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Hello, welcome to Africa Newsflash which comes to you under awful circumstances. We’re reporting on the passing of Nigerian banker and philanthropist Herbert Wigwe, chief executive of Access Holdings, in a helicopter crash on Friday night in California.

Needless to say, this is a tragedy and one that has affected many Nigerians in the business and government realm but also many in the African corporate community. I first met Herbert in Lagos last July. I was immediately impressed by the scale of his ambition and his acute understanding of the importance of raising the bar in telling Africa’s stories.

As it turned out, it would not be our only meeting. I ran into him in Lomé, Togo, in November at the AFIS summit. He invited me up to his suite where he shared his plans to launch Access Bank in its first Asian market at some point this quarter. Last month, I was invited to moderate a panel with Herbert at the DLD conference in Munich, Germany, where he laid out his vision for improving higher education at home on the continent. It was about a week after he shared that vision as our inaugural One Big Idea guest columnist.

As the news started to trickle in over the last few hours, it became clear that his loss will be felt far and wide way beyond Nigerian banking. It’s a devastating loss for the continent. As one shellshocked person close to his team told me, “he was engaged in so many transformational projects across Africa.” Another veteran pan-African banker, who had worked with him on his early continental expansion into countries including DR Congo and Angola, said: “Herbert was a bulldozer.”

Over the next few days you will read many more deserved encomiums and tributes.

Rest in peace, Herbert

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