In 2010, the National Basketball Association (NBA) opened its African headquarters in South Africa. Yesterday, NBA announced the formation of NBA Africa, a new entity that will manage the league’s business in Africa alongside the Basketball Africa League (BAL).
This is the first season for BAL featuring 12 of the top club teams from 12 African countries being held in Kigali, Rwanda.
Finals will be held Sunday, May 30 at 4:00 p.m. CAT / 10 a.m. ET.
To realize NBA Africa, NBA partnered with keys investors including the consortium headed by Babatunde “Tunde” Folawiyo, Chairman and CEO of Yinka Folawiyo Group; and Helios Fairfax Partners Corporation (HFP), headed by Tope Lawani, Co-CEO of HFP and Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Helios Investment Partners.
This brilliant move will potentially upscale NBA in Africa due the wide range of experience accumulated by these investors as a result of their relationships with African businesses, governments and NGOs.
Tunde and Tope will be joining the NBA Africa as part of the Board of Directors including NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum and Victor Williams as the CEO.
Other investors include:
NBA Legends Junior Bridgeman, Luol Deng (South Sudan), Grant Hill, Joakim Noah, and NBA Global Ambassador, Dikembe Mutombo.
The NBA Africa executives have the following to say:
Babatunde “Tunde” Folawiyo:
“Sport has always been a unifier in Africa, and our people have always excelled in most fields, often far from home and against all odds. This is a unique opportunity for Africa to leverage the new economy and develop the business and innovation infrastructure of sports. I am genuinely excited to be in a group that understands this imperative alongside the powerhouse that is the NBA. Bringing world-class know-how together with local nous has been a strong formula for successful global businesses. We foresee this for our partnership. This time, success will be defined not just by return on investment but by sustainable and long-term impact on the lives of our people. That is our aim.”
“Throughout Helios’ history, we have bridged international capital and expertise to African talent and enterprise, and this is a unique opportunity for us to do so in the world of sport by partnering with the NBA, a truly best-in-class operator. As a committed and experienced partner for businesses operating across Africa, we look forward to contributing our expertise, connectivity and market knowledge to support NBA Africa’s growth throughout the continent.”
“Today’s announcement is the result of many years of investment and on-the-ground work to grow the game of basketball in Africa and a recognition of the enormous opportunities ahead for the NBA on the continent. We believe that basketball can become a top sport across Africa over the next decade, and I look forward to working closely with our investors to make that goal a reality.”
“The successful formation and funding of NBA Africa as a standalone entity is indicative of the rich history of the NBA in Africa, the power of the NBA’s vision for the growth of the game on the continent, and the strong commitment by our outstanding new partners to support that vision. I’d like to thank the entire NBA Africa team, led for the last decade by Amadou Gallo Fall and John Manyo-Plange, for the work they have done to lay the foundation for the game on the continent which has made this milestone possible.”
“This is a historic day for basketball in Africa, and I’m honored to join this special group of leaders who are committed to the continent and to using the game to improve people’s lives. I’m fortunate to have been among the first players from Africa to make an impact in the NBA, and because of the commitment of these individuals, countless more players will have the opportunity to follow in my footsteps in the years ahead.”
By Elijah Christopher
Elijah Christopher is a journalist at A New Touch Of Africa, is also a creative writer, a poet, and an IT enthusiast. He contributed to the collaborative poem written in celebration of Edwin Morgan Centenary, the first Glasgow poet laureate and Scottish national poet from the University of Glasgow. He loves meeting people and learning about new places, cultures, events, and lifestyles.