Academy Award-winning actor and social activist Forest Whitaker has joined global economist and author Dr. Dambisa Moyo to become the latest among a group of African business leaders and ex-basketball players to invest in NBA Africa.
According to African Business, Dr. 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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
“We are delighted to welcome Dambisa and Forest 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.