The premier basketball league in North America, the National Basketball Association (NBA), has named Rwandan lawyer and businesswoman Clare Akamanzi as its new chief executive officer for its Africa division.
In addition to supervising the league’s expansion throughout the continent, NBA Africa also manages the Basketball Africa League (BAL), the leading basketball league in Africa.
The appointee joins NBA Africa after more than six years as the chief executive of the Rwanda Development Board. Under her leadership, the board signed high-profile sports partnerships, including with the BAL and European soccer giants like Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, according to Sportcal.
Reporting to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum, Akamanzi’s responsibilities will include managing sponsorships, community outreach programs, media rights agreements, and commercial partnerships for the league.
Tatum said of her, “Clare’s business acumen, international experience, and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa.”
“NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership, we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities, and lives across the continent. I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families, and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that.”
Tatum added, “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.”
Given that many of its biggest performers over the years have come from Africa, the NBA has long aimed to increase its influence there.
NBA games are televised in all 54 African countries via broadcast behemoth beIN Sports in North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa on a combination of ESPN, Canal+ Afrique, and its own NBA TV service, as well as the South African Broadcasting Corporation in South Africa.
In 2022, the league renewed its partnership with ESPN on the continent, ensuring that over 180 regular-season games would be broadcast across Africa on ESPN Africa.
Akamanzi’s tenure begins on January 23.