A South African court has suspended construction work on a huge new business park that will house Amazon’s Africa headquarters in Cape Town after a challenge by Indigenous group.
A legal battle is looming over plans to build Amazon’s multi-million-dollar African headquarters on land cherished by South Africa’s indigenous Khoi San people.
Amazon is setting up its African HQ in Cape Town — a project with the promise of thousands of jobs in a country where unemployment is cripplingly high.
City authorities last month approved the construction of a nine-storey business and residential complex on a greenfield site that will be anchored by Amazon.
Its offices will provide total floor space of 70,000 square metres (7.5 million feet) — equivalent to almost 10 football pitches.
But some of the country’s first inhabitants, the Khoi Khoi and San — whose presence in the southern tip of the continent has been dated by archaeologists to thousands of years — say the project desecrates ancestral land.
They say it lies on a battlefield in which the Khoi defended the territory from Portuguese colonisers in 1510.
“Our heritage will be completely wiped out,” paramount chief Aran Goringhaicona told AFP this week. “There is so much spiritual significance to this place.”
He represents the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoi Indigenous Traditional Council, which is among the indigenous, environmental and community activists contesting the scheme.
Led by a neighbourhood group, the Observatory Civic Association (OCA), they wrote to the developer Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT) this week stating their intention to appeal the project in the courts.
Construction of the four-billion-rand ($283 million / 234 million euro) complex is due to start little more than a month from now.
The group is also questioning environmental approvals for the riverside site, said OCA chair Leslie London.
Cape Town is already struggling with episodes of severe floods and drought — a risk that could be amplified when climate change goes into higher gear, London argued.
City authorities say the impact on floods is “minimal” and the site will be built up above the 100-year flood
Amazon, which has been operating in South Africa for 15 years, declined to comment on the development.
The tech giant has named Ojo chief marketing officer of Prime Video and Amazon Studios
Ukonwa Ojo, whose previous positions included CMO for MAC Cosmetics and for Coty, will lead global brand and originals marketing for Amazon.
She will report to Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios.
Andy Donkin will move from head of global marketing for video operations to a new, as yet unannounced position, Hopkins told staff in a memo published by Deadline.
In the memo, Hopkins described Ojo as “one of the world’s leading marketing executives,” with a “two-decade track record as a builder of top global brands.”
Ojo’s “wide-ranging experience will give us a broader perspective on how to connect customers to the Prime Video brand and grow our business by marketing our content in innovative ways to develop an even stronger emotional connection with our audiences,” he added. “Over the course of her career, Ukonwa has been recognized with over 50 awards and honors for driving outstanding market-leading results and delivering creative campaigns and innovations that motivate people to act.”
At MAC, Ukonwa focused on customer engagement and product innovation. At Coty, she led P&L, brand development strategy, advertising, innovation, social/digital, design, and media planning/buying.
Previously, she was a senior vice president at CoverGirl, and held brand and general management positions at Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser, General Mills Corp. and Meadwestvaco Corp.
Ojo holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Read Hopkins’ memo announcing Ojo’s hire:
Hello Team –
I’m writing today to share some news. One of the world’s leading marketing executives, Ukonwa Ojo, is joining the Amazon team as Chief Marketing Officer, Prime Video and Amazon Studios. Ukonwa begins her new role leading our global brand and originals marketing on September 21st, reporting directly to me.
Andy Donkin will be moving into a new position at Amazon, which will be announced soon; in the interim, he will continue to report to me. Andy will help Ukonwa transition into her new role and get to know the marketing team. His direct reports will now report to Ukonwa. I want to thank Andy for his significant contributions in helping to grow the Prime Video business over the last 2½ years and for his leadership of the marketing team.
As an award-winning marketer, Ukonwa has a fantastic two-decade track record as a builder of top global brands. Her wide-ranging experience will give us a broader perspective on how to connect customers to the Prime Video brand and grow our business by marketing our content in innovative ways to develop an even stronger emotional connection with our audiences.
Ukonwa comes to us from M∙A∙C Cosmetics, where she served as Chief Marketing Officer, responsible for championing M∙A∙C’s brand positioning and increasing its presence and appeal to a global consumer in growing markets around the world. She helped drive customer engagement strategies and delivered breakthrough product innovation in order to maximize consumer connection to the iconic brand.
Before joining M∙A∙C, Ukonwa was Chief Marketing Officer, Consumer Beauty at Coty, where she oversaw brand development strategy, advertising, innovation, social/digital and other areas including collaboration with some of the biggest names in the entertainment business. She also held brand and general management roles at Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser PLC and General Mills Corporation.
Over the course of her career, Ukonwa has been recognized with over 50 awards and honors for driving outstanding market-leading results and delivering creative campaigns and innovations that motivate people to act. Her recognition includes Business Insider’s Most Innovative CMOs, AdAge 50 and A List, Adweek 50, WWD Brand Builder of the Year, WFA Global Marketer of the Year List, Financial Times Upstanding 100 and Black Enterprise’s 25 Women Changing the World. She is also a member of the 2020 Class of Henry Crown Fellows within the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute.
I’m proud of our incredible marketing team and I’m looking forward to the exciting possibilities under Ukonwa’s leadership.
For a virtual introduction to Ukonwa and a preview of her marketing philosophy, click here. Please join me in welcoming her to the team.