Previous Awards Gala Events

Awards Gala guests

Held annually during the week of the United Nations General Assembly, AAI’s Annual Awards Gala is one of the most anticipated Africa-focused events in New York City. The Awards Gala brings together distinguished guests including African Heads of State and diplomats, international and senior U.S. government officials, business and civil society leaders, educators, journalists, philanthropists and other prominent figures who are working towards advancing economic and development progress in Africa.

Since its first Annual Awards Dinner in 1984, AAI has honored individuals who are working to fulfill AAI’s mission of increasing Africa’s human capacity for development  and promoting engagement between the African continent and America.


National Achievement Award

In 1999, the AAI National Achievement Award was established to recognize the citizens of an African nation for their achievements and demonstrated commitment to: representative, effective and just governance; investing in the well being of people through education health, peace-building and environmental conservation; and promoting sustainable economic freedom through policies that foster enterprise and entrepreneurship.

2012:   The People of Liberia, accepted by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

2011:   The People of Sierra Leone, accepted by President Ernest Bai Koroma

2009:   The People of Ghana, accepted by President John Evans Atta Mills

2008:   The People of Mozambique, accepted by President Armando Emílio Guebuza

2007:   The People of Tanzania, accepted by President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete

2006:   The People of South Africa, accepted by President Thabo Mbeki

2005:   The People of Rwanda, accepted by President Paul Kagame

2004:   The People of Namibia, accepted by President Sam Nujoma

               The People of Uganda, accepted by President Yoweri Museveni

2003:   The People of Kenya, accepted by President Mwai Kibaki

2001:   The People of Ghana, accepted by President John Agyekum Kufuor

               The People of Senegal, accepted by President Abdoulaye Wade

1999:   The People of Nigeria, accepted by President Olusegun Obasanjo

              The People of South Africa, accepted by President Thabo Mbeki


Presidential Leadership Award

The Presidential Leadership Award recognized African Heads of State for their achievements in demonstrating exemplary leadership in their commitment to Africa’s democratization and political and socio-economic development.

2015:  His Excellency Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia

2014:  His Excellency Alassane Ouattara, President of Côte d’Ivoire

2012:  Her Excellency Joyce Banda, President of Malawi

2002:  His Excellency Festus Mogae, President of Botswana

2000:  His Excellency Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, President of South Africa

1997:  President William Clinton, President of The United States of America

1992:   The Hon. Nelson R. Mandela, Nobel Laureate and President of South Africa

              His Excellency Frederick J. T. Chiluba, President of Zambia

1991:    His Excellency Nicéphore D. Soglo, President of Benin

1984:   His Excellency President Kenneth D. Kaunda, President of Zambia


Distinguished Alumni Award

AAI presents Distinguished Alumni Awards to an alumna and/or alumnus of one of AAI’s education and training programs, who has made a significant contribution to their country or field of work.

(Positions listed are those held at the time of the award)

2016:   Sunil Benimadhu, Chief Executive, Stock Exchange of Mauritius

2015:   H.E. Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia

2014:   Thandika Mkandawire, Chair of African Development at the London School of Economics

2013:   Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and CEO of Sustainable Energy for All Initiative

2012:   Nik Amarteifio, CEO and Chairman of Equatorial Cross Acquisitions Ltd.

Dr. Thelma Awori, Founding Chair and Co-President, Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund

2011:   Hon. Zainab Hawa Bangura, Minister of Health and Sanitation, Republic of Sierra Leone

2010:   Seipati Tlaka, 2010 FIFA World Cup Provincial Coordinator, Senior General Manager, Office of the Premier, Limpopo Province

               Dr. Ousseina Alidou, Director, Center for African Studies, Rutgers

2009:   Dinah Brandful, Asst. Commissioner & Head of Laboratory, Customs, Excise Preventive Service

2008:   Jorgina Manhengane, Operations Manager, PETROMOC SA

2007:   Gidion Kaino Mandesi, Executive Director, Disabled Organization for Legal Affairs and Social Economic Development

2006:   Professor Phumla Mtala, Director of Programmes, College of Economic & Management Sciences, University of South Africa

2005:   Jonathan Lifa, Regional Manager, Public Affairs, Chevron Corporation

               Dr. Betty Bigombe, World Bank Consultant

2004:   Hon. Nahas Angula, Minister of Higher Education, Training and Employment Creation

1992:   Wangari M. Maathai, Nobel Laureate and founder of the Greenbelt Movement


Corporate Responsibility Award

AAI presents the Corporate Responsibility Award to recognize corporations that are dedicated to advancing socio-economic development, workforce development and job creation in Africa.

2015:   IBM, accepted by Jen Crozier, Vice President of Global Citizenship Initiatives

2014:  General Electric, accepted by Jay Ireland, President and CEO of General Electric Africa

2013:  Chevron, accepted by Ali Moshiri, President of Chevron’s Africa And Latin America Exploration And Production Company

2010:  FIFA World Cup South Africa Leadership Team, accepted by Dr. Irvin Khoza, Chairman of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Organizing Committee

2002:  The Limited brands and Mast Industries, accepted by Jerry Stritzke, President & CEO of Mast Industries


Business Leadership Award

AAI presents the Business Leadership Award to visionaries who demonstrate excellence in leadership on the African continent through their tremendous contributions in shaping the business environment and African economy for economic growth and sustainable development.

2016: Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group

2015:  Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman, Econet Wireless

2014:  Vivienne Yeda, Director-General of the East African Development Bank

2013:  Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited and Founder, Tony O. Elumelu Foundation


Other Distinguished Awards

2016:   Regional Integration Award
               The People of the Republic of Rwanda

2016:   Lifetime Achievement Award
               Ali Moshiri, President, Chevron Africa and Latin America, Exploration and Production Company

2016:   Special Tribute and AAI U.S. Business Leader Award
               Stephen Hayes, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Corporate Council on Africa

2013:   AAI Institutional Legacy Award
              African Union, accepted by Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chair, African Union Commission

2001:   AAI Award of Special Recognition for Promoting U.S. – Africa Trade Relations
              Rosa M. Whitaker, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa

2000: AAI Award for Excellence in Literature
             Chinua Achebe, Nigerian Poet and Author