By Adedapo Adesanya
The President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Mr Benedict Oramah, has been awarded the 2021/22 Zik Prize in Professional Leadership by the Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC).
In a citation, Professor Pat Utomi, Head of the PPRAC Zik Prize Selection Committee, said that Mr Oramah is being recognised for his remarkable piloting of Africa’s premier multilateral financial institution to deliver on its mandate of boosting economic expansion in Africa, by financing and promoting intra- and extra-African trade and accelerating industrialisation.
“A key promoter of the AfCFTA as Africa’s pathway to industrialisation, he championed the introduction of a Pan-African Payment and Settlement System that was adopted by the African Union as the payment and settlement platform to underpin the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“He has also led the onboarding of 500 of the continent’s 600 regulated commercial banks into its Afreximbank Trade Finance Facility, placing it in the vortex of the most extensive bank messaging network on the continent,” Professor Utomi said.
“The scale of the Bank’s intervention in support of African countries at times of global crisis is unprecedented,” he said, adding, “It introduced, in year 2020, the Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility, with disbursed funds at more than $7 billion, and, in year 2022, the Ukraine Crisis Adjustment Trade Financing Programme for Africa, a $4 billion programme of credit facilities to manage the impacts of the Ukraine crisis on African economies and businesses,” he continued.
Speaking after receiving the award, Mr Oramah said that he cherished the honour bestowed on him because he valued the principles, philosophy and values of Dr Azikiwe who lived an extraordinarily exemplary life.
“Dr Azikiwe and his colleagues fought tirelessly, with courage, intellect, and determination for the independence and political emancipation of our continent.”
“What they did was just the beginning of the journey. The true emancipation will occur when we attain economic independence. As a leader of one of the continent’s key institutions created to help deliver development, I’m mindful of the role that we play,” he added.
Also honoured at the ceremony were Zambian President Mr Hakainde Hichilema as the winner of the Zik Prize in Political Leadership. Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Nigeria, who received the Zik Prize in Good Governance; Mr Taiwo Afolabi, Chairman of SIFAX Group, awarded the Zik Prize in Entrepreneurial Leadership; and Mrs Aisha Atiku Baguda, who was honoured with the Zik Prize in Humanitarian Leadership.
Past recipients have included notable leaders like President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, President Nwalimu Julius Nyerere of Zambia, former OAU Secretary General Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, President Sam Nujoma of Namibia, President Nelson Mandela of South Africa and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
The Leadership Awards were instituted in 1995 in honour of the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first President of Nigeria, to recognise and encourage outstanding leadership on the African continent and in the African Diaspora. It was not held in 2022 as a mark of respect to the passing of two members of the Advisory Board, Prince Emeka Obasi and Professor George Obiozor.