AAI celebrated South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) initiatives at AAI’s 22nd Annual Awards Gala held at the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park in New York City. H.E. Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, attended as the Guest of Honor, and spoke before the audience of some 500 people about his government’s initiative to overcome the racial divide between rich and poor by transferring portions of ownership and management of the country’s businesses into the hands of the historically disadvantaged black population.
AAI presented its Economic Bridge-Builder Award to New York State Comptroller, Alan G. Hevesi, for his role in promoting US–Africa Economic Engagement, which was accepted by Deputy Comptroller, Diana Ritter. Professor Phumla Mtala, of the University of South Africa (UNISA) received the AAI Distinguished Alumna Award for spearheading institutional development.
H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and H.E. Fradique de Menezes, President of São Tomé and Principe, both were in attendance to join in the recognition of South Africa’s BEE initiave. Other notable personalities from entertainment and politics, including NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo, Ambassador Andrew Young and the cast of Walt Disney Theatrical’s the Lion King, joined AAI in celebrating South Africa’s black economic empowerment programs.
As stated by AAI President & CEO, Mora Mclean, “BEE resonates with the AAI’s focus on African capacity-building through education. AAI believes that South Africa’s, and indeed Africa’s, most precious resource is people.”