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Meet Mark Okoye, Africa’s Young Person of the Year

By Chuks Nwanne
24 December 2016   |   3:38 am
Few months after he was appointed Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget in Anambra State, at the age of 30, Mark Okoye has emerged winner of The Future Awards Africa 2016 ...
Mark Okoye

Mark Okoye

Few months after he was appointed Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget in Anambra State, at the age of 30, Mark Okoye has emerged winner of The Future Awards Africa 2016, the biggest youth event in the continent. However, his emergence is no surprise to keen observers; he has always been a high flyer.

Held at the Federal palace Hotel & Casino, Victoria Island, Lagos, the award ceremony, which is now in its eleventh year, brought together young people from different parts of the continent, top political leaders and captains of industry, with president elect of Ghana Dr. Nana Akufo-Addo as keynote speaker.

A graduate of the prestigious George Washington University, Washington, DC, Okoye is the key player in regenerating the Anambra state economy and a sterling example for a generation typically averse to public service. At thirty years old, he became the youngest member of the Governor Obiano-led cabinet in 2016 and one of the youngest government officials in the country. Okoye brings his experience as a senior member of the investment banking division at Afrinvest (West Africa) Limited, where he was instrumental in executing numerous capital raising and financial advisory transactions to his new position, leaving an illustrious investment banking career, to join the Anambra State Economic Think-Tank.

This led to his appointment as Special Adviser to Governor Obiano on Economic Planning, Budget and Investments in 2015. His role involves him running the day-to-day activities of the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget. In addition, he has operational and strategic oversight over Anambra State Investment Promotion & Protection Agency. The Harvard Kennedy School and Euromoney, Dubai alumnus has experience in governance, policy formulation, public sector financing, public budget analysis and corporate finance. He is undoubtedly shaping the future and economic wellbeing of our great country.

However, before he was given his present role in Anambra, he served in his current capacity for a year and eight months in the last administration and he waited for his time to come. Sources revealed that the Anambra State House Assembly had previously refused to grant him his new position prior to now, as he was deemed ‘under-age.’ But once he clocked 30 and after much clamouring, his appointment was approved and made final by Governor Willie Obiano.

Under his supervision, 10,000 jobs have been created in Anambra as a result of investment inflows into key sectors of Anambra’s economy such as Agriculture, Trade & Commerce and Manufacturing.  He has been nominated by the Vice President of Nigeria to serve as a Member & South East Geopolitical Zone Representative of the National Economic Council Retreat Implementation Monitoring Committee. He Led investment promotion teams that facilitated the successful launch of numerous Public-Private-Partnership projects in the State. Some of these investments include Coscharis farms – $100m, Lynden Poultry Farms – $40m and Anambra Delfarms Ltd – $60m.

He has also introduced monthly performance reviews to monitor the State’s internally generated revenues (IGRs), monitoring statewide initiatives that led to the increase of IGRs from N600m/month to approximately N1.3bn/month in 12 months.

The Future Awards Africa is a set of prizes given annually to celebrate and accelerate innovation, creativity and enterprise amongst young Africans aged 18 – 31. It has produced over 150 winners and over 1550 nominees since its first edition in 2006. It is presented in conjunction with The Future Project, which has a mandate to build empowered citizens across Africa, through (inclusive) enterprise and (active) citizenship. This focus on Human Capital Development is informed by our value proposition: Africa’s growth needs a generation of young people who are gainfully employed and able to demand and secure better leadership.