Etisalat/9Mobile Prize for Literature

Is this the end of the road for the Etisalat/9Mobile Prize for Literature?

The annual African literary award has not held since 2017 when its major sponsor experienced a change of ownership from Etisalat to 9Mobile.

Although in January 2018, the award committee announced a shortlist that has: Nigeria’s Lesley Nneka Arimah, for What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky; Nigeria’s Ayobami Adebayo, for Stay with Me; and South Africa’s Marcus Low, for Asylum. Since then, nothing else was heard.

The Patrons of the award have released a press release of their resignation due to 9 Mobiles nonchalant attitude towards the award.

Read the announcement below:


In 2012, under the leadership of the Etisalat High-Value Events & Sponsorships department, we the undersigned accepted an invitation to serve as Founding Patrons of the Etisalat Prize for African Literature. It is a source of great pride for us all that within a few short years the Prize was established as an internationally recognised literary award for African writing and that the annual announcement cycle became a noted part of the literary calendar.

With the transition from Etisalat to 9Mobile, we understood there would be a period of change and adjustment. However, it is with dismay and sadness then, that we have watched over the last two years as what was fast becoming an institution has been allowed to disappear without any announcement or explanation from the sponsors.

It is with deep regret that we must acknowledge the demise of what was an important initiative in supporting and celebrating the best of African cultural and literary output.

In January 2018 a shortlist of three books was announced. The date for the announcement of the winner was never announced – indeed, 9Mobile has failed to issue any further communication. The writers have been left in limbo and speculation and rumour is rife regarding the fate of the Prize. As Patrons with a deep and abiding commitment to supporting African authors and publishers, we feel this is a situation we cannot allow to continue. We have earlier this week, contacted the 9Mobile executive to inform them of our resignation with immediate effect.


Ama Ata Aidoo

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, OBE

Margaret Busby, OBE

Sarah Ladipo Manyika

Zakes Mda

Dele Olojede

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