The 100 most influential Africans


The Africa Report’s inaugural ranking of the top Africans who control the levers of power across politics, business and the arts: from billionaire barons to unpredictable peacemakers and soft-power superstars

91 – Moulay Hafid Elalamy
Industrious planner

Morocco’s trade and industry minister is one of a small group of politicians who combine political power and business acumen. Elalamy founded the insurance company Saham, which South African insurer Sanlam bought a majority stake in for about $1bn last year. In his day job, Elalamy is overseeing plans for Morocco to strengthen its position in higher-value manufacturing projects, which have taken off in the automobile and aeronautics sectors.

92 – Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu
Power to the people!

Rallying the youth of Kampala with his ‘People Power’ message (see page 48), the singer and parliamentarian known as Bobi Wine has quickly become the most serious threat – other than the ravages of time – on the regime of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. He has yet to show that he can rattle the government’s foundations or if he will be able to transform his popularity into a long-term political force.

93 – Caster Semenya
Pushing forward on and off the track
South Africa

The middle-distance speedster is again in the spotlight as she takes on international sports authorities for their outdated takes on gender. Starring in popular Nike ads, she is an icon in the LGBT community. After winning three Diamond League titles in the 800m in 201 8, she is in fine form for the races ahead in 2019 and her case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the IAAF, which wants to force her to take drugs to reduce her testosterone levels.

94 – David Adomakoh
Black gold

Adomakoh, a former banker at JPMorgan Chase, is helping Norwegian start-up Aker Energy to make it big. It is planning a potential IPO this year on the back of its drilling success at the Pecan field. He is also a director at Kagiso Tiso Holdings, a South Africa-based investment firm that has big ambitions, and owns South Africa’s Business Day newspaper.

95 – Clare Akamanzi 
Building brand

African governments wanting to copy Rwanda’s success in attracting investment go straight to the government-run Rwanda Development Board. Akamanzi got the world talking last year when Rwanda signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Premier League side Arsenal. She is now working with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to help Rwandan companies to access the Chinese market.

96 – Sahle-Work Zewde 
Soft spoken soft power

While reformist premier Ahmed Abiy has Ethiopia’s hard power tools, President Sahle-Work is known for her soft-power politics. At her October 2018 inuguration, she explained her goal simply: “If the changes currently being made in Ethiopia are led by both men and women, their momentum will lead to an Ethiopia free of religious, ethnic or gender discrimination.”

97 – Njideka Akunyili 
Crosby Million-dollar marvel

A rising star on the art scene, Enugu-born artist Akunyili Crosby has grabbed the limelight for selling a painting last year for more than $3m. A late 2018 exhibition called ‘Counterparts’ highlighted her hybrid upbringing in Nigeria and later life in the United States. Her beautiful portraits bridge the gap between nostalgia for the present and living in the now.

98 – Bola Tinubu 
Lagos legend

With President Muhammadu Buhari having stormed to re-election in February, governing All Progressives Congress godfather Tinubu is planning out his next chapter. Lagos, the commercial capital, is his bastion in the south-west. The Abuja rumour mill is already talking about the potential for Tinubu, 66, to run in 2023 when Buhari ends his second term. Young guns are pushing for younger people to get more involved in politics, but the old guard is putting up a fight.

99 – Carlos Saturnino 
Crude prospects

The oil industry veteran has been back in control of Angola’s economic engine room. With Saturnino in charge, state oil company Sonangol reported a turnover of $17.7bn in 2018. The powerful firm has stakes in other businesses, like telecoms operator UNITEL, giving Saturnino an oversized influence on the country’s growth trajectory. His new focus on marginal fields is boosting lagging production at a time when it is needed most.

100 – Bridgette Radebe 
Mining might
South Africa

Radebe is one of South Africa’s bright lights in the mining sector and a deal-maker who opts to stay out of the spotlight. She also forms a power couple with her husband Jeff Radebe, who is energy minister in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government. She took over as chair of the Black Business Council in August of last year and serves as the president of the South African Mining Development Association.

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