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Business Awards

Image The 2010 Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards recognised 11 journalists and editors who provide high quality coverage of the business environment in Africa.


For the past six years, the Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards (DABRA) has provided an opportunity for journalists and news organizations reporting on Africa to be recognized for their efforts.

Now in its seventh year, and with a record 770 entries in 2010, Diageo, the world's leading premium drinks company, selected 11 journalists and editors for awards at a recent ceremony in London. The awards are a celebration of journalists and news organisations that have gone the extra mile to promote the African continent, with the large number of entries demonstrating increased reporting and competition in these Awards.

The winners from the eleven categories came from nine different countries, including the winner of Media of the Year, which went to Business Day in Nigeria. Peter Guest, editor of This is Africa, was named as Journalist of the Year and the Best Newcomer title was awarded to South African Gemma Ware, writing for The Africa Report.

The Untold Story of Africa

Diageo is the world's leading premium drinks business with a collection of beverage alcohol brands across spirits, wines, and beer categories including Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Smirnoff, J&B, Baileys and Captain Morgan.

The awards are a celebration of journalists and news organisations that have gone the extra mile to promote the African continent.


Diageo's brands are enjoyed in more than 40 African countries, with Nigeria representing the second largest Guinness market in the world. Diageo's Africa region is responsible for nearly a third of Diageo's net sales of beer globally, and with over 4,500 employees, accounts for around 15% of Diageo's workforce worldwide. Several of the larger Diageo companies in Africa are quoted on local stock exchanges.

As a global company with a strong presence in Africa, Diageo aims to support broader socio-economic development across the continent.

According to Paul Walsh, Chief Executive Officer of Diageo plc and Chair of the judging panel, "Very few consumer companies have the footprint, the leadership, the brands and the talent that Diageo has in Africa. We recognise that for Africa to develop, and for companies like Diageo to grow, we must do business sustainably."

Helping to make that happen, he says, is his company's mandate.

"For us, that means being a responsible business that aids broader socio-economic development. We all have a role in ensuring that happens, including the media. It is for that reason that I continue to value and support the Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards."



The keynote speaker at the Awards, Ms. Obiageli Ezekwesili, Vice President of the Africa Region at the World Bank Group, pointed out the importance of the media in changing perceptions about Africa.

"It is obvious that the media in Africa - as much as the international press - needs to be part of changing perceptions about the continent," she said. "The days of Africa being seen as a place where potential is yet to be realized, or just simply as a destination for aid, must be put behind us. The reality today is that Africa is a viable business destination with a large and mainly untapped market, offering excellent investment returns and diverse opportunities for business. That's the untold story of Africa, and the media has an obligation to bring it to a wider audience."

Looking Beyond the Headlines

In a brief address to the audience, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development Stephen O'Brien noted that, too often, news about Africa in the UK is negative.

"Yet Africa's rich culture and vibrant, growing economy is a good news story for those willing to look beyond the headlines," he said. "These awards are a great opportunity to celebrate the work of those journalists who scratch below the surface and show Africa for how it really is today - a continent that is looking to the future and open for business."

The 2010 Awards were launched in conjunction with a survey of independent media owners across Africa and, according to Nick Blazquez, Managing Director of Diageo Africa, the results revealed an increasing demand for business news about Africa and showed an increase in the diversity and flexibility of journalists, with the increase in availability of the internet also changing how people access news.

'The reality today is that Africa is a viable business destination with a large and mainly untapped market, offering excellent investment returns and diverse opportunities for business.'


"Across Africa we are seeing an increase in the public's appetite for business news and information, and an associated investment in business reporting by media outlets," he noted. "The quality and quantity of entries this year has been extremely encouraging and we look forward to ongoing growth and strength in the business media across Africa."

The Award winners, who each received a bronze statue titled "News" by the sculptor Loni Kreuder and a cheque for £500, represent those leading the way in international business reporting on Africa and, says Blazquez, "the Awards have an important role to play in shaping opinions and helping to create an environment for African business to succeed."

The 2010 winners of the Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards include:


'Zimbabwe catches on to Facebook' Iden Wetherell (Global Post, Zimbabwe/USA)


'Ask Nigeria's Lamido Sanusi' David Stead and team (BBC World Service, Africa Have Your Say, UK)


'The Scramble for Blue Gold' Kerry Dimmer (African Decisions, South Africa)


'Hunger looms as biofuels take root in Uganda' Francis Kagolo (New Vision, Uganda)


'Land grabbing: The plunder of public beaches' Philip Mwakio (The Financial Journal, Kenya)


'China Takes African Market by Storm' Felix Dela Klutse (Daily Guide Newspaper, Ghana)


Business Day Nigeria (Nigeria)


A full list of winners can be found at: www.diageoafricabusinessreportingawards.com.

Rounding up a year of accolades, Interims for Developmentscoops highly contested UK Trade & Industry sponsored Award

Frances Williams, the Ghanaian CEO of London-based company Interims for Development was named ‘Rising Star of the Year 2005’ at the fiercely-contested UK Trade & Investment Black Enterprise Awards in October 2005, in London.  This award honours exceptional business achievements by an individual or business with outstanding skills, professionalism and perseverance.

ImageThe UK Trade & Investment Black Enterprise Award is the latest in a string of major accolades received by the company in 2005 alone. Described by the UK media as “the Rolls Royce of business awards”, Black Enterprise Awards are the only national, independent business awards event honoring African and Caribbean entrepreneurs.

In July, Williams was also named ‘Business Innovator of the Year 2005’ by the Ghana Professional Achievers Awards, held annually in London to showcase Ghana’s businesses and professionals.  And in February, Williams received the prestigious Gold Award for Innovative Capacity Building at the British Female Inventor & Innovator conference organised by the Global Women Inventors and Innovators Network (GWIIN).

Officially launched in Ghana in April 2003 by the Ghana Government’s Minister for Private Sector Development, Interims for Developmentworks with African businesses and international companies operating in Africa to support their Human Resources, business development and capacity building needs. 

Uniquely, the company taps into the expertise of professionals in the UK, and elsewhere, who join the African company as Interim Managers to take on specific projects or provide in-house training for short periods.  Clients, such as Heineken International, Diageo Africa, UNDP-UNESCO, Kenana Knitters Ltd. and Guinness Ghana Ltd., have been drawn from Ghana and many other parts of Africa and from a diversity of sectors including textiles, mining, brewing, international development and financial services. 

Expressing her delight at winning the Award, Williams said.  “We are truly pleased to win this prestigious award which recognizes our achievements in offering a new and distinctive way of addressing the business and technical skills crisis in Africa’s emerging economies.  We hope that this additional recognition will encourage more organisations in Africa to invite us to support their technical, skills, and human resources needs.”

When it comes to the subject of Africa, balanced reporting in the media is often hard to find and, with a few exceptions, there is little reporting of business in Africa in the international media.  Successfully promoting external investment in Africa means addressing the negative stereotyping and one-dimensional reporting of the continent.

The Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards, which were first launched in 2004 by Diageo, the leading premium drinks company, were established to recognise and reward journalists and editors providing quality coverage of the business environment in Africa and promoting a more balanced view of opportunity in Africa.  The 2005 Awards were presented at London’s Guildhall in July.

The ceremony, hosted by Diageo Chairman Lord Blyth, was attended by over 200 people from the worlds of business, media, government and civil society. Stressing the importance of Africa to Diageo’s global business, the Chairman hoped that, by promoting more widespread reporting of business in Africa, the awards would encourage potential investors to look more closely at the opportunities Africa has to offer.  Diageo has a strong presence in Africa.  Guinness, one of its major brands, is brewed in over 20 countries around the continent and exported to many others.

ImageThe keynote speaker, HE Paul Boateng, British High Commissioner to South Africa, urged journalists to tell "the whole story" of Africa. "Africa is not a single place," he said. "It is very complex and its potential is wondrous. We all hope in 2005 that that potential is unlocked."

Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, Executive Head of NEPAD, underlined the need to attract more investment to Africa. "These awards have been established by a company that knows Africa to be a welcoming destination," said Professor Nkuhlu. "I applaud Diageo for this innovative approach to encourage more prolific reporting of African business in the international media."

Diageo Africa’s Managing Director, Nick Blazquez, presented awards to Issac Umunna of Africa Today for Best Published Feature (‘A Partnership of Giants’) and Grant Ferrett and Caroline Pare of BBC Newsnight for Best Television Feature (‘Coca-Cola comes to Mogadishu’). 

Editor and journalist Anver Versi who won two awards (Best Publication ‘Africa Business’ and Best Journalist) spoke of the challenge to the media to tell the whole story of Africa. 

"Unfortunately, coverage of Africa often bears little resemblance to the Africa we know. Africa has enormous potential. We haven’t tried to portray Africa in a positive way, just as we know it."

Development recognised for its work in Africa

Recognition of its unique approach to building skills and capacity came with the recent selection of Interims for Developmentby GWIIN (the Global Women Innovators and Inventors Network) for the 2005 Gold Award for Capacity Building at its recent British exhibition and awards in London.

Imagenterims for Development was set up in 2002 in response to the needs expressed by African private and public sector organisations for the technical skills and expertise needed to advance the continent’s development agenda. 

“We established Interims for Development to support African companies to grow and develop their businesses,” explains Frances Williams, Chief Executive of the company.  “One of the key reasons for the lack of development in Africa is the scarcity of technical and managerial systems and skills within our businesses and institutions.” 

Since its inception Interims for Developmenthas worked with both local African companies and with international companies operating in Africa.  Assignments in Africa have included providing Human Resources advisory services, developing and implementing business development and training programmes as well as capacity building for companies across sectors as diverse as textiles, mining, brewing, international development and financial services.

Through its work, the company aims at contributing to business growth and thereby to poverty reduction. 

“Poverty results when access to the means of creating wealth is restricted or denied.  The African continent is rich in natural resources and has a wealth of talent in its human resources.  Successfully addressing the barriers restricting people from creating wealth will reduce poverty over time,” says Ms. Williams.  “Sometimes the barriers are institutional; sometimes the barriers relate to people not being skilled or not being sufficiently skilled in the right areas to create wealth.”

Recognising that a successful organisation employs more people and provides the financial resources to tackle poor health, education and social dislocation, Interims’mandate is to work with African businesses to enhance the capacity of their human resources to grow the business and generate further employment. 

 In terms of its future projects the company, says its CEO, aims to build local African capacity to address issues of poor governance. 

“Organisational systems for combating corruption in many parts of Africa can be weak.  In 2004 we delivered a seminar in Ghana on ‘Understanding and Combating Money laundering’ to address this aspect of corruption and also developed a successful workshop for implementing corporate ethics and CSR for a major African business.  We are currently developing a programme designed to build capacity in African local and central government to help create awareness of good governance and to strengthen anti-corruption measures.”

“Africans have enormous potential to translate the continent’s natural riches into strong economies and thriving societies.  What we focus on is helping to make that transition happen by building on the capacity and skills of Africa’s talent.”

As a company run by Africans based in the UK, accessing the skills of qualified Africans in the Diaspora for the continent forms a key part of the Interims agenda. In response to interest from younger, less experienced people to contribute to African development, the company established its Graduates for Development programme in early 2004.  Although less seasoned than the typical Interim, young graduates with high potential provide affordable short-term skilled resources for small and medium sized African enterprises.

The company also works in partnership to assist qualified young Africans in the UK to overcome barriers to obtaining highly skilled employment and facilitates internship opportunities with employers in Africa. 

Such internships offer the receiving businesses inexpensive skilled human resources and provide interns with experience and networking opportunities as well as an entry point for the eventual return of their much-needed skills back into Africa.

Following the inaugural meeting of the Ghana-UK Business Forum in London in late 2004 to highlight investment opportunities between Ghana and the UK, awards were presented to UK-based Ghanaians from various fields of professional achievement. 

Mr. Kwabena Baah-Duodu, the Deputy High Commissioner for Ghana to the UK, was the special guest at the evening gala that included the President of the Association of Ghana Industries Mr. Prince Kofi Kludjeson, the Presidents of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council and National Chamber of Commerce and senior representatives of the Ghanaian Ministry for Private Sector Development.

Awards for achievement were presented to Ghanaian professionals from numerous sectors including retail, property and the media.

Reporting Africa - Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards 2004

Diageo champions a positive image for Africa through its Business Reporting Awards

While African markets make up a significantly increasing part of global investment portfolios, the branding of Africa and the reporting of African business in the international media is scant and predominantly negative. 

In July 2004, at a presentation in London attended by senior figures in media and commerce, Diageo Africa presented awards to recognise outstanding broadcasts, publications, features and journalism on Africa.  The Diageo Africa Business Awards for international news agencies and journalists aim to focus attention on the shortfall in business reporting in Africa and to encourage more international correspondents to report on the continent’s business environment. 

With 20% of Diageo’s worldwide workforce located in Africa and recognising the role of the media in building investor confidence in the continent, Diageo established the Diageo Africa Business Awards as part of a broader initial three-year programme to support positive reporting of Africa and to build capacity among aspiring broadcast journalists.

Award winners included Shola Olowu, Egon Cossou and Neil Drake of the BBC for the series ‘Ten years on: a South African story’, Robert Guest of The Economist for Best Journalist in ‘How to make Africa smile’ and BBC News Online for best publication/programme.

Presenting the awards alongside Diageo Africa’s Managing Director, David Hampshire, was Thaninga Shope-Linney, the Communications and Marketing General Manager for the NEPAD Secretariat. 

Congratulating Diageo, Ms. Shope-Linney noted that “these awards are evidence of the entrepreneurial vision which the private sector can contribute to mobilising the capital, technology and human skills which Africa requires.”

positioning of Africa


Entrenched stereotypes of Africa are damaging the continent’s ability to attract investment.  It is time for a new African story to be told,” said Paul Walsh, CEO for Diageo Africa, at the recent Awards event held in London to recognise and reward journalists and editors providing high quality coverage of the business environment in Africa.

In his opening address, Walsh, who heads the global drinks giant’s operations in Africa, spoke of the urgent need to address what he called “the misconceptions of Africa” and to give voice to “the positive stories that often struggle to be heard.”

The Diageo Business Reporting Awards aim to promote a more balance view of opportunity in Africa.

Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards

Launched in 2004, this event marked the third in a series of Awards sponsored by Diageo.  The company, whose brands include Guinness, Johnny Walker and Smirnoff, is a significant investor in Africa and is a strong champion of investment in the region.  Pointing out the extent of Diageo’s success in Africa and the benefits that accrue to investors, Walsh said, “Africa is rapidly expanding.  In 2005 the region grew by more than 5%, supported by record flows of foreign investment.”  His company’s optimism about Africa is reflected across the continent, he added, and cited a poll conducted in 2005 by The Economist which revealed that 60% of Africans believed that things would get better for them. 

‘Improving Perceptions is not a Panacea’

“Challenging Africa’s image problems is one of the continent’s key challenges,” said Walsh. Recognising that negative stereotypes are impeding Africa’s capacity to attract investment, he said, the need to profile positive investment stories is critical to shifting perceptions.

The Diageo Business Reporting Awards aim to promote a more balance view of opportunity in Africa.  This requires not only the reporting of the continent’s challenges but also its many successes. Business – particularly those that are doing well in Africa – need to do and say more about their success to counter the preponderance of negative stories about Africa.

“Just as the media can do more, businesses can do more,” said Walsh.  “Companies like us have to be ambassadors for Africa.”

While conceding that improving perception “is not a panacea”, Walsh stressed that events such as the Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards that served to highlight success in Africa represent “a major and real step in the right direction.”

2006 Award Winners Best Published Feature
'Chinese influence in Africa' (Reuters)
'An exceptional piece of writing on a topic of crucial importance to Africa's economic development.'

Best Television Feature
'Africa's Chinese investment' (Channel 4 / ITN)
'A timely and expertly produced feature presenting the opportunities and challenges presented by China's rapidly expanding interest in Africa.'

Best Radio Feature
'ICT and Africa' (BBC World Service)
'A fascinating report into how information technology is changing the way Kenyans live and work.'

Best Website
Business Day Nigeria (www.businessdayonline.com)
'A good mixture of news and features, with informative content presented in a way that is visually appealing and easy to navigate.'

Best Publication
The Africa Report (Jeune Afrique Group)
'A critical approach to the key issues with consistently excellent writing.'

Best Journalist
David Christianson (Business in Africa)
'First-hand research, objectivity and flair.'

The Role of Africans in Changing Perceptions

The awards event was attended by a diverse gathering of over 200 people including business leaders, journalists, members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of African businesses and organisations.  The Master of Ceremonies for the event, Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie, Executive Director of the UK based African Foundation for Development (AFFORD), asked those Africans present to consider their role in changing the negative perceptions of Africa.   “As Africans in the Diaspora, we have a particular role to play as ambassadors and champions of Africa,” he said.

Delivering the keynote speech in the lead up to the presentations of the awards, the Kenyan High Commissioner to London, HE Joseph Muchemi, spoke of the changes taking place across the continent and the efforts being made by African governments to instil higher standards of governance and accountability.  These changes, he said, had yet to be reflected in the media.  “Negative images take a long time to shift, if ever”, he said.  Yet, recognition that a number of countries had made considerable headway in their development was required, he added, observing that “African countries deserve fresh consideration by the media.”

Business Awards

Introducing the awards, Nick Blazquez, Managing Director of Diageo Africa, spoke of his company’s long affiliation with Africa. 

“We operate in more than 40 countries throughout Africa and contribute to economic and social development.  10% of Diageo’s business is in Africa and we directly employ 4,000 people, with many more indirectly employed through our operations”, he said. 

Speaking of the remarkable returns on investment in Africa, Blazquez pointed out that in 2005 African stock markets outperformed other global markets and brought returns of 66% in real dollar terms to investors, including Diageo, five of whose top 10 markets are in Africa. 

Blazquez acknowledged that public perception of governance in Africa was a challenge to business and highlighted the importance of corporate behaviour in Diageo, adding that “all our businesses in Africa operate to the highest standards of integrity and corporate governance.”

Presenting the awards, Blazquez said, “We were very encouraged by the response to this year's competition, which saw a record number of entries from Europe, North America, Australia and Africa. With these awards we are delighted to be recognising those who have gone the extra mile to promote awareness and understanding of business in Africa."

The awards covered six categories: Best Published Feature, Best Television Feature, Best Radio Feature, Best Website, Best Publication and Best Journalist. Winners received a bronze statue by the German sculptor Loni Kreuder and a cheque for £500.

“This event is about changing perceptions,” said Blazquez.  For companies like Diageo, reporting success is good for business and good for Africa. 

ImageRiding high on the success of Ghana’s international football team at the World Cup, the Ghana Professional Awards ceremony in London paid tribute to the success of Ghana’s sons and daughters in the Diaspora.


The Ghanaian Professional Achievers (GPA) Awards recognises individuals from a Ghanaian background who are making a positive contribution to the image and reputation of their mother country and aims to promote, encourage growth, excellence and innovation in Ghana’s global professional and business community. 

Founded in 2001 by Emelia Bartels, Director of Excell, a marketing and public relations consultancy, the GPA awards have become the forum for harnessing and developing the entrepreneurial skills and talents of Ghana’s extended community and act as a platform for identifying positive role models and mentors for aspiring young people in the Diaspora.

Image The professional award categories include Law, Architecture, Health, Banking and Finance and Science and Technology.  Other awards are offered in recognition of achievements in Media, Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation.

As a Ghanaian professional living and working in the United Kingdom, Bartels admits to a passion for promoting the best of Ghana.

"Promoting and harnessing our professional and entrepreneurial talent is not only essential in raising the profile of our community but also significant in highlighting previously untapped talent which is essential in any thriving economy," she says.

ImageThe 2006 Awards were attended by a host of participants from a diverse range of sectors and, not surprisingly, a large representation of Ghanaian professionals.  The keynote speaker for the event was Ghana’s Minister for Tourism and Diasporan Relations, the Hon. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey.

Previous winners of the GPA Awards include social entrepreneur Dame Betty Asafu-Adjaye, radio presenter Reggie Yates and Business Innovator Frances Williams of Interims for Development.

Photos: Smile

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