Celebrating an Illustrious African Hero – Carl Manlan

Celebrating an Illustrious African Hero – Carl Manlan

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Many are called but few are chosen. This popular adage encapsulates the recognition bestowed upon Carl Manlan, Chief Operating Officer of the Ecobank Foundation, for his relentless efforts to ‘move the needle of human progress’ on the African continent.

The Ivorian was recently named the Frontline Hero of the year 2020 by the African Silent Heroes Award jury, an honour that was highly contested by reputable men and women who made remarkable strides in the fight against COVID-19. This award reminds Manlan of the value each and everyone can contribute to efforts to shape a more prosperous continent and the world at large.

“The award recognises the contribution of many good Samaritans that I met along the way. Each one has been generous with their time, advice, lessons, and their willingness to challenge my thinking. It also means that the work of learning is incomplete. And ultimately, it means that the belief that my children and their generation will live in a better continent is taking shape for us, by us and for the world,” he says.

The Frontline Heroes Award, championed by the Africa Silent Heroes Foundation rewards Africans who over the years, quietly and repeatedly execute extraordinary community development philanthropy within their African communities.

It is no surprise that Manlan emerged winner of the award in his category. His ceaseless contributions to the health sector cannot go unnoticed. His critical writings that build awareness, shape thinking and inform better healthcare policies on the continent are some of the silent strides Manlan silently and tirelessly makes on the continent.

“I have written extensively on the issues at hand in the health sector as well as their ramifications to the development agenda. One of my favourite pieces is my collaboration with the Spokesperson of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission as we put forward the work on which Africans continue to build to advance the only agenda that matters to Africa: human progress,” he explains.

“I find myself in a position where I contributed to a Pan-African’s bank work in malaria and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Specifically, working with SMEs to redefine how CEOs engage with their communities in the fight against malaria. In addition, turning the outcome of a staff survey into a three-year program where each staff member and their network know that they can take a step against NCDs,” Manlan humbly enumerates some of the engagements that earned him this recognition. His expertise was put at the service of Africans as resources were galvanized to curb the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus on the continent.

“In these times of transition, I was fortunate to work with continental leaders in the fight against COVID-19 both at Speak Up Africa and Africa CDC to allow any African citizen and member of the diaspora to contribute to the continental effort,” the ingenious Board member of the West Africa Civil Society Institute explains.

A versatile economist whom all Ivorians are proud of for raising the country’s flag high, Manlan attributes his passion for making contributions to improve the health sector on the continent to the robust foundations laid in him by his parents.

“I was very fortunate to observe my parents’ dedication to public service and improving African health systems. They made me understand that transformation starts and ends with health. So, to be able to continue what they have started is a blessing. They were health professionals and their passion for saving lives stayed with me,” Manlan alludes.

It is widely known that more is expected from him whom much is given. This resonates with Manlan. Spurred by this award, he is poised to work in tandem with other stakeholders to make more wins for the African health sector in the years ahead.

“The award reminds me that I have to find more Africans that are willing and able to do what it takes to tell the next generation, in their eyes, that we did all that we could to move the needle of human progress,” he emphasizes.

Recognising the gruesome health challenges facing the African continent, Manlan makes an urgent plea for all Africans to take the necessary basic actions to overcome these challenges plaguing the health and wellbeing of our people and continent. Particularly given the COVID-19 pandemic that is badly staring at us, Manlan appeals that:

“Prevention is the best cure. It takes awareness, discipline, and solidarity for better health. Awareness of the things to do to avoid infection is critical. Furthermore, the discipline to stay healthy within constraints and finally the solidarity that breaks artificial social barriers as COVID-19 reminded us that it affects anyone who may be caught off guard in the prevention fight.


1 Comment

  1. Harrison Owusu

    Says January 29, 2021 at 7:01 am

    Carl Mandan, the extra ordinary gentleman of our time!

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Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.


Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.


Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.


Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.


Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.


George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.


Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.


Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.


Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.


Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.


Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.


Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.


Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.


Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.


Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.


Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.


Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.


Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.


Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.


Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.