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AviaDev Ato Girma Wake Lifetime Achievement Winners

Presented to distinguished leaders in aviation for their contribution to route development in Africa

2023 WINNER - Rodger Foster, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Airlink

Mr Foster has been instrumental in the growth of Airlink since its inception in 1992. Airlink operates over 50 commercial jetliners operating to more than 45 destinations in 14 African countries and to St Helena Island, making it the largest privately-owned regional airline in Africa. Airlink continues to expand its route network, connecting more African cities and promoting tourism and trade across the continent.

2022 WINNER - Sanjeev Gadhia, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Astral Aviation

Sanjeev launched cargo carrier Astral Aviation in 2000, which is an All-Cargo airline based in Kenya, operating a fleet of 14 Freighters from its hubs in Nairobi, Johannesburg, Dubai and Liege into Europe, Middle East, Asia and within Africa.

In 2020, Sanjeev was appointed Chairman of AFRAA’s (African Airlines Association) Cargo & Route Network Committee and is currently Vice Chairman of TIACA (The International Air Cargo Association) and recognized for being the only Board Member from Africa. Sanjeev is rated as a “New Generation Leader for Africa” by the prestigious African Leadership Network and is a recipient of the “East Africa Innovation Leadership Award” from the World Federation of Innovation Professionals.

2021 WINNER - Adefunke Adeyemi, Secretary General, AFCAC

Identified as one of the 200 Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) globally in recognition of her achievements, Adefunke Adeyemi is a transformative leader, agent of change and influencer, positively impacting lives and the business environment through her passion, work and initiatives. A product of the prestigious University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, she is a lawyer, advocate and aviation expert, focused on bringing value and international standards to everything she does, especially throughout her career spanning over 18 years

2019 WINNER - Raphael Kuuchi, Special Envoy on Aero-political Affairs

Raphael Kuuchi is the IATA Vice President for Africa. Prior to joining IATA he worked in the airline industry for many years in different managerial roles. For nine (9) years before moving to IATA, Mr. Kuuchi worked for the Nairobi-based African Airlines Association (AFRAA), as Director Commercial, Corporate and Industry Affairs. His expertise includes air transport management, aviation consulting, network and fleet planning and training. He has written and published many articles on aviation and was for over six years, the editor-in-chief of the famous Africa Wings magazine.

2018 WINNER - Chris Zweigenthal, former Chief Executive, Airlines Association of Southern Africa

Chris has a diverse background that includes experience in the construction, aviation, and business consulting industries. With over 30 years of experience in the aviation industry, he has gained a deep understanding of various fields across the airline business spectrum. This experience has helped him organize successful conferences such as the AASA Annual General Assembly for over 20 years.

2017 WINNER - Ato Girma Wake, Aviation Expert

Girma Wake, a pioneering figure in African aviation, has left an indelible mark on the continent's airspace. Serving as the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines from 2004 to 2011, Wake spearheaded the airline's transformation into Africa's largest and most profitable carrier. Under his leadership, Ethiopian Airlines expanded its routes, modernized its fleet, and embraced cutting-edge technology, positioning it as a global player in the aviation industry. Wake's strategic vision and unwavering commitment to excellence not only elevated Ethiopian Airlines but also set a high standard for other African carriers to emulate. Beyond his tenure at Ethiopian Airlines, Wake's influence extended to the broader aviation community, where he championed initiatives to improve safety standards and foster cooperation among African airlines. His legacy as a visionary leader and trailblazer continues to inspire the next generation of aviation professionals across the African continent.