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10 - 11 May 2022
Nairobi, Kenya

Leader of the Year Award

Voting is now open for the East Africa Com Leader of the Year Award 2021.

The Inspiring Leader is the top accolade at the East Africa Com Awards. Formerly known as the CxO of the Year Award, this category includes all leaders (including management, as well as CxO level). The award celebrates individuals demonstrating exceptional leadership, with an outstanding ability to advance technologies, deployments and ecosystems.

BENJAMIN FERNANDES, Founder and CEO, NALA

Benjamin Fernandes is a Tanzanian technology entrepreneur and the founder of NALA, a cross-border money transfer service to reduce the costs of sending money from the diaspora to East Africa, starting with the UK. Previously, he worked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, before moving back home to start NALA - where they initially built a personal finance app that scaled to over 250,000 customers in Tanzania and Uganda, enabling them to manage their funds and make digital payments with no need for an internet connection. 

While Africa still remains the most expensive continent to send money to in the world, Fernandes and his team are keen to reduce those costs and open opportunities for African globally, exporting East African tech to the UK and beyond. 

Fernandes holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and an Exec Ed. from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

EDWARD LAWRENCE, CO-FOUNDER, WORKONLINE COMMUNICATIONS

Edward is a successful entrepreneur, skilled negotiator, and Internet aficionado. He is well recognised for his commitment to the development of the African Internet.

Often called on for business and leadership advice, Edward is a member of the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa (IoDSA), chairs the board of an Internet NGO, and serves on two boards of large pan-African technology companies. Since founding Workonline Communications in 2006, Edward has successfully led the company to becoming the leader in the provision of wholesale connectivity and IP transit services in sub-Saharan Africa.

He introduced the Workonline Tour in 2017, hosting a group of senior network engineers on their first visit to a Network Operator Group meeting in the US, and coordinating visits to influential CDNs to encourage further collaboration and learning between Africa and the US. He has consistently championed skills development in southern Africa, supporting training for critical initiatives in the fields of IPv6, BGP security, RPKI and others. He also supports many causes to this end in his personal capacity.

In the past year, his energy and passion for building the Internet ecosystem to support the increasing demands of the effects of the pandemic have been enormous.

ELIZABETH MALOBA, CO-FOUNDER, NAHARI

In our current context, the gendered economic, health and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic across all aspects of society are threatening to reverse the gains made to advance gender equality over the years. Actions such as setting an inclusive culture through ongoing training, creating transparency in wage bands, removing bias from job descriptions and the recruiting process, hiring a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) lead have slow results – the Cartier women’s initiative estimates that doing these things at the current pace will mean that we do not see changes in our children’s lifetimes!

That is why I believe we need to shift focus from individuals to systems. Our solutions to the challenge of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) need to be designed to ensure they take into consideration the sophistication and nuances of the issue, to be based on a systems approach, to focus on the leverage points that drive transformation, and to be iterative.

I work in cross-sectoral, trans-professional, multistakeholder settings to foster collaborative initiatives that support shifts in processes, strategies, practices and systems. I am facilitating a process for the GIZ in its implementation of the digital flagship project “Fair Forward – Artificial Intelligence for All” and collaborating with Prof. Amb. Colette Mazucelli of NYU Stein and James Felton Keith, to explore “the ethics of personal data collection in international relations – inclusion in the time of covid 19”. I also work to enable early-stage entrepreneurs – with a focus on women and young people - to leverage emerging digital technologies in their business strategy, encouraging them to explore the possibilities the 4IR provides them to harness the power of real-time and predictive analytics for smarter decision making, anticipatory approaches to managing risk, and to explore new ways to measure social impact.  

Hon. Zipporah Kittony

Hon. Zipporah Kittony has made her mark in Kenya's history for women. She has contributed hugely to bringing women into positions of leadership. She initiated Maendeleo ya wanawake in Kenya and has been in leadership in the country for more than fifty years.

"When I see women now, in the world stage and tables of leadership, I feel very elated knowing I was part and parcel of this change and that my contributions have been felt."

Her contributions to Kenyan women in leadership are now felt throughout the country. She has championed culture and education of women, as well as championing the eradication of FGM to the effect of the government now having legislation against it. She has inspired many women into leadership and has seen many go into leadership through her initiatives.

"I strongly feel that my work and contribution to women is felt through every Kenyan household knowing that most women utter my name when experiencing new freedoms."

John Kamara, co-Founder of AfyaRekod

AfyaRekod, is a digital health platform that solves the problem of structured capture, storage, real-time access and mobility of health data. The platform also focuses on giving the sovereign right of ownership of the data back to the patients. At AfyaRekod we believe that treatment happens in the hospital and healthcare happens outside the hospital, our platform bridges the gap between the two by ensuring that health institutions manage both treatment and healthcare to support patients wherever they are.

The capacity of African countries to address healthcare challenges remains hindered by the lack of health data and coverage, coupled with weak statistical capacity. With the whole world still struggling with the Corona Virus pandemic, it’s evident that a centralized health management system that rely solely on people walking into a health facility to acquire the patient data are not sufficient. The lack of data thus represents a major obstacle to obtaining quality health data in Africa, consequently making the production of evidence-based policy and responses to health challenges more difficult. There is both a lack of primary community health data on diseases and most importantly, patient data which is critical to save lives.

Using mobile phones to deliver health services in Kenya during the pandemic, helped in overcoming the challenges of limited infrastructure as well as ensure compliance with the pandemic containment measures. Using the AfyaRekod platform patients are able to store their health records, the medication they take as well as keep journals of their health statuses and that of their kids and families. The platform is AI driven and uses various AI modules to help detect abnormalities, detect early outbreaks and monitor mobility and evolution of diseases via timely data analytics.

Our Covid-19 tool, was deployed by Mombasa County, and has successfully managed to streamline all aspects of the pandemic management; from capturing case investigation forms, to contact tracing, issuance of attestation certificates and generating reports. The tool also helped the Catholic sisters (from the Association of Sisterhood in Kenya) at the grassroots level, continue with the digitization of rural healthcare while also supporting health workers during the pandemic.