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Qalaa Holdings Chairman named African Business Leader of the Year

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Ahmed Heikal, Chairman and Founder of Qalaa Holdings (formerly Citadel Capital), has been honoured with African Investor’s African Business Leader of the Year Award. The annual awards took place in Washington D.C. and recognise exceptional business practices, economic achievements and investments across Africa. Other winners included Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and the Kenyan Investment Authority.

“I am truly honoured to be recognised at such a prestigious venue and alongside such an esteemed list of key African business and investment figures,” said Heikal. “As I have noted repeatedly, we are truly in the midst of an African Century. Twelve of the world’s 20 fastest-growing economies in the next five years will likely be in North and Sub-Saharan Africa, and today our continent is a one-billion-strong consumer market, while in 2040 it will be home to the world’s largest working-age population. Our middle class is already more than 310-million strong, and our 18 largest cities will have a combined purchasing power of US$1.3 trillion by 2030,” he added.

Heikal founded Qalaa Holdings as a two-person partnership with Hisham El-Khazindar in 2004 with EGP2 million in capital. The company has since successfully shifted its investment model from a private equity firm to an investment holding company with accumulated assets on its balance sheet that are presently in excess of US$4.2 billion, extending its leadership in five core sectors: energy, transportation, agrifoods, mining and cement.

Elsewhere, Hisham El-Khazindar and the company’s Managing Director for the Transportation Division, Karim Sadek, were listed on Jeune Afrique’s annual ‘Top 100 African Leaders Under the Age of 40’, a list compiled by Paris-based Think Tank, Institute Choiseul.

El-Khazindar, who is also a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, placed third on the listing.

“It is an honor to be ranked and recognized amongst such an influential list of young Africans. We have always seen vast potential in African economies,” he said. “But in order for these economies to achieve their full potential we must bridge the knowledge gaps and provide more opportunities for youth to lead the way with new ideas and initiatives. Education will be key; from providing youth with the opportunity to pursue international-standard higher level education to ensuring access to public education and vocational training,” he added.

“Africa has outstanding macro fundamentals—including what will become the world’s largest and fastest-growing working age population by 2040—and a new generation of leaders in business and government are working to reshape the economic and political landscape. I am proud to be identified alongside a group of people who are all working to help African economies achieve their full potential,” said Sadek, who has overseen the successful turnaround of Rift Valley Railways (RVR), the national rail operator of Kenya and Uganda and a unit of Qalaa Holdings in the East African transportation and logistics sector.

Meanwhile, Mr Heikal has told press that the company expects to return to profit by early 2016 as it narrows its industry focus and divests non-cash generating assets.

Adapted from press releases by

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