13 June 2011

Africa: Amadou Mahtar Ba Named to 'Most Influential' List

Photo: allAfrica
Amadou Mahtar Ba, AllAfrica co-founder and chair.

AllAfrica co-founder Amadou Mahtar Ba has been selected one of 100 'most influential' Africans by New African magazine. Mr. Ba currently chairs the AllAfrica board and serves as chief executive of the African Media Initiative (AMI).

The compilation, which appears in the June edition, features "top influencers, opinion-shapers, doers, agitators, groundbreakers and myth busters who are shaping the face Africa," according to the London-based magazine. The names appear in no particular order and are categorized under business and finance, politics, music, science and technology, media, and authors and poets.

A Senegalese national, Ba is listed in the media category along with Trevor Ncube, deputy executive chairman of the Mail and Guardian in South Africa and Nduka Obaigbena, CEO of THISDAY in Nigeria.

AllAfrica Global Media operates one of the Internet's largest public content sites – allAfrica.com – the web's most popular Africa destination. In addition, AllAfrica distributes news through commercial services, which collectively reach tens of millions of people worldwide. AllAfrica's audience includes policymakers, business executives, international investors, analysts, diplomats, media professionals, scholars and activists – decision makers of all kinds.

The African Media Initiative (AMI) is a Nairobi-based NGO working to strengthen the media landscape by linking media owners, publishers and journalists in Africa.

"This is the first Top 100 Influential Africans issue of New African," New African editor Baffour Ankomah said in a statement. "Our continent has produced, and continues to produce some impressive individuals from all walks of life who are having a profound impact not only on Africa but on the international community."

He said the list "is not necessarily an endorsement as such." The magazines purpose is to highlight "the diversity of skills, talents and personalities" of those on the continent "who are driving change across the continent and beyond."

Responding to his selection, Ba said: "I feel privileged to be in the  New African Magazine list and consider this recognition as a call to intensify my efforts to help improve the continent's media environment and  promote democratic governance, economic and human development."

Last month, as one of two African media executives invited to the pre-G8 Internet summit in Paris with top executives from Google, Facebook, Wikipedia and other top companies, Ba was one of five participants to pose a question to the host, French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

"May we count on you to insist that the Internet is not only an accelerator of growth but is also a wonderful tool for development and for the entrenchment of democratic governance – and therefore not 'the enemy'?" Ba asked Sarkozy. "In many countries, we see a lack of investment in Internet infrastructure, and, all too often, its development is actually blocked."

The president responded:   "The African continent will have two billion people in 30 or 40 years. Among the two billion people, more than 70% will be under 20 years old. Africa is the world's youth. Who would be crazy enough to think that young Africans would not be first to want to develop the Internet? You can count on us to say so. And I'll tell you something else - in Africa, as elsewhere, the old ways are over. Nobody can control or stop the Internet (except perhaps, for a time, the madman of North Korea who keeps his country in the Middle Ages)."

Sarkozy continued: "But Africa is 12 kilometers from Europe through the Strait of Gibraltar. The Internet will spread like wildfire, and with it, the yearning for growth, the yearning for knowledge, the yearning for democracy. It is my absolute conviction that those who want to prevent that will be swept away. I would add that the development of Africa - and especially for all those children who need instruction - the Internet is a formidable tool for the dissemination of knowledge by African teachers. Do not doubt for a minute the power of the revolution that is underway."

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