Forbes Africa via its Twitter handle announced its pick for the coveted African of the Year award 2021. This time, the award went to the Ghanaian trailblazer, President Nana Akufo-Addo. Following the announcement, several Twitter users took to the platform to express their opinions. Surprisingly, not everyone thinks highly of the president. But before we come to that, here is what you should know about the award and why Forbes Africa believes that Nana Akufo deserves it.
The African of the Year Award
The Forbes African Person of The Year Award was instituted in 2011. The first edition of the award went to the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. The award which has 11 editions so far has placed many prominent Africans on the pedestal of public eyes.
Among these are Chairman and CEO of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, CEO of Equity Bank, Kenya, James Mwangi, former Minister of Finance and present DG of the World Trade Organization Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, and CEO of African Development Bank Akinwunmi Adesina who has won the award twice. Speaking of the event, Rakesh Wahi founder of Forbes Africa once said,
“ 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.”
Perhaps, this is why making the list of nominees for the award is as impressive as winning. In retrospect, two presidents have been nominated for this award. They are former Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli and former president of Mauritius Ameenah Gurib-Fakim. However, it wasn’t until 2018 that Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame broke the jinx and became the first African president to win the award. Once again, a President has emerged as the winner of this prestigious award, and here is why.
Why President Nana Akufo-Addo is the African of the Year
@NAkufoAddo, Ghana’s President, has repositioned the country in the global marketplace as one reliant on its own resources and strengths. Get your copy of FORBES AFRICA and read an exclusive interview with #NanaAkufoAddo
NOW AVAILABLE! pic.twitter.com/yGya1ETgjZ
— Forbes Africa (@forbesafrica) December 3, 2021
In its tweet, Forbes Africa said the President has “repositioned the country in the global marketplace…”. Under President Nana Akufo, Ghana has become one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. Ghana’s position as an economic foothold in Africa is mainly due to the diversification of its economy. Apart from oil, agriculture and mining products are now among Ghana’s major export products.
Also, the ongoing reforms have positioned Ghana as one of the most sought-after African countries for foreign investments. This has given Ghana’s economy a much-needed boost. Despite the sharp decline in economic activities worldwide, Ghana is still among the top 10 richest African countries by GDP in 2021.
Reactions Trailing the Decision
Despite the long list of achievements, Nana Akufo’s emergence as the African of the Year has drawn mixed reactions. Among his well-wishers are the president of the African Development Bank and a two-time winner of the award, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, and Former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Dr. Adesina praised the Ghanaian president for his leadership and for projecting Africa in a positive light.
Congratulations President @NAkufoAddo of Ghana on being named the African of the Year 2021 by the Forbes Africa Magazine. Thank you for your great leadership and all you do in positively projecting Africa. We are very proud of you, Your Excellency. 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 @forbesafrica https://t.co/TfAp8lX1Ao
— Akinwumi A. Adesina (@akin_adesina) December 4, 2021
— Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (@MaEllenSirleaf) December 6, 2021
The critics of the award
But while Dr. Adesina and a few others rained accolades on President Nana Akufo, there are many others who feel he hasn’t done enough to deserve the award. Some alluded to the fact that Forbes Africa has in the past praised individuals who turned out to be fraudsters. One of such instances was Obinwanne Okeke who was listed as one of Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 in its 2016 issue.
It’s now clear that, Akufo Addo pays international media to hype him and his government. First, Bloomberg wrote how Ghana’s economy is doing great without figures but Fitch exposed that with figures and now, Forbes Africa. All the major economic indicators of Ghanaians isn’t good
— ANNAN PERRY ARHIN (@AnnanPerry) December 3, 2021
The same Forbes Africa who's 30 under 30's are convicted felons 😷 https://t.co/tF6pEjb4Bd
— sunflower 🌻 (@dr__biba) December 6, 2021
Dear @forbesafrica, is this what you’re celebrating the crook of a leader Ghana has for a Prez?
Mind you, Ken Ofori-Atta is @NAkufoAddo’s direct cousin and doubles as Finance Minister! @WorldBank @business @Forbes @CNNPolitics @AfricaProg @POTUS @FelixKwakyeOfo1 @BBCAfrica pic.twitter.com/v7ShxgxrDm
— 🇨🇦The Real Serwaa Broni™ 🇬🇭 (@PrayForGh) December 5, 2021
It is indisputable that Nana Akufo Addo has done remarkably well to deserve the African of the Year award. Is there any other African that may be better qualified for the award? Perhaps, yes. Nevertheless, we hope this motivates other African leaders to follow his example in governance. Now we want to hear from you. Do you think the Ghanaian president deserves the award? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.