The 2022 African Genius Awards (AGA) shortlist of finalists includes 31 Africans working to boost the continent and its people.
The African Genius Awards, which reward exceptional Africans working to advance Africa’s competitiveness, problem-solving skills, and self-love, are run in a partnership between Plus 94 Research and Priority Performance Projects and the University of Pretoria (UP). The awards are being held for a second year, and winners will be announced at a ceremony hosted by 702’s Bongani Bingwa at the University of Pretoria’s Future Africa Institute on Africa Day, 25 May.
“The public was urged to nominate Africans who have made an outstanding contribution towards the realisation of African self-determination, dignity, and exceptionalism,” said Dr Sifiso Falala, CEO of Plus 94 Research and Priority Performance Projects. “An ‘African Genius’ is defined as any individual who possesses unique characteristics and skills and has used them to address challenges or to impact African societies in ways that are uplifting, transformative and build the esteem of Africans, and that inspire them to make significant contributions to the continent and its countries’ development in different ways.”
UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe said, “Africa is rich in talent, and its people need to come up with solutions to its own problems, by becoming a knowledge economy. Furthermore, Africa has the youngest population and will be a source of human resources for the rest of the world. The AGA serves as an inspiration to young people on the continent to be innovative and resilient, despite the continent’s challenges.”
The 31 shortlisted finalists for the 2022 awards are:
Abdulai Yirah Marah (Sierra Leone), a civil engineer and young technocrat. He is the Chief Adviser of Fourah Bay College Engineering Society, a former engineer at Archdesignsl, and former volunteer at EducAid Sierra Leone.
Adrian Gore (South Africa), founder and CEO of South Africa’s leading medical insurer, Discovery Holdings, which provides health insurance for more than 200 000 companies and close to two million people.
Alhaji Ahmad Siraj Bah (Sierra Leone), a social entrepreneur and CEO of Ragsul Trading in eastern Sierra Leone.
Dr Akinwumi Adesina (Nigeria), an economist who is currently serving as the President of the African Development Bank. He previously served as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Ali Mazrui (Kenya), a late Kenyan-born American academic, professor, and political writer on African and Islamic studies, and North-South relations.
Arnold Caulker (Sierra Leone), an innovator who built an inverter generator from scratch using trash.
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu (Ethiopia), a businessperson, founder and executive director of SoleRebels, Africa’s “fastest-growing footwear company”.
David Kakpama Sam (Sierra Leone), a civil engineer and employee of International Consulting Services.
Dr David Moinina Sengeh (Sierra Leone), Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and Chief Innovation Officer for the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation in Sierra Leone.
Emmanuel Alie Mansaray (Sierra Leone), a university student and inventor of a solar-powered car.
Ibrahim Alusine Kebe (Sierra Leone), an author, researcher, public speaker, and lecturer at the University of Sierra Leone. He is the founder and host of Meet Professionals SL Ltd.
Ishmeal Alfred Charles (Sierra Leone), a former child soldier who helps Sierra Leoneans struggling in poverty as his country recovers from a civil war.
Joseph-Achille Mbembe (Cameroon), a philosopher, political theorist, and public intellectual who is Research Professor in History and Politics at the Wits Institute for Social and Economy Research at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
Kelvin Doe (Sierra Leone), an engineer known for teaching himself engineering at the age of 12 and building his own radio station in Sierra Leone.
Dr Mary Queen Komoda (Ghana), a motivational speaker, mentor, trainer, and business coach with strong leadership experience in the direct-selling industry, and a passion for health and wellness.
Mohamed A Kamara (Sierra Leone), co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Light Salone Innovation, and an MPhil student in energy studies at the University of Sierra Leone.
Nana Kwame Bediako (Ghana), an entrepreneur, industrialist, philanthropist, and real estate mogul.
Dr Ngalula Sandrine Mubenga (DRC), an engineer, professor of electrical engineering technology, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and government official leading the electrification initiative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Prof Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (Kenya), a writer who is considered one of East Africa’s leading novelists. His popular Weep Not, Child (1964) was the first major novel in English by an East African.
Nourane Fotsing Moluh Hassana (Cameroon), a politician, entrepreneur, and member of the Cameroonian Party for National Reconciliation in the National Assembly since March 2020.
Olabanke Subair (Nigeria), founder of Cyrus45 Factory, a Nigerian company that focuses on up-cycling waste into bespoke and ultra-modern furniture pieces while also contributing to the reduction of environmental pollution.
Osaretin Agbonavbare (Nigeria), a human-computer interaction specialist, founder of Broadband Career Management in AI, and co-founder of Boldpay Investment Ltd.
Professor Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba (Kenya), an advocate of the high courts of Kenya and Tanzania, prolific lawyer, and law lecturer at the University of Nairobi, who has been the Director of The Kenya School of Laws since 2014.
Paulin Hountondji (Benin), a Beninese French philosopher, politician and academic considered one of the most important figures in the history of African philosophy.
Runcie C.W. Chidebe (Nigeria), an oncology researcher, cancer control advocate, and psychologist at Project PINK BLUE – Health & Psychological Trust Centre in Abuja, Nigeria.
Dr Umar Johnson (USA), a doctor of clinical psychology and certified school psychologist in the United States who is considered an expert on the education and mental health of African and African American children.
Vusi Thembekwayo (South Africa), a business mogul, global business speaker, author, and CEO of MyGrowthFund Venture Partners.
Waterz Yidana (Ghana), a multiple-award-winning playwright and poet. He has written several articles and essays that examine social, political and religious issues.
Wesley Ndiath (USA) runs a non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting the environment, with a focus on Africa.
Wiselady Marikhela (South Africa), an entrepreneur, nurse, and early childhood development practitioner who is pursuing her LLB Degree.
Prof Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), a playwright, novelist, poet, and essayist in the English language. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, becoming Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature.
The inaugural AGA ceremony took place virtually from UP’s Future Africa Institute on 25 May 2021. This year 31 finalists were shortlisted from 69 people nominated by the public and the Adjudication Committee. “This is almost three times the number of entries received in 2021,” Dr Falala said. “The top four participating countries were Sierra Leone, South Africa, Nigeria, and the USA, with common fields or skills being recognised in leadership, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and innovation.”
Three winners were honoured in 2021: the late South African Black Consciousness leader Bantu Stephen Biko, Nigerian business magnate Aliko Mohammed Dangote, and Nigerian award-winning author Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe.
Dr Falala described the AGA as “truly a continental event. The continent’s capacity to rally behind a common cause has always been understated. We look forward to an even more spectacular awards evening on 25 May.”