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Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture, has been named African of the Year for 2019 by Forbes Magazine.

The award was delivered to Mr. Adesina at the All Africa Business Leaders Awards, held in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Friday. The event is hosted by Forbes on an annual basis to honor top performers in Africa’s business community.

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In a tweet he put out afterward, Adesina said that he was “humbled and greatly honored to be named African of the year by Forbes Africa.”

He also thanked the staff at the Africa Development Bank for the roles they have played in making the institution achieve its aims.

“I give a big ‘High 5’ to all the amazing staff and highly supportive Boards of Governors and Directors of the African Development Bank Group,” he said in a follow-up tweet. “We continue to fast-track Africa’s development!”

In an interview with the CNBC, he promised that the award would inspire him and his colleagues at the bank to push for development on the continent.

“It’s a down payment that ensures that we will do even greater things in the years ahead.”

This year’s award will be the second of its kind collected by Adesina. He had previously won the Forbes African of the Year Award in 2013, while he was Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. At the time, he was hailed for introducing reforms to the country’s agricultural sector.

He had become a minister in 2010 under the Goodluck Jonathan Administration. His tenure is remembered for the introduction of the e-wallet system, which reduced corruption in Nigeria’s fertilizer distribution networks and allowed farmers to reap the benefits of the system.

Before his appointment as minister, Akinwumi Adesina was a senior scientist at the Rockefeller Foundation. He had previously served as a senior economist at the West African Rice Development Association (WARDA) in the Ivory Coast.

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He has a Bachelors’ Degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Ife, and a Ph.D. (also in Agricultural Economics) from Purdue University in the United States. 

Adesina has bagged several awards besides the ones he’s picked up from Forbes. This year, he’s also won the Sunhak Prize for his efforts to promote food security in Africa. In 2017, he won the World Food Prize.

He has been also been conferred with honorary degrees from the University of Alberta in Canada, the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, and Franklin and Marshall College, USA.

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This article was first published on 9th December 2019


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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