– Out of 1259 entries, only 5% made it as nominees
– The nominees displayed high level of innovation in the fight against COVID-19
– Safety cannot win in an atmosphere of selfishness, greed and self-centeredness
The Africa Safety Award For Excellence (AfriSAFE) is one-of-its-kind. In a shortime, it has burgeoned into an illustrious item acknowledged by well-meaning citizens of Africa’s safety industry and even, experts on the international scene. In this Interview, The Chief Coordinating Officer (CCO) of AfriSAFE, Femi Da-Silva
elucidates widely on the progress, challenges and vision of AfriSAFE. Excerpts:
Can you tell us how it has been so far on the journey of AfriSAFE?
So far, the journey has been amazing and at the same time challenging. Before I proceed, I would like to use this medium to appreciate Health and Safety stakeholders across Africa for all their support. Their support helps to keep the brand alive and has helped us to evolve from the challenges we faced when we first started. So, Africa Safety Award for Excellence (AfriSAFE) is a brainchild of HSENations, which is arguably Nigeria’s foremost safety and health news blog and gradually moving up in Africa’s rating.
It is an annual award project that commits to celebrating the best of Health, Safety, and Wellbeing Professionals for the achievements they record in their efforts to keep our facilities and lives safe.
AfriSAFE covers all specialities of Health, Safety, and Wellbeing practice and aims to be the biggest unifying industry catalyst in Africa while recognizing exceptional professionalism, rewarding excellence, and raising awareness on the prevention of hazards.
The first edition that was held in 2019 at Sheraton Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria brought together notable safety professionals, captain of industries, social media influencers and corporate organizations from six African countries for a night event of glitz, glamour and professionalism. Not to forget that we received no less than 1,223 submitted valid nomination entries from 12 African countries in that year.
This year, there is a slight increase in the number of nominations entries. We recorded 1259 nomination entries, though from 11 Africa countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Equatorial-Guinea, Cameroon, Cape Verde and DR Congo.
As I have said, it has been amazing, but it has also been challenging. In all, it has been a good journey.
What do you hope to achieve with AfriSAFE?
From day one, one thing is clear, AfriSAFE is not just an award. To put it clearer, AfriSAFE is more than ‘Just An Award’. We see it as an agenda and a movement for change, a clarion call for a Safer Africa.
You only need to flip through the pages of newspapers or surf the net to come across sad stories of various health and safety issues that resulted from preventable workplace accidents and environmental hazards. To put an end to this, professionals have a lot to do and must start taking actions. Hence, AfriSAFE was instituted to inspire and deepen the commitment of our people towards health, safety and the environment.
AfriSAFE is an inspiration catalyst for safety professionals, more like what Grammy, Oscars and AMVCA awards etc. do for entertainers. You can expect a lot from us.
This year’s award focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic, what does this award intend to contribute positively?
We were already preparing for an amazing physical event when the news of the pandemic hit the media, it was not until June that we realized that we needed to do something to encourage those who are in the safety field and have done something remarkable in this area. That is why this year’s Award is dedicated to frontline workers & individuals/organizations/groups who have contributed immensely towards curtailing the spread of the virus via various initiatives including innovation, proactiveness and effective responses, unique interventions, acts of heroism and selflessness, etc. Our focus is on safety professionals / practicitioners and organizations, although there are many more who have equally done much in other fields but we can only do the little we can do.
This year as well, we will be honouring some high school students and few others in other field who have been nominated and have distingusied themselves this year through one innovation to another.
What are the challenges faced in organizing AfriSAFE?
There are quite a number of challenges to be faced in organising any award event of AfriSAFE standard. Some people’s poor perception and also delay in submitting required documents to back up the nomination are just things you have to deal with.
Even some multinational companies are guilty of delaying the submission of evidence needed to uphold the vote of confidence passed on them by the public. They most times respond to their email very late as such we had to disqualify the entry.
Also, we are yet to penetrate much into all African countries and the reason is obvious, an award like this costs money. That is why we are always grateful to the passionate organizations sponsoring and supporting us.
We are making some impact already but to make the kind of impact we would love to make, we need good money, more headline sponsors. We can do a lot more if we have more category and title sponsorship. Aside from recognizing these people that have done a lot in promoting health and safety, we can also better raise awareness about health and safety while promoting the event, as I said earlier, AfriSAFE is not just an award but a movement for a safer environment and workplace.
Can you breakdown the nomination entry figure?
Yes. Like I mentioned earlier, we had over 1200.
Nigeria having the larger percentage of entries, with 45%, followed by Ghana, Kenya and South Africa with 15 %, then Zimbabwe with 4% and the rest were shared among Zambia, Egypt, Equatorial-Guinea, Cameroon, Cape Verde and DR Congo.
How do you intend to reach the rest of African countries seeing that Nigeria has that large percentage of entries?
First, it is expected that Nigeria would have the highest level of entries for obvious reasons. The brand started from Nigeria and the organizers are familiar brand name in the Nigerian health and safety industry. The people in Nigeria trust the brand.
Going forward, we intend partnering with various organizations and safety professionals’ institutes across Africa to be able to have a bigger impact.
Interestingly, during our publicity campaign of ‘Safety My Language’, the publicity spread across several Africa countries and more people got to know about the Award and they were like, “we were not aware of this, we would have nominated this and that”.
Over 20 countries in Africa participated in the campaign and between 5 to 8 from outside Africa. Even as far as Pakistan, Germany, etc. participated.
So with this, we are certain of a bigger more inclusive event next year, we intend channelling lots of publicity across these countries to raise awareness about safety and health while celebrating those who help achieve a safer work environment and communities.
This year’s AfriSAFE ceremony is to be held virtually, what are your expectations?
The expectations are high, although we encountered quite some challenges organizing it, which is one of the reasons why we had to reschedule the Award date from September to November. Nevertheless, we are hopeful for a better award celebration this year. We are certain that it is going to be a mixture of professionalism and fun. We want people to come and feel relaxed virually. Aside from the opportunity to network, people should be able to have the satisfaction of a relaxed evening.
How do you pick your final nominees?
It is important I explain the process here.
First, the award is nomination based, for you to get into the award process, you MUST be nominated.
You visit www.afrisafe.org and nominate your choice organization or individual for an award. Fill the form correctly with all details required.
Secondly, the nomination is vetted to ensure it meet the eligibility requirements and it undergoes a quick initial review. The entry will then receive a nomination email if they are moving on to the next. They will be required to answer brief assessment questions and to submit some required documents as evidence.
This evidence is then verified and further evaluated and investigated.
Finally, our independent judges review the responses and document submitted and awards mark based on a predetermined score point. When the average is taken, any entries that fall below 5 are not considered AfriSAFE Nominees.
Been an AfriSAFE nominee is a great achievement because out of over 1200 valid entries, only less than 5% made it as nominees, I think that tells a lot about what the organizations and individual were able to accomplish.
Any last word?
Our most profound appreciation to our key sponsors Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), Hybrid Group, Combined Training Solution (CTS) Globe, Safety Consultant and Solutions Provider (SCSP), Eximia Realty and Surveillant Fire Limited and all our highly esteemed supporters both corporate and individual.
Finally, safety cannot win in an atmosphere of selfishness, greed and self-centeredness but love. We must learn to accommodate each other and support each other. Collaboration is the way to go. With collaboration, we can achieve more. The greatness of a man is not what he possesses but what he gives, let’s come together as professionals and collaborate for the greater good of humanity.