An interesting feature of this year’s African Diaspora Investment Symposium (ADIS23) was the celebration of ingenuity and innovation of African entrepreneurs with the conferment of the prestigious Barka Award on Dr. Amadou Alpha Sall, CEO, Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal and Director, WHO Collaborating Center for Arboviruses and Viral Hemorrhagic Fever. Also honoured were 10 Diaspora deserving leaders who received the Luminaire Awards.
The Barka Award honours a notable individual for their distinguished contributions to Africa and the African diaspora community. ‘Barka’ is an expression of gratitude used in multiple languages and cultures in Africa, including Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The African Diaspora Network (ADN) presented the sixth Barka Award to Sall for playing a vital role in the largest Ebola epidemic in history in 2014-2015 in West Africa and for being the first African Director of Institut Pasteur in Dakar, one of the world’s top scientific and public health leaders on emerging diseases and epidemics. The Institut co-manufactured a $1-handheld COVID-19 diagnostic test kit that can give results in a matter of minutes with the leadership and guidance of Sall.
Fortune Magazine listed him among the world’s 25 greatest leaders for 2020 for his role in the response to COVID-19 in Africa.
“I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of the Barka Award than my dear colleague and friend, Amadou Sall. As one of the world’s top scientific and public health leaders on emerging diseases and epidemics, Amadou has made cutting-edge contributions in developing and disseminating diagnostic and control tools for viral diseases like Ebola, Chikungunya, Dengue and COVID-19.
The African Diaspora Network thanks Amadou for all he has done and continues to do to build the Africa we want,” Kedest Tesfagiorgis, Deputy Director of Global Partnerships and Grand Challenges, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said.
Ndeye Makalou, Senior Director – Product Strategy Leader, Global Supply Chain, Roche-Genentech and Board Member, African Diaspora Network, said: “Dr Amadou Sall has a deep and abiding love for our continent and its people, and a singular determination to secure our health. In the face of adversity and skepticism, he confidently corralled African excellence and energy to tackle the most difficult infectious diseases challenges with which we are faced, adopting a holistic approach that encompasses everything from education to product innovation and everyone from administrative to scientific staff.”
During his keynote address at #ADIS23, Sall encouraged diasporans to invest in healthcare innovations in Africa, stressing that Africa, “in terms of healthcare, is full of opportunities if you want to solve a healthcare access-related problem.”
Speaking on the significance of the award, Sall said: “It is exciting to me receiving this award because Silicon Valley in the world is the centre of innovation. Despite the challenges many African startups face, celebrating our success stories is a huge development.”
Acknowledging that the award will spur him to do more, he added: “Clearly, one of the greatest opportunities we have in young people is their creativity. That is why we give seed money to help them carry out visibility studies and prototyping.”
In addition, 10 distinguished Africans and Diasporans who continue to make a high-level impacts on a global scale and demonstrate their commitment to advancing the African continent received the coveted Luminaire Awards. The Luminaire Awards were presented on Friday to Yohannes Assefa, Board of Directors, Ethiopia Diaspora Trust Fund; Twum Djin, Head of Engineering, Payments Conversion at Stripe; Dr. Josephine Fubara, Chief Science Officer, Sanofi Consumer Healthcare; Dr Josh Ghaim, Founder/Managing Partner, Ignite Venture Studio and Board Chairman, African
Diaspora Network; and Dr. Ndeye Makalou, Head of Health Equity- Genentech Commercial, Medical and Government Affairs at Roche Genentech.
Others are Hugh Molotsi, Investor, Founder and CEO, Ujama; Chike Nwoffiah, Creative Ambassador, City of San José & Founding Director, Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF); Abbey Omokhodion, CFO; Innocent Shumba, US-West EY Private Leader and Assurance Partner, Ernst & Young; and Kedest Tesfagiorgis, Deputy Director of Global Partnerships & Grand Challenges, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Josephine’s dedication to improving healthcare is truly inspiring. She has spearheaded numerous initiatives aimed at expanding access to medicines and improving health outcomes for underserved communities,” says Michael Thompson, Pain Science Category Head; LATAM Innovation Head; Consumer Healthcare at Sanofi. “Her vision and passion have motivated our team to work tirelessly to achieve our shared goal of making a difference in people’s lives. She is a natural leader who leads by example. She is always available to offer guidance and support, and she
creates an environment of inclusiveness and collaboration. Her ability to bring people together and inspire them to work towards a common goal is truly remarkable.”
“Yohannes has been one of the strongest champions of the diaspora by highlighting their contribution to the development of Africa and raising awareness on the opportunities for investments in Ethiopia and beyond. He is most deserving to be recognized as one of the 2023 African Diaspora Luminaire Awardees. Congratulations to Yohannes on this achievement!” says Mimi Alemayehou, Senior Vice President, Strategic Growth, at Mastercard Inc.
The Barka and Luminaires awardees were honoured during a private awards dinner held on Thursday, March 23, at Santa Clara University. The dinner included lauding awardees and robust discussions on diaspora engagement.