News Update


Header Ads Widget

“The SERAS Africa Sustainability Awards 2022 Comes To A Grand Close” By Peter Bulawayo.

Ken Egbas, his wife & other guests.

December 4th was the most anticipated night in the annals of sustainability in Africa. Following the entry process that began in June, and had attracted entries from 97 organizations from 16 countries, and 510 projects entered for the 25 awards categories, the moment did arrive to present the very best of Africa to the rest of the world.

It was not just the glitz, glamour and seamless organization that caught the attention of everyone that attended and viewed the ceremony online and on television, it was also the stellar cast of business leaders and dignitaries of different nationalities that attended the ceremony all arrayed in brilliant ceremonial attires of different colours. From the red carpet to the ceremony venue inside the bowels of the Oriental Hotel at Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria, the excellent organization would have made a first-time attendee believe they had been the OSCARS and not a sustainability awards in Africa. 

Over the 16 years of history of the awards, one thing that has been sure being how the organizers have used the act of recognizing and honouring best practices in corporate social responsibility and sustainability in Africa to draw and inspire organisations across the continent to imbibe the ethos of responsible business practices. The Awards Co-founder Mary Ephraim captured the words right in her opening remarks when she said in her opening remarks that - 

“This ceremony is being held in a different light. CSR and sustainability have gone through their evolution. From philanthropy (the era of being back) to CSR (the era of giving back) to sustainability (the era of going back), and now to circularity (the era of bringing back). Through these various seasons, prosperity has never been a norm absent in Africa. Despite, all the problems we face as a continent, capitalists have remained largely happy. Entrepreneurs have continued to be productive. Our peculiar challenges have given rise to innovation as never seen before. For the first season in our human history, we face an existential threat to our ability to live on this planet. The conversations before now had been about how we could leave a befitting world for our children to inherit. But at the moment, it is how we as parents can live so that our offspring get the opportunity to survive.”

The 2022 theme was focused on circularity and reduction of waste- a key issue in the industrial era where Africa is faced with the dual issues of reducing and eliminating waste and also decoupling itself from the toxic relationship with the developed world that sees Africa as a dumping ground for it second-hand materials. It was truly a spectacle to behold sincere and innovative efforts from the participating organisations to not only provide succour to the communities around which they do business but also contribute to their various countries' race towards the actualization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

With the audience raptly captivated by her speech and candour on the beautiful and very excellently designed stage, Mary continued as she rammed home her message to good effect- “In 2021, it was recorded that Africa’s top ten C02 emitting countries – South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Angola, Sudan, and Kenya – in that order emitted 1,146,456,000 metric tons into the atmosphere. I leave it to your imagination what the number could be if we add those of the remaining 44 African nations. There are times we wait for the rest of the world before we act. But when our existence is as threatened as it is right now, we must all resolve to go into the battle to preserve lives, livelihood, enterprise, prosperity, and the future of our unborn children. I assure us all that it would not be at the opportunity cost of our collective prosperity.”

Entertainment was another area that the organizers score high. The evening featured various acts such as ageless Princess Cheena who bellowed a medley of her songs ending with a rehash of Mariam Makeba’s timeless masterpiece- Malaika, that got the crowd rocking. Others included Ade Lasode, the US-based soft-rock exponent adding her talent to the growing list of exceptional Nigerian music talents rocking the world music space. Others include reggae exponent- Righteous Man, Algaze and the choreographed dance crew – Da Crystals, whose performance raised the roof. 

The winners of the various categories  were as follows- Best Company in Circular Economy – Nestle; Best Company in Environmental Stewardship – IHS Towers; Best Company in Rural Population Integration – Nestle; Best Company in Poverty Reduction – International Breweries/ABinBev; Best Company in Promotion of Good Health/Well- Being – Coca-Cola; Partnership of the Year – IHS Towers; Best Company in Education Intervention – Airtel; Best Company in Reporting & Transparency – Dangote; Best Company in Work Place Practice – Zenith Bank; Best Company in Stakeholder Engagement – Flour Mills; Not-for-profit of the Year – Biodun & Ibikunle Foundation; Deborah Liepziger Prize for Innovation – 9 Mobile; Best Company in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – Bank of Industry; Best Company in Gender Equality/Women Empowerment – Nascon Allied (Dangote); Social Enterprise of the Year – International Breweries/ABinBev; Best Company in Food Security – Dangote Sugar; OPS-WASH Award for Best Company in Water & Sanitation – NBC; Best Company in Climate Action – IHS Towers; Best Company in Supply-Chain Management- Flour Mills; Best in Sustainability Reporting (Media: Electronic/Print/Online) – News Central; Best Company in Net Zero Transition – NBC; Best Company in Technology for Development- Zenith Bank; Best Company in infrastructure Development – ARIA/BUA Group; Best Company in Social Impact/Human Capital Advancement – ARIA/Bua Group; Impact Investor of the Year – ARIA/BUA Group; International Collaboration for Sustainable Development – OPS-WASH

One could feel the tension as the moment for the last set of awards arrived. Cima Sholotan emerged as Africa Sustainability Professional of the Year 2022 to a thunderous ovation from the audience. The reason for this was palpable. Cima had made final nominations in the last two editions. In  2021, she lost narrowly to Shameela Soobramoney of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Her organisation's performance in 2022 made it easy for her to see out the challenges from Diana Ondoga (Stanbic Uganda), Babatunde Dawodu (Nigerian Breweries) and Caroline Oghuma of Multichoice (South Africa). Abdul Samad Rabiu emerged as the CEO of the year.

Then came the biggest moment of the evening, the award for the Most Responsible Organization in Africa coming with full bragging rights to last the next 12 months till the 17th edition of the prestigious awards. With Dangote and IHS tied at four SERAS Statuettes won apiece, picking an overall winner was going to go down to the wire. In the end, the judges resorted to the two organizations’ scores in categories they did not win to tally the final score. Dangote had placed runner-up in two categories and second runner-up in one category. IHS placed as runner-up in two categories. Final Scores stood at Dangote-105 points, and IHS-100 points. While BUA group who were the surprise package in 2022 as this was their first time at the awards took third place, displacing last year's overall winners- Zenith Bank to fourth place.

As the ceremony compere Ebele Ememchukwu, and local organizing chairperson, Toyosi Thomas gave the closing charge, the celebrants and guests made their way to the red carpet which came alive with interviews, clicking cameras, and clinking of wine glasses.

As people, the venue began to thin out and guests head for home, it was very to conclude that the organizers of The SERAS had put the progress being made across Africa in the actualization of the SDGs and the inspiring contributions the private and public sectors are making in this regard, on an international podium that the rest of the world cannot help but admire. For once, at least, Africa has gotten this one right.


Post a Comment