FORBES, the global media company, focusing on business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, and lifestyle has earned the reputation of releasing lists of excellent people across those fields.
Each year Forbes ranks the world based on a variety of categories ranging from the wealthiest people on the planet to the best schools and best achievers in different fields
Its reputation is even more enduring considering that for decades since it started ranking the world, the integrity of the people who make the list, under any category, is faultless. No one buys his or her way into the Forbes List.
This fact resonated again at the weekend when under its Africa Leading Icons category, Forbes declared that the Chairman of Zinox technologies and a serial tech investor, Leo Stan Ekeh, is the best in Africa.
And so, Ekeh was decorated with Best of Africa Leading Tech Icon Award. He received the prestigious award on Friday, August 6, 2021.
It was surely an award for Nigeria. It calls for celebration in the Nigeria Information and Communications Technology, ICT sector. But it truly didn’t come as a surprise. Ekeh’s zest in tech entrepreneurship, most probably equals the long list of awards his gallantry in the field attracts.
It is just that this Forbes’ well-deserved accolade marks the latest in a long list of credible local and international awards and recognitions received by Ekeh for his over three decades of leadership and pioneering entrepreneurship in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) space in Africa. It puts a colourful cap on his many enduring philanthropic and humanitarian legacies.
In considering him for the award, Forbes said the Zinox boss was singled out for founding the most integrated ICT group in Africa with influence in four continents. He was also honoured for pioneering e-Commerce, Desktop Publishing and Computer Graphics, Wireless Cloud and WiMAX, the first locally assembled and internationally certified computer brand – Zinox; digital dispensing pumps for fuel and gas stations as well as the biometric revolution for elections, among others in Africa.
Although he was specifically mentioned as the best in his category, other notable Nigerian and African personalities were spotted by Forbes as having excelled in different fields.
They included renowned cleric and Metropolitan Senior Pastor of House on the Rock, Pastor Paul Adefarasin; Founder and Executive Chairman of Online Integrated Solutions Ltd (OIS), Mahmood Ahmadu; Ghanaian industrialist and philanthropist, Nana Kwame Bediako; South African businesswoman and philanthropist, Wendy Ackerman; Lesotho’s leading business magnate, Sam Matekane; Zimbabwean businessman, Ken Sharpe; Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure, Clever Gatete; Zambian-based business magnate, Dr. Rajan Mahtani and Group Chairman, FIN, Mrs. Olayinka Fayomi.
Ekeh, who confessed to have received over 6o international and local awards was equally singled out and honour by President Olusegun Obasanjo on the occasion of Nigeria’s Independence Anniversary on October 1st, 2001 with an ICON OF HOPE award as a pride to modern Nigeria and as a model for Nigerian youths.
Again, President Obasanjo honoured him with another national award – the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) in 2003.
A Fellow of the Nigeria Computer Society, the umbrella body of all computer associations in Nigeria, he was also awarded the pioneer ICT Personality of the Year by this professional body.
In November 2019, Ekeh was honoured by President Muhammadu Buhari with the National Productivity Order of Merit award for his sustained leadership in the area of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). With over four Doctorate Degrees (Honorary) and fifteen fellowships from recognized institutions and as a former global advisor to Microsoft, the leadershipof Forbes praised his outstanding entrepreneurship.
In his acceptance speech, Ekeh expressed gratitude to Forbes and the Foreign Investment Network (FIN) for the recognition. Also, he reaffirmed his often-stated interest in technology as a game-changer, while also expressing his passion for humanity which he revealed is driven by access to education and quality health.
Further, he appreciated Nigerians and her leadership and Africans by extension for trusting him and his colleagues’ ingenuity across his technology group.
Ekeh said: “The 21st Century is one in which the impact of technology in the affairs of nations and in the lives of individuals cannot be wished away. Indeed, the world is currently a technology-mediated global village, with technology remaining, as I have often stated in some of my public talks, arguably the only profession in the world today that can transform an indigent child or youth into the richest person in the world.
“With the Zinox Group, which includes over eight successful entities across verticals in the technology space, we have been able to bring to reality the power of technology in transforming lives, ushering many into the digital ecosystem and solving complex problems.
“I must also not fail to mention the Konga Group, an e-Commerce platform which was acquired by Zinox in 2018 and which today, has grown into the leading player on the African continent. Through these companies, we have provided meaningful direct employment opportunities for over 5000 people and over 250,000 indirect employment opportunities for individuals, merchants and other beneficiaries.
“If I had not made the decision to return to my first love – technology – after my educational sojourn abroad, I doubt I would have been able to contribute my little quota in reshaping the lives of thousands of African youths as we have done today,” he enthused.
The Forbes Best of Africa Awards 2021 aims to recognize and reward change-makers, individuals and organizations that have made remarkable difference on the African continent, improving the lives of millions across the region in the areas of entrepreneurship, technology, leadership, vision and influence despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the dignitaries that graced the occasion was the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) represented by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo and the King of Lesotho Kingdom, His Majesty Letsie III David Mohato Seeiso, among others.