Every year, the Africa CEO Forum celebrates the best of African business. On 25 March 2019, at the Africa CEO Forum awards, Ethiopian Airlines won “African Champion of the Year”. The win comes after Ethiopian Airlines has been under great scrutiny following the crash of flight ET302 on 10 March. The win was seen by many as a vote of confidence for the airline, which has survived an onslaught of negative headlines in the media.

The Africa CEO Forum, described on its website as “a leading international conference dedicated to the private sector in Africa”, which hosts the continent’s “top CEOs, international investors, experts and high-level policy makers every year”, had its meeting in Kigali, Rwanda. Here President Paul Kagame said, “Africa has immense, unlimited opportunity and capacity, knowledge and expertise. Young Africans are doing wonderful things for other continents; we should be doing that for ourselves.”

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Ethiopian Airlines staff posing with their award for Best Airline in Africa. Photo: Twitter/@flyethiopian

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In his acceptance speech, the Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, thanked Africans for their strong vote of confidence “even in the most challenging, trying and testing time”. Gebremariam offered his sincere and deep condolences to the families of the victims who lost their lives in the tragic accident that took place two weeks ago. He said, “We are very grateful for the trust of the public, who has stood with us in a very difficult and challenging time. The vote of confidence has been unbelievable. We have never seen such a huge vote of confidence for one of the strongest brands in Africa; a Pan-African airline. I take this opportunity to thank you all for all the support you have given us and continue to give us. Together we’ll make Africa great, and we’ll place Africa in its right place on the global stage.”

The award comes at a time when Ethiopian Airlines has received a lot of support from Africans all over the continent, defending the airline against headlines from predominantly Western media houses that questioned the airline’s credibility.