Barack Obama joins NBA Africa as strategic partner.
Obama to support league’s social responsibility efforts in Africa, including gender equality and economic inclusion
NBA Africa was formed in May to grow league’s business across the continent and accelerate growth
Former US president Barack Obama has been named as a strategic partner of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Africa business.
In his new role at NBA Africa, Obama will help advance the league’s social responsibility efforts across the continent, including programmes and partnerships that support greater gender equality and economic inclusion.
The 59-year-old will also have a minority equity stake in the new venture, which the NBA says, over time, he intends to use to fund Obama Foundation youth and leadership programmes across Africa.
The addition of Obama comes after the NBA announced the formation of NBA Africa in May, which now conducts the league’s business on the continent.
Among the investors in NBA Africa are investment holding company Helios Fairfax Partners and Babatunde Folawiyo, the chairman and chief executive of Nigeria-based industrial group Yinka Folawiyo Group. They have been joined by former NBA players Junior Bridgeman, Luol Deng, Grant Hill, Dikembe Mutombo and Joakim Noah.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in May that the enterprise value of the new venture was already “nearly US$1 billion”.
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“The NBA has always been a great ambassador for the United States – using the game to create deeper connections around the world, and in Africa, basketball has the power to promote opportunity, wellness, equality, and empowerment across the continent,” said Obama.
“By investing in communities, promoting gender equality, and cultivating the love of the game of basketball, I believe that NBA Africa can make a difference for so many of Africa’s young people.
“I’ve been impressed by the league’s commitment to Africa, including the leadership shown by so many African players who want to give back to their own countries and communities. That’s why I’m proud to join the team at NBA Africa and look forward to a partnership that benefits the youth of so many countries.”
Silver added: “We are honoured that President Obama has become a strategic partner in NBA Africa and will support our wide-ranging efforts to grow the game of basketball on the continent.
“In addition to his well-documented love for basketball, President Obama has a firm belief in Africa’s potential and the enormous growth opportunities that exist through sports. NBA Africa will benefit tremendously from his engagement.”
Obama’s arrival follows the conclusion of the inaugural season of the Basketball Africa League (BAL), a joint venture between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation (Fiba). Egyptian team Zamalek were crowned the BAL’s first ever champions.