NBA forms new entity to oversee African growth

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has created a new, standalone entity valued at nearly ‘$1 billion’, to conduct the league’s business in Africa, including the Basketball Africa League (BAL) – a partnership between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).

Accelerating growth across the continent, NBA Africa funding will contribute to the growth of the BAL whilst helping to expand the NBA’s presence in priority African markets and Africa’s basketball ecosystem.

Moreover, the project will deepen the league’s engagement with players and fans through initiatives such as the launch of additional NBA Academies and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families, including gender equality and economic inclusion efforts announced earlier in March.

NBA Africa CEO, Victor Williams, explained: “The successful formation and funding of NBA Africa as a standalone entity is indicative of the rich history of the NBA in Africa, the power of the NBA’s vision for the growth of the game on the continent, and the strong commitment by our outstanding new partners to support that vision.

“I’d like to thank the entire NBA Africa team, led for the last decade by Amadou Gallo Fall and John Manyo-Plange, for the work they have done to lay the foundation for the game on the continent which has made this milestone possible.”

Plans for a new professional league featuring 12 club teams from across Africa were first unveiled in 2019, with the inaugural season now underway in Kigali, Rwanda, and the first BAL Finals pencilled for 30 May.

“Today’s announcement is the result of many years of investment and on-the-ground work to grow the game of basketball in Africa and a recognition of the enormous opportunities ahead for the NBA on the continent,” added NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver. “We believe that basketball can become a top sport across Africa over the next decade, and I look forward to working closely with our investors to make that goal a reality.”

Announced ahead of Africa Day, the strategic investors include a consortium led by Babatunde ‘Tunde’ Folawiyo, Chairman and CEO of Yinka Folawiyo Group; and Helios Fairfax Partners Corporation (HFP), led by Tope Lawani, Co-CEO of HFP and Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Helios Investment Partners, HFP’s investment advisor. 

Furthermore, Lawani and Folawiyo will also join the NBA Africa Board of Directors, which is led by Williams, Silver and NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, Mark Tatum.

NBA Global Ambassador and NBA Africa investor, Dikembe Mutombo, said: “This is a historic day for basketball in Africa, and I’m honored to join this special group of leaders who are committed to the continent and to using the game to improve people’s lives. I’m fortunate to have been among the first players from Africa to make an impact in the NBA, and because of the commitment of these individuals, countless more players will have the opportunity to follow in my footsteps in the years ahead.”

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