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The 100 most influential Africans (61-70)

By Alison Culliford, Olivia Konotey-Ahulu, Nicholas Norbrook, Oheneba Ama Nti Osei and Marshall Van Valen
Posted on Friday, 17 May 2019 19:58

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.

61 – Kwame Anthony Appiah

Contemporary questioner


Engaging with ideas of race and identity, the New York University-based thinker is tackling questions of a global nature in times when nativist forces are questioning the global infrastructure of the post-Second World War period. He argues that local attachment and cosmopolitanism can be reconciled, saying in a recent Foreign Affairs article: “Forgetting that we are all citizens of the world – a small, warming, intensely vulnerable world – would be a reckless relaxation of vigilance.”

62 – Achille Mbembe

Public intellectual


The South Africa-based Cameroonian academic is a revered voice across the continent, and not only influential in academia, but also in other public bodies. His ideas on postcolonialism, gathered in a collection of critical essays continue to shape the thinking on democracy. He explained: “Postcolonial thinking stresses humanity-in-the-making, the humanity that will emerge once the colonial figures of the inhuman and of racial difference have been swept away.”

63 – Edward Enninful



The formerly white bastion of British Vogue has been shaken up by Enninful, who took over the coveted editor’s chair in April 2017. A model at 16 and fashion director of the magazine i-D at 18, the Ghana-born influencer thrust diversity into the spotlight back in 2008 when he organised the “Black Issue” of Vogue Italia to combat the “white-out that dominates the catwalks and magazines” (the magazine sold out and had to print an extra 40,000 copies). He is pushing for much more empathy in an industry that is not well known for that skill. The Queen of England awarded him an OBE in 2016; the Queen of New York, Anna Wintour, may favour him as her successor, if what the rumour mill is saying turns out to be true.

64 – Vera Songwe

Adding it up


Armed with a wealth of experience in delivering development results for Africa, Songwe has been working to shake up institutions and buttress economic growth, first as the regional director of the International Finance Corporation covering West and Central Africa and now in her current position as executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. A respected voice on development and economic issues in Africa, the Cameroonian economist and former World Bank director has certainly earned her stripes.

65 – Louise Mushikiwabo

Diplomat extraordinaire


Securing the support of both France and the African Union in her bid to lead the 84-member Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie in October last year was a remark- able achievement for Mushikiwabo, who had to face off against Québécois Canadian Michaëlle Jean, the incumbent secretary general at the time, who was seeking re-election. Formerly Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, the diplomat-cum-gender advocate is at the top echelons of the Rwandan  government and is a well-known member of President Kagame’s inner circle.

66 – James Mworia

Meteoric rise


Not many people rise from intern to CEO in seven years but such is the atypical career path of Mworia. At age 30, the multiple- award-winning lawyer and businessman was appointed CEO of Centum Investments, the largest publicly-traded private capital firm in East Africa, and has since restructured the company into a powerful investor in the East African economy. In his first six years as CEO, Centum’s asset base increased exponentially, from KSh6bn ($69m) to close to KSh30bn.

67 – Akwaeke Emezi

Poetry in emotion


Emezi’s highly acclaimed début autobiographical novel, Freshwater, has been hailed as “one of the decade’s most intriguing works of fiction”. The novel which forces readers to confront their views on issues such as mental illness and mysticism, tells the coming-of-age story of Ada, and her struggle with several inner voices in a multiple self. The Igbo and Tamil writer, who identifies as a “nonbinary trans and plural person”, is set to have an exciting year in 2019, with the publication of two new novels; a second adult novel The Death of Vivek Oji and a children’s book, Pet.

68 – Mohammed Dewji

Youthful gains


It came as no surprise when Dewji’s kidnapping by armed gunmen in Tanzania’s economic capital made international headlines in October 2018. The 43-year old Tanzanian businessman and former politician is considered Africa’s youngest billionaire, with a net worth estimated at $1.9bn as of January 2019. Dewji, who was released unharmed a week later, is the owner of his father’s company MeTL Group, a conglomerate active in product manufacturing and logistics in 11 countries across Eastern, Southern and Central Africa.

69 – Tony Elumelu

Engaging entrepreneur


With a branch network that spreads across 20 African countries and three global financial centres, United Bank for Africa brings Elumelu insights into the growth potential of African markets. And his networking is truly inter- national – he brought the French President Emmanuel Macron to an event in Lagos in July 2018, and was at the heart of former president Obama’s PowerAfrica initiative. But alongside this top-down strategy of conquest, there is also a bottom-up approach. His foundation brings in promising young entrepreneurs for training and cash. If the next Uber happens under his watch, Elumelu will be plugged into the next generation of wealth creation.

70 – Tony Attah

Riding on


The CEO of Nigeria LNG (NLNG) is at the forefront of one of the most promising liquefied natural gas projects in Africa. The $7bn Train 7 project will ensure sustainable feed gas supply to NLNG’s six existing trains and the new Train 7 when completed, and is expected to boost foreign direct investment in the country. When he’s not focused on Train 7, Attah dedicates his efforts to eliminating gas flaring in Nigeria, with NLNG having helped reduce flaring from about 65% to 20%.

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