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Obinna Ekezie

CEO, Wakanow, Nigeria

Obinna Ekezie leads the management team of Wakanow.com Limited. Prior to founding Wakanow, he co-founded ByMobilePhone Ltd, a wireless access service provider to mobile networks in Nigeria. ByMobilePhone Ltd was the exclusive distributor of ESPN and CNN mobile content in Nigeria.

He studied Mechanical Engineering and Business at the University of Maryland. He is also a TQM professional, having completed the IBM Total Quality Management Business Program. As an accomplished professional basketball player, he was drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1999 by the Vancouver Grizzlies, and played in the NBA for 5 years. He also played for Redstar Belgrade in Serbia, Lottomatica Roma in Italy and Dynamo Moscow in Russia before retiring in 2007.

Obinna is widely celebrated in various fora as a leading Entrepreneur in Africa, the highpoint being his recognition as the CNBC/ABLA Entrepreneur of the Year for 2015. This recognition is deserving of note as Wakanow is one of the fastest growing online businesses in Nigeria. In five years of its existence, it became Africa’s no 1 full-service online travel agency. Wakanow currently runs her commercial operations in Nigeria, Dubai, Ghana and Kenya. With an eye on a speedy global expansion, Obinna and his team are currently undertaking a large expansion project which will result in stronger footprint across Africa, the UK and USA.

He founded the company with a primarily focus on outbound travel from Nigeria and Ghana to destinations outside Africa such as UK, US and Dubai. But through the years, his vision expanded to also incorporate two different turfs- inbound travel of foreign nationals from Europe, America and Asia into Africa; and secondly Intra-Africa travel. This pursuit is consequent to the birth of ‘Destinations Africa’- a one-stop booking portal for Africa themed holiday with the proposition to showcase the natural beauty and economic potentials of the continent to her natives and the outer world at large.

Mr Ekezie realized that while there are thousands of Africans who would love to travel, most are constrained to limited options because of their inability to pay for their trips at once. Given that there is no formal credit system in most developing countries that would alleviate the effect of this circumstance, Obinna mobilized his team to provide a lasting solution to these travel challenges across Africa with the introduction of Wakanow Pay Small Small (PSS)- a flexible installment payment plan that also gives the traveler as much as 150% savings on their travel expenses. PSS is designed to allow travelers lock down choice travel deals by making only a 25% down payment of the travel cost and paying the balance in convenient installments before the travel date.
Furthermore, as a proof of his doggedness, Mr Ekezie led Wakanow through a fund raising process to secure an investment of $40million from the Carlyle Group signifying a vote of confidence in his visionary leadership and Wakanow’s bright future.

Mr Ekezie is also very passionate about facilitating movements across Africa, not just for holidays but also for the abounding economic potentials within the continent. He is presently leading various discussions with African Governments and Airlines on the trade and investment prospects of traveling within Africa.

With bravery, mental toughness and resilience of a star-athlete, Obinna continues to push forward the frontiers of travel and tourism in Africa and is moving Wakanow on the wings of a very exciting and promising future.

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