BILLIONAIRE Nigerian businessman, Aliko Dangote, was last week named as the Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2014.
Other finalists of the most coveted award were Thuli Madonsela, South Africa’s Public Protector, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian author, Arunma Oteh, Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria and Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank.
In selecting Dangote, the panel of judges noted that “Aliko Dangote is a lion of Africa in terms of business. He is second to none when it comes to investing in Africa, not just Nigeria. He is also a capitalist with a big heart. He puts his money where his mouth is and his foundation is a step forward for a man who wants to make a difference on the continent.”
This was Dangote’s fourth nomination for the prestigious awards.
Other past finalists include his Highness Dr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (2011), James Mwangi (2012) and Akinwumi Adesina (2013). Also feted during the event was Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank. Kaberuka, who received the lifetime achievement award.
Chairman, CMA Investment Holding, Rakesh Wahi, described Forbes as a brand, synonymous with entrepreneurship, inspiration, success, failure, getting up after failure and never giving up despite all the odds.
He said Forbes highlights journeys of hope; of trials and tribulations of people who despite all challenges have the courage and determination to see their dreams to fruition.
“This is our fourth Person of the Year Event. The mission of this event is to honor one exceptional leader from the African continent, who has made an impact not only on the industry he or she serves, but who also has touched the lives of people, and in doing so is a role model for future generations of business leaders. The person who we are about to honor today, personifies all the values of the Forbes brand,” he said.
While giving his acceptance speech, Dangote said he considered it an honour to be nominated for the award and thanked the organisers for the privilege of choosing him as the “Forbes Man of the Year.”
“My thanks also go to my family for their unquantifiable support over the years; my diligent staff for their uncommon dedication to duty; my fellow Africans for believing in us; and my numerous friends across the globe, who have been a source of inspiration. I will also like to specially recognise and commend the other nominees for making it up to this stage. Their achievement is no mean feat, given the quality of the award.”
Revealing that Dangote Group is already in 16 African countries, he assured that the Group will continue to expand its footprints across the continent because “we believe that it is only Africans themselves that can develop Africa for the Africans.”
Dangote added: “Of course there are challenges, but which are not unsurmountable as long as we stay united in our resolve to overcome them. If we all join hands together, we can emancipate Africa from poverty, ignorance and disease – the triple obstacles to our development as a people.”