personal protective equipment) to the local and state government, as part of its Covid-19 relief effort.

Paul is an innovative trailblazer, who conceptualised and delivered The Experience music concert, an annual event now in its 15th year, that has become the largest musical concert in Africa. It has a television viewership of millions; with millions more across 180 countries and territories tuning in online.

Paul Adefarasin is a committed participant in the inter-faith movement that seeks to promote religious understanding and foster tolerance on the Continent of Africa and beyond. He presently is the Lead Regional Co-Chair of the Africa Cabinet; a Member of the Global Council and a Member of The Executive 12 of Empowered21, which is the largest relational network of leaders of Spirit-Empowered Churches in the world.

A mentor to many successful, purpose-driven CEOs, Entrepreneurs, and Ministers, Paul is also steadfast in his determination to raise the next set of torch-bearers in every sphere of industry, thought and ministry. He serves in an advisory capacity to various leaders, policy-makers, and heads of Industry as he seeks to positively influence public policy. Paul works as a bridge-builder, facilitating the exchange of ideas with critical stakeholders, domestic and foreign.  An inspiring motivator, intelligent leader, and tireless advocate for the less fortunate, Paul epitomises servant leadership and is well-respected from the provincial streets of his community to the corridors of power.

Paul has been the recipient of an assortment of awards including the:

  • United Nations-backed Most Influential People of African Descent Award;
  • Achievers Award for Leadership Excellence by the Christian Association of Nigeria;
  • Transformation Award by the United Chaplains State of New York;
  • Leadership Medal of Honour in Philanthropy Award by the African Leadership Magazine;
  • Nigerian Red Cross Society Humanitarian Excellence Award;
  • National Sickle Cell Centre Diamond Award;
  • Award of Excellence by the Nigerian Prisons Service;
  • Lagos State Government Corporate Social Responsibility Award;
  • Times Heroes Award by Daily Times of Nigeria.

He was conferred with honorary citizenship of the State of Georgia and the State of South Carolina in the United States of America.

Paul Adefarasin is an Architect, who graduated from the University of Miami, Florida, USA. He is also a recipient of a Diploma in Christian Ministry from the International Bible Institute of London, England. He has been married to Ifeanyi for 26 years and they have three children: Hilda, Alvin, and Alexander.

Paul Adefarasin’s keynote address was based on LEADERSHIP and PHILANTHROPY. Here are some excerpts:

The FIN – Forbes Best of Africa Award is an encouraging award owing to the transformational work a Pastor does and the challenges that come with the office. This is because humans are more than biological entities; they are a convergence of genetics, cultural and psychological conditioning, history, nativity, and emotions. This implies that the transformation of humans across the continent requires extraordinary belief, exemplary, spiritual, and intellectual leadership.

The challenges of Africa extend beyond the locality of the area. They include famine, denudating poverty, environmental challenges, political ineptitude as well as the unfortunate mismanagement of resources, and the bulk of these problems lies in the dictatorship philosophy adopted by African Leaders.

Every leader must possess management skills and a compassionate heart as both works together to ensure that nations are well run in all ramifications. The leader should be able to manage resources, and also be compassionate.  A philanthropic disposition ought to accompany managerial skills. Leadership is therefore the combination of grey matter and red corpuscles.

Ruinous economy leading to a rise in GDP and a fall in gross domestic happiness is a result of dimensioning the people as just statistics. Instead, the government should improve the security and welfare of its people. Although these principles may not fit into the typical four-year tenure routine, they can yield fair allocation of resources, improved social services, and investment in the education system in the long run. These investments cannot be left to the states alone; faith-based organisations, individuals, private, and public sectors must also play their part to bridge the gap.

The poverty indices in Africa show that there are barrages of issues that require intervention. Therefore, we must be our brother’s and sister’s keepers, rise to keep our nation, and above all, show compassion. When Jesus said, “the poor you have always with you”, he was implying that opportunities will never be equal in life, and the opportunity will always beckon on us to be kind to our fellow humans.The most effective gospel is the gospel of care.

Philanthropy is Africa’s informal social security system and this is the reason why The Rock Foundation and House On The Rock have endeavored to identify and bridge the gaps in social care. We are also acting as a catalyst for other organizations in the faith-based, private, and public sectors to engage likewise as partners in our various localities.

Human needs are numerous and for a place like Africa, philanthropy creates opportunities for those who have little or none. Philanthropy shows us how much it means to be human and to care for each other. The creation of opportunity for exposure is partly what informed our annual organisation of what has become the largest musical festival in Africa, otherwise known as ‘The Experience,’ a gospel music concert. Today, the true range of its benefits are immeasurable but some of them include:

  • Affording local talent, the opportunity to showcase their ability and expose them to the world.
  • Creation of a means for African Americans to relate to their roots and get acquainted with African history and culture.
  • Acting as a catalyst for similar events across Africa
  • Creation of entrepreneurial opportunities that includes food, hospitality, clothing, memorabilia, security, technology, media and entertainment, facilities management, events management as well as logistics including aviation, ground transportation and local and international travel management.

In conclusion, it is important to highlight the fact that everything rises or falls because of the quality, or lack of it, in leadership. Africa requires bright and brilliant leaders that are not only visionary and profoundly inspirational, but also compassionately caring and boldly progressive if she is to attain the potential of her possibilities. House On The Rock’s vision is to transform Africa and the transformation will be advanced by devoting considerable effort and resources. In closing, this is more than just status or celebration, it is an enormous responsibility to continue to do more.

God bless Africa.

Other honourees were:

SAM MATEKANE – FORBES BEST OF AFRICA LEADING ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Sam Matekane, an entrepreneur and leading business magnet in Lesotho is the owner of Matekane Group of Companies. His company as of today has evolved into a multi-sector corporation embodying aviation, property development, mining, logistics supply chain, hospitality, farming, and aviation. Matekane popularly known as ‘brave Mosotho man” is Lesotho’s strongest competitor in the business world.

His resilience, tenacity, and pride for his nation have made him a successful leader across various industries. He is the founder of Maluti Sky Airline, which offers scheduled and charter flights. The airline was founded in 2009 as MGC Airlines, becoming the first privately owned airline in Lesotho.

His philanthropic works have seen him provide for the people of Lesotho during the early stages of the pandemic.

NANA KWAME BEDIAKO – FORBES BEST OF AFRICA SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP LEADERSHIP AWARD

Nana Kwame Bediako, a visionary, philanthropist, and industrialist is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kwarleyz Group – a conglomerate that houses brands such as Wonda World Estates, Petronia City development, New Africa Construction, Belfast City & Property Management, and the New Africa Philanthropic Foundation. Nana Kwame Bediako has recorded unparalleled success in Ghanian real estate with the development of over 500 residential and retail units in over 15 years.

He concurrently serves as a co-principal of the recently-launched Capital Nine Zero Fund. Nana Kwame Bediako is also the founder of The New Africa Foundation, a non-profit organization aimed at empowering a new generation of African leaders.

MAHMOOD AHMADU OON, MIOD – CORPORATE VISIONARY LEADERSHIP AWARD

Mahmood Ahmadu is a leading African entrepreneur and renowned philanthropist. He is the founder and Chairman of Online Integrated Solutions Ltd (OIS), a specialist visa application agency that processes online passports, visa processing, and technical support services for Governments.

Mahmood is a multi-field businessman with investment in businesses that cut across Mining, Real Estate, Construction, Agriculture, Bottling Water, E-education, E-healthcare, and Fintech sectors, spread across 53 countries on 5 continents.

A recipient of the Nigerian National Honour of the ‘Officer of the Order of the Niger’ (OON), Mahmood’s philanthropic activities have made it possible for hundreds of students to afford good quality education both locally in Africa and abroad.

He also won the Outstanding Leader Award from Forbes Best of Africa in 2020.

LEONARD NNAMDI STANLEY EKEH – FORBES BEST OF AFRICA LEADING TECH. ICON

Leo Stan Ekeh is an African leading tech entrepreneur and Founder/Chairman of the Zinox Group. A pioneer of the Desktop Publishing and Computer Graphics, Biometric Revolution for elections, WIMAX, Critical IT Solutions and e-Commerce, among others in Africa, Leo Stan Ekeh is the most distinguished African ICT personality with numerous awards and recognitions to his credit.

He has previously been honoured with the ICON OF HOPE award in 2001 and the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) in 2003 by President Olusegun Obasanjo, as well as the National Productivity Merit Award by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 for his sustained leadership in the ICT sector.

An economist and risk management expert, Mr Ekeh has remained at the forefront of enthroning digital democracy, promoting gender empowerment in Nigeria and beyond, while also touching many lives through the Leo Stan Ekeh Foundation.

WENDY ACKERMAN – FORBES BEST OF AFRICA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Wendy Ackerman is a pioneer who became the first woman director of a retail chain in South Africa. Her goal at the company was on the Group’s overall development, employee benefits, and welfare. She became an honorary life president on retirement in 2010.

Wendy and her husband, Raymond, played a vital role in rejecting apartheid-era legislation, by promoting workers, and arranging adequate housing for black employees.

She is a Trustee of the Ackerman Family Educational Trust Fund, assisting students from all over the country with bursaries for tertiary education. She is also a Founding Trustee of the Duet Endowment Trust, a joint endowment trust for the advancement and preservation of Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and Cape Town Opera.

Wendy is an environmentalist who is recognised by the South Africa Nature Foundation for her outstanding achievement.

Dr RAJAN MAHTANI – FORBES BEST OF AFRICA OUTSTANDING ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Dr Rajan is the Founder and Group Executive Chairman of the Mahtani Group incorporated in Zambia in 1981. A conglomerate with operations in Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, and other parts of the world ranging across various sectors such as Financial Services, Insurance, Energy, and Real Estate.

A Founder and Chairman of Prison Fellowship International- Zambia affiliate to Prison Fellowship International in Washington D.C, Dr Rajan is always looking after the welfare of inmates, ex-inmates and their families and advocating for a fair and effective criminal justice system.

He launched the Stephen Malama Award in 2013 as part of his contribution to the education sector; a prestigious annual award presented to the best graduating student at the Zambian Bar.

KEN SHARPE – FORBES BEST OF AFRICA AWARD OF INNOVATIVE CEO

Ken Sharpe has been involved in the growth of 100 businesses and currently owns more than 50 companies and 20 partnerships. Having started as a food distributor and soft drink manufacturer with products like Spring Valley mineral water and African Twist Soft Drinks, Ken is now is focused on real estate development and property.

Ken’s new vision is to consolidate property assets into the most prominent real estate development company in Zimbabwe. His goal is to ensure that quality and prestigious properties make an impact on the Harare skyline and the overall social-economic growth of the country.

He also has several projects and companies outside the country in services, property, tech, and alternative power generation.

CLAVER GATETE – FORBES BEST OF AFRICA AWARD OF EXCELLENCE

Ambassador Claver Gatete is the Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure who has also served as Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and had previously served as Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda. He also served as Rwanda’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Iceland. He is also currently a member of the Presidential Advisory Council.

He also served as the Secretary-General and Secretary to the Treasury in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Director-General for Economic and Social Affairs in the Presidency, Personal Representative of the President on NEPAD Steering Committee, Head of Africa Peer Review Mechanism, and National Economist at UNDP Rwanda.

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