The 100 most influential Africans (11-20)
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.
11 – Mark Bristow
In September 2018, Bristow’s Randgold Resources signed a $6.5bn merger with Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp. When the opening bell rang on the New York Stock Exchange on 2 January, GOLD – the new stock for the merged company – was worth $23.75bn and Bristow was CEO of the world’s biggest gold miner by market cap. In March, Barrick Gold withdrew its $18bn bid for its biggest rival Newmont Mining, ending a hostile takeover effort that sought to make it the world’s largest gold miner. The two companies instead inked a deal to create a joint venture for their operations in Nevada, which will be operated and majority owned by Barrick Gold.
12 – Strive Masiyiwa
If Masiyiwa stands out as a Zimbabwean success story – he is the country’s first billionaire and now worth $2.3bn – today it is his philanthropy that matters. Through his Higherlife Foundation, he has provided scholarships for more than 100,000 young Africans; funded education, health and agriculture initiatives; and mentors on Facebook. Now he has entered the third phase: as thought leader he is on boards including the Africa Progress Panel, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.
We are working every day to invest in our communities and rural communities are no different because we believe in leaving no one behind in achieving Africa’s prosperity. #tuesdaythoughts#itbeginswithus pic.twitter.com/a9BEDjb071
— HigherlifeFoundation (@HigherLifeFDN) June 4, 2019
13 – Adebayo Ogunlesi
A lawyer and banker, Ogunlesi formed the private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in 2006 and earned the nickname “the man who bought Gatwick Airport”. Ogunlesi, a quiet billionaire, has still not been able to keep out of the headlines – first by being part of Donald Trump’s ill-fated Strategic and Policy Forum, which disbanded after Twitter sackings in 2017, and second by luring World Bank president Jim Yong Kim to summarily leave his job and join GIP as vice-chairman in February. Insiders say Ogunlesi made Jim an offer he couldn’t refuse.
14 – Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
In 2014 Egypt was suspended from the African Union (AU) due to its “unconstitutional” ousting of President Mohamed Morsi. Five years later the country’s strong-man president is chairing the organisation. His predecessor, Rwandan president Paul Kagame, showed the potential for AU chairmanship in furthering his own and his country’s interests and Sisi is sure to follow his example, though his focus will be on security rather than internal reform. Sisi supports the Continental Free Trade Area but faces a battle with South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa (#16) to get it ratified. Meanwhile at home, constitutional amendments that would allow Sisi to remain president until 2034 were approved in a referendum in April.
15 – Naguib Sawiris
After the Arab Spring the Egyptian telecoms billionaire founded the Free Egyptians Party, promoting a liberal, secular agenda. He got sidelined in politics and now mainly uses TV interviews as a soapbox – recently declaring that Trump was right over China, and that he was ready to invest in Venezuela as soon as President Nicolás Maduro was gone. People listen when Sawiris talks, as his capacity to invest can help a country’s fortunes: he says no to Saudi Arabia, but may put $300m into the Italian economy. On 25 February his investment bank, Beltone Financial, was allowed to resume trading on the Egyptian bourse after being suspended over irregularities in an IPO.
16 – Cyril Ramaphosa
A lot more influential than he was a year ago – when he had just taken on an ailing South Africa and the controversial cabinet of his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, which was mired in corruption – Ramaphosa has doggedly worked at untangling the country’s political and economic problems. He explained the situation when launching the African National Congress’ (ANC) 2019 election manifesto: “After a period of doubt and uncertainty, we have arrived at a moment of hope and renewal”. At 60%, his approval rating is higher than that of the ANC itself. His victory in the May presidential elections has also raised his profile on the global stage. South Africa has significantly more clout than its continental peers on the global diplomatic scene: it is the only African country in the G20 and became a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2019-2020. Ramaphosa will further widen his sphere internationally when he becomes the chair of the African Union in 2020.
— Cyril Ramaphosa 🇿🇦 (@CyrilRamaphosa) June 19, 2019
17 – Iyinoluwa ‘E’ Aboyeji
‘E’ for excellence
Aboyeji gave his first TED-talk when he was still a teenager and changes jobs so often his LinkedIn profile simply reads ‘Entrepreneur in the Public Interest’. Everything he does is designed to maximise the talent and potential of African youth. In two years, Andela grew from nothing to a network of more than 1,000 software engineers; payment platform Flutterwave processes more than $2bn a year. Aboyeji’s new thing, as of November 2018, is Street Capital, connecting global investors and philanthropists with “missionary entrepreneurs” in Africa to empower them and the next generation after that.
I love changing my mind… https://t.co/AqtQLmaVdD
— E (@iaboyeji) June 11, 2019
18 – Wizkid
He and Davido (#7) are Nigeria’s two biggest musical megastars, but unlike his former rival – now friend – who comes from one of Nigeria’s wealthiest business families, Wizkid (alias Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun) was a street-style hustler from Ojuelegba before becoming the original ‘Starboy’. These days he charges around $12m to appear in concert; signs up rising stars to his label, Starboy Entertainment; and, of course, went platinum with his collaboration with Drake.
19 – Denis Mukwege
The renowned surgeon, who has devoted his life to helping the victims of sexual assault in the DRC, spoke out to the United Nations in 2012 and was later a victim of an assassination attempt. Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018, he has used this recognition to hold governments and international organisations to account for not doing enough to stop rape being used as a strategy of war. “All [the Nobel Prize]’s importance will be in its capacity to change the situation of victims in conflict zones.”
Victims not only have the right to quality care but also to truth and justice. … The healing process for survivors of sexual violence isn’t complete until they receive justice#UNSC#GBV@end_svc@endrapeinwar@MukwegeFound@PanziUSA@PanziFoundation@PanziHospital pic.twitter.com/fej2lriOz7
— Denis Mukwege (@DenisMukwege) April 24, 2019
20 – Winnie Byanyima
Rising to a challenge
Amidst a storm of scandals affecting the aid sector, Byanyima – who is married to Ugandan oppositionist Kizza Besigye – kept a firm hand on the tiller from the new headquarters in Nairobi, but 2019 will be another tough year for Oxfam. Byanyima also serves on numerous global advisory bodies, including the World Bank’s Advisory Council on Gender and Development. In 2016, when asked if she would ever stand for president in Uganda, she told the Forum for Women in Democracy: “If one day there is an opportunity and a team that shares my vision and wants me to lead it, I will rise.” With the popular movement around Bobi Wine whipping the population up to fever pitch, Byanyima could offer a real policy platform for the opposition.
“A year ago we asked a commission of independent experts to look at our culture. Today’s report is exactly what we asked for. I’m so sorry to those of you who have been let down by bad behavior and abuses of power.” – @Winnie_Byanyima pic.twitter.com/cBE395s3yM
— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) June 11, 2019