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The 100 most influential Africans (71-80)

By Alison Culliford, Olivia Konotey-Ahulu, Nicholas Norbrook, Oheneba Ama Nti Osei and Marshall Van Valen
Posted on Thursday, 16 May 2019 18:26

TAR 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

71 – Fatou Bensouda

Prosecutor under pressure

Gambia

The next era of the International Criminal Court is being shaped by its chief prosecutor. With the international winds blowing against many multilateral institutions and the collapse of the court’s cases against former president Laurent Gbagbo and the release of former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba, there is now a crucial window for international justice to demonstrate its relevance and competence.

72 – Moustapha Cissé

Natural and artificial intelligence

Senegal

“We need a pan-African strategy: a set of ambitious goals for AI education, research and development and industrialisation.” Artificial intelligence and robotics in Africa have a champion in the boss of Google’s AI centre in Ghana’s capital Accra. The outfit’s focus is on machine learning and the use of technology in medicine. He is committed to ensuring that technology addresses the lives of people who need its impact the most.

73 – Ibrahim Mahama

Going places

Ghana

The Ghanaian artist has given new value to jute sacks, and it is paying off. His use of the tattered material – a popular object used to transport cocoa beans in Ghana – in large-scale installations has been recognised beyond national borders, making him the youngest Ghana-based artist to show at the Venice Biennale in Italy. This is just the beginning for Mahama, who is preparing to open an artist-run space called SCCA-Tamale in his birthplace of Tamale in northern Ghana that will serve as a project and exhibition space, artist residency and research hub.

74 – Nunu Ntshingila

Connecting the continent

South Africa

Facebook’s outsized popularity as a communication tool in Africa gives the social media network’s continental boss a crucial role. With a background in marketing, she aims to get millions more of Africa’s youth on the platform. A champion of equality, she complained: “Today, as we sit in South Africa, only 2.4% of women are CEOs. That is absolutely nothing.”

75 – Khalifa Haftar

Stubborn strongman

Libya

It is improbable that a peace plan for Libya will be agreed without the buy-in of Libyan National Army leader Haftar. The anti-Islamist leader has the backing of allies including Russia and Egypt. He threw planned peace talks out the window and is now trying to take control of Libya’s capital, Tripoli.

76 – Ken Njoroge

On the fintech frontier

Kenya

Scoring a $47.5m investment from US firm TPG in May 2018 puts the fintech firm Cellulant at the forefront of Africa’s fitech space, with its drive to digitise payments and other services. The backing will help Cellulant to expand its operations on the continent. Njoroge has been at the helm of the Nairobi-based company since he co-founded it with Bolaji Akinboro in 2003.

77 – Wanuri Kahiu

Concerned creator

Kenya

The banning of Kahiu’s film Rafiki in Kenya could not have come at a better time: happening just as the film premièred at Cannes Film Festival in 2018, it exposed the perils faced by many LBGTQ people on the continent. Prior to this, her short film Pumzi used the Afrofuturism genre as a way to express ecological and political concerns. A master storyteller, she has turned her hand to children’s books and recently signed to direct a film, Covers, for Working Title and Universal.

78 – Amina J Mohammed

Goal-oriented

Nigeria

Mohammed has shepherded the UN’s development goals for almost two decades. In Nigeria, she coordinated programmes worth $1bn annually as a special adviser on the Millennium Development Goals, then she crossed
over to Washington DC to advise Ban Ki-Moon on the Sustainable Development Goals. After a spell as Nigeria’s environment minister in 2016-17 she was back as UN deputy secretary-general. Mohammed teaches at Columbia University, and is a prolific board member.

79 – Mostafa Terrab

Renaissance man of phosphates

Morocco

Before he took over at Morocco’s largest company, the Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP), the engineer spent many years in the US, including teaching at the MIT and leading the World Bank’s Information for Development programme. His adoption of American-style management is partly what has helped transform the phosphate miner since 2008, selling largely into the US. Terrab is now leading a push into the continent, signing deals in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Ghana to build fertiliser plants.

80 – Mahmood Mamdani

Provocative scholar

Uganda

on both sides of the Atlantic (he directs the Makerere Institute of Social Research and is a professor at Columbia University, New York), Mamdani’s reputation was made by Citizen and Subject, a book which reignited debate around the legacy of colonialism. He is providing some of the critical thinking that has been lacking in reactions to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s sweeping reforms in Ethiopia, warning in the New York Times that Abiy’s policies could lead to “Africa’s next inter-ethnic conflict”.

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