The emergence of Donald Kaberuka, 62, as Daily Trust African of the Year was made public by Chairman of the award committee and former President of Tanzania, Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, who announced the news at the UNECA Conference Centre, Addis Ababa during the plenary of the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF) last year.
He said Kaberuka was chosen in recognition of an innovative idea which led to the establishment of 'Africa 50 Fund' to speed-up the financing of infrastructure on the continent. He was chosen by the award committee out of a vast pool of nominees drawn from a wide spectrum of human endeavour within the African continent and in the Diaspora.
Expected to arrive Abuja today, Kaberuka, a Rwandan economist, is currently serving his second and final five-year term as President of the African Development Bank (AfDB). "He has done Africa proud through his idea of a domestically-financed development," Ahmed said about the winner.
Describing the process as "daunting but exciting," other members of the committee expressed enthusiasm for this year's unique list of nominees, which included exemplary Africans like Ridha Khadher, the famous Tunisian baker, based in Paris, who won a competition and was awarded the honour of providing baguettes for the French Presidency for a year. Then there was NoViolet Bulawayo, acclaimed Zimbabwean author whose "We Need New Names" is regarded as one of the finest novels of 2013, making her the first Zimbabwean and the only black African woman to be shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize.
Another interesting nominee is Africa's richest man, Aliko Dangote, who continues to expand his publicly traded Dangote Cement across the continent, recently announcing plans in recent months to build new plants in Kenya and Niger. With operations in 8 countries, it is the largest cement manufacturer in sub-Saharan Africa. In May 2013, Dangote said he would build a $9 billion oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Nigeria. He began trading commodities more than three decades ago using a loan from his uncle and he created Dangote Group.
Other nominees include Kenyan Abdul Haji, who following the infamous attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi on September 21st 2013 managed to rescue many trapped patrons and escorted them to safety, famously captured in a widely-circulated picture of a young girl running towards him. There also was Muriel Ahouré, from Côte d'Ivoire, who made history in 2013, winning a silver medal in the women's world 200 metres final at the Moscow World Athletics Championships in August 2013, becoming the first African woman to win a medal in the competition.
The award plaque and the prize sum of $50,000 (donated by the United Bank for Africa Plc) will be presented to the winner at a ceremony slated for tomorrow, January 15, in Abuja, making Kaberuka the sixth winner of the Daily Trust African of the Year award.
The award was initiated in 2008 to recognize and reward exemplary Africans for their extraordinary contributions to human development in any part of the continent. The general public can nominate any individual they feel has made an impact on the lives of Africans.
Past winners include Dr. Denis Mukwege of the Democratic Republic of Congo (2008), late pan-Africanist, Dr. Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem of Nigeria (2009), Mr. Danny Jordaan of South Africa (2010), Chief Justice of Niger, Mrs. Fatimata Bazeye (2011) and former South African President, Mr. Thabo Mbeki (2012).