LONDON, April 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
The role of Africa's leading women-such as Diezani Alison-Madueke and Mamphele Ramphele-is steadily growing across the continent.
The fact that Africa is fast becoming one of the world's most important investment destinations is universally acknowledged. The US and emerging economic powerhouses such as China and India are increasing trade and investment in Africa whose economy grew five per cent in 2012 - according to the 2013 Economic Report on Africa. Traditionally an informal labour force, women in many parts of Africa have long been central to sustaining households and local economies.
Over the past two decades, however, African women have been increasingly active in business and politics - occupying senior and C-Level positions in high-profile institutions - and have ultimately made significant contributions to the successes of the continent.
Here is a list of some of Africa's most successful women:
Diezani Alison-Madueke (Nigeria)
Diezani Alison-Madueke was Nigeria's first female Federal Minister of Petroleum Resources. Alison-Madueke is responsible for Nigeria's oil and gas resources, which provide an estimated 80 per cent of the Federal Government's revenues. She previously served as Nigeria's Minister of Transportation and later as Minister of Mines and Steel Development. As Petroleum Minister, Alison-Madueke led the drafting of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). Often described as a pioneer of transformational change in Nigeria, Alison-Madueke was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Management Sciences by the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna for her public service, exemplary conduct and impeccable leadership. She graduated from Howard University, Washington DC, before joining Shell Petroleum Development Corporation where she became the first female Executive Director in Nigeria.
Mamphele Ramphele (South Africa)
Dr Mamphele Ramphele is celebrated as one of South Africa's most inspirational female figures. As a former Managing Director of the World Bank and previous anti-apartheid campaigner, she is renowned as an activist and businesswoman. As Managing Director and Vice-President of External Affairs at the World Bank, Ramphele was tasked with overseeing the strategic positioning and operations of the World Bank Institute - the first South African to hold the position. Ramphele also serves as Chairperson of Circle Capital Ventures, a South African-based Black Economic Empowerment company focused on growing businesses and investing in people.
Ramphele is involved in a variety of charitable work, most notably as a board member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which supports good governance and leadership. Earlier this year, Ramphele announced the formation of a new political party.
Evelyn Oputu (Nigeria)
Evelyn Oputu currently serves as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at the Bank of Industry (BOI),Nigeria's oldest development bank. Born in the Delta State and schooled in Nigeria as well as abroad, Oputu rose through the ranks in the financial sector. In 1991, Oputu became an Executive Director at First Bank of Nigeria Plc. Since her appointment as CEO of the BOI six years ago, Oputu has led the bank through some of the most successful years in its history - providing long term financing to Nigeria's growing industrial sectors.
Ory Okolloh (Kenya)
Kenyan-born activist, lawyer and blogger Ory Okolloh currently serves as Google's Policy Manager for Africa. The former Harvard University graduate studied law before founding Ushahidi, a crowd sourcing utility that enables citizen journalists and eyewitnesses all over the world to report incidences of violence via mobile, e-mail, SMS, and social media. The technology has since been syndicated internationally and adapted for other purposes.
Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi (Namibia)
Named in the Africa Report among the 50 most influential Africans, Zaamwani-Kamwi is a corporate heavyweight. She currently serves as Managing Director of Namdeb, a mining joint venture between the Government of Namibia and De Beers. The former barrister has worked as an official in the Ministry of Mines and Energy and served as President of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) from 1995-1998. Appointed as CEO of Namdeb in 1999, Zaamwani-Kamwi weathered the storm in the global diamond market but returned the company to profit in 2011.
Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita (South Africa)
As the Chief Executive Officer of ArcelorMittal SA, Nyembezi-Heita leads the South African branch of the global steel manufacturer, the largest producer of steel on the African continent with an annual production capacity of 7.8 million tons. She has played a vital role in the success of the company, which reported revenue of R32 billion in 2012. Nyembezi-Heita previously served as the Chief Officer of Mergers and Acquisitions for the Vodacom Group. Nyembezi-Heita is currently the Chairperson of the South African Iron and Steel Institute (SAISI).
Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin (Ethiopia)
Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin is a famed economist and a former Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX). Gabre-Madhin is widely regarded as the driving force behind the creation of the ECX following her research at the International Food Policy Research Institute into the impact of supply and demand inefficiencies on Ethiopian farmers while working. During her time as CEO, Gabre-Madhin was instrumental in helping build on ECX's mandate of fostering a modern and efficient trading system. Gabre-Madhin was born in Addis Ababa and has lived in New York, Rwanda, Togo, Malawi and Kenya. She also holds a PhD in Economics.
SOURCE African Business Review