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Mitchell Elegbe

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

The All African Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) has named Mitchell Elegbe, the Managing Director of Nigerian card payment firm Interswitch, the 2012 West Africa Business Leader of the Year.

According to the organisers of the event, AABLA is an initiative of CNBC Africa and serves as a platform to discover business leaders who are creating a culture of entrepreneurship, developing best practices and carving powerful and sustainable business models in the Nigerian and global economy.

To emerge winner of the coveted awards, leaders from various industries submitted names of nominees who were then shortlisted by a panel that comprised Atedo Peterside, Chairman, ANAP Foundation, Bismarck Rewane, CEO, Financial Derivatives Company and Frank Nweke Jnr, DG, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG).

The organisers explained that to emerge winner in the West Africa Business Leader of the Year category, the candidate would have exemplified outstanding leadership in business, achieved positive financial results, increased shareholder value, provided sound management, proven corporate governance, demonstrated innovation, demonstrated best business practices and accountability, integrity and vision.

Other winners and categories were West Africa Business Woman of the Year: which  Funke Opeke, MD of MainOne Cable Company bagged. Others are West Africa Entrepreneur of the Year: Ernest Nnaemeka Azudialu, MD of Nestoil; Lifetime Achievement Award: Tayo Adenirokun former MD of GTBank; and West Africa Young Business Leader of the Year,  Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia (Oxford & Beaumont).

“Few things in life are entirely the work of just one person and this is no exception. I therefore pay tribute to the enormous contributions made by the team at Interswitch, our esteemed customers without which, none of this would have been possible. I thank everyone who thought me worthy to receive this award,” Elegbe said.

Guests at the event were captains of industry and leaders in the private sector. Also in attendance were Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state, who gave the keynote address and Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State.

Head West Africa, CNBC Africa, Frederic Van De Vyver said in his vote of thanks, “We are very happy to celebrate leaders that have made a difference in the West African economies within their strategic sectors such as ICT, cashless economy, local content and so on”.

The East and Southern African AABLA regionals will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, and Cape Town, South Africa, respectively. The winners of each region automatically become finalists in the AABLA grand finale to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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