JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — NBA Africa today announced that Academy Award-winning actor and social activist Forest Whitaker and global economist and New York Times best-selling author Dr. Dambisa Moyo have joined NBA Africa as strategic investors.
Whitaker, an American actor, producer, director, humanitarian and activist, has been recognized with a Golden Globe Award, a British Academy Film Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and the 2006 Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of former Uganda president Idi Amin in the British historical drama The Last King of Scotland. In 2011, he was inducted as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Goodwill Ambassador and went on to be promoted to Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, as well as an Advocate for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Whitaker is the CEO of the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI), a non-profit organization that aims to promote the values of peace, reconciliation and social development within communities that have been impacted by conflict and violence. Through WPDI, Whitaker has developed the Youth Peacemaker Network, a global peacebuilding network with hubs in South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, Mexico, and the U.S., and that will soon expand to the Democratic Republic of Congo and France. WPDI is active in the area of sports through its Peace Through Sports program, which combines sports practice and tournaments with workshops and events aimed at disseminating values of tolerance, nonviolence, and respect for human rights.
Moyo, who was born in Zambia, is a global economist, author and international public speaker. She previously served as a consultant for the World Bank, as a research economist and strategist at Goldman Sachs, and has written four New York Times best-selling books about macroeconomics, global affairs and corporate governance. Moyo holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and an MBA from American University, an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a doctorate in Economics from the University of Oxford.
“I’m thrilled to become a strategic investor in NBA Africa as it plans to grow basketball’s presence across the continent,” said Whitaker. “The game of basketball is incredibly inspirational, and my decade working in Africa has shown me how sports can be a transformative method of helping to foster peace, as well as an economic engine for socioeconomic development in areas of conflict. I deeply believe in the league’s commitment to youth empowerment and am so excited to work alongside the NBA Africa family.”
“I have loved sport all my life and I am hugely grateful for the opportunity to support basketball in Africa at an elite level,” said Moyo. “Basketball has a great capacity to be a positive force for communities across this amazing continent.”
“We are delighted to welcome Forest and Dambisa to the NBA Africa family,” said NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams. “They are both accomplished humanitarians whose expertise, resources and guidance will add tremendous value to our existing investor group. We thank them for their commitment and belief in our efforts to use basketball as an economic growth engine and as a vehicle to positively impact the lives of youth across the continent.”
NBA Africa conducts the NBA’s business in Africa, including the Basketball Africa League (BAL), which features the top 12 club teams from 12 African countries and will tip off its second season in March 2022. NBA Africa is focused on expanding the league’s presence in priority African markets, deepening the league’s engagement with players and fans across the continent, and continuing to grow Africa’s basketball ecosystem through programs like the Jr. NBA, Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Africa and NBA Academy Africa. In July, former President Barack Obama joined NBA Africa as a strategic partner.
Strategic investors in NBA Africa also include a consortium led by Babatunde “Tunde” Folawiyo, Chairman and CEO of Yinka Folawiyo Group, and Helios Fairfax Partners Corporation (HFP), led by Co-CEO Tope Lawani. Additional investors in NBA Africa include former NBA players Junior Bridgeman, Luol Deng (South Sudan), Grant Hill, Ian Mahinmi (France; ties to Benin), Dikembe Mutombo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Joakim Noah (ties to Cameroon).
The NBA has a decades-long history in Africa and opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg in 2010. Since then, the league’s efforts on the continent have focused on increasing access to basketball and the NBA through social responsibility, grassroots and elite development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, NBA Africa Games, the launch of the BAL, and more.
On May 30, Zamalek (Egypt) defeated US Monastir (Tunisia) 76-63 to win the inaugural BAL Championship, which was broadcast to fans in 215 countries and territories in 15 languages. Fans can follow @NBA_Africa and @theBAL on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.