Tycoon Manu Chandaria was Tuesday feted with the Forbes Special Lifetime Achievement Award in an honour that saw Nigeria’s Agriculture minister Akinwumi Adesina declared Africa’s Person of the Year.
The US publication recognised the Kenyan businessman for his achievements as an industrialist who has grown the family business, Comcraft, to at least 18 countries in Africa.
Mr Chandaria, 84, is a leading philanthropist and business leader, with his $2.5 billion Comcraft Group producing steel, plastics,and aluminium products in 45 countries. His Kenyan stable includes Mabati Rolling Mills and Kaluworks Ltd.
He is among the few Kenyan billionaires who have built wealth without relying on political links. He is also Kenya’s biggest philanthropist with his Chandaria Foundation that gives away millions of dollars to causes in education, health and the arts.
Receiving his award, Mr Chandaria said his family was the backbone of his success and called on African leaders to establish a single market that allows for increased trade within the continent.
“I appeal to African leaders to make a borderless Africa. Make it a single market; let’s propagate by Africa for Africa. This will open a huge market and drive our economy,” said Mr Chandaria.
The unveiling of Mr Adesina as this year’s Forbes Africa Person of the Year was the highlight of the Monday evening event held at Nairobi’s Villa Rosa Kempinski hotel.
The minister’s achievements in developing the agricultural sector in Nigeria and the continent saw him beat Zimbabwe’s Strive Masiyiwa, who emerged second.
Third was Africa’s billionaire Aliko Dangote, followed by South Africa’s Patrice Motsepe and the founder of Zenith Bank Jim Ovia.
Mr Adesina was recognised for his work in empowering farmers in Nigeria, generating wealth in the sector and using technology to drive the growth of agriculture in his country.
The award recognises the individual who has made a significant impact in business through economic growth, creation of employment, empowering people and spearheading innovation in the continent.
Equity’s chief executive James Mwangi was last year’s recipient of the award, which was held in Nigeria.