This decade begins with strong reminders – Covid-19, locusts – that the impact of our actions as humans who are typically separated by race, religion, nationality are deeply interconnected.
How do we convert that into empathy and expanding our individual moral universe?
— Edwin Macharia (@edwin_macharia) March 10, 2020
The top 50 African disruptors (46-50)
The Africa Report’s inaugural ranking of the top Africans who are disrupting the status quo in politics, business and the arts: from investigative journalists to world-class athletes and Nobel Peace Prize winners.
46 – Bibi Bakare-Yusuf
Books sprouting like leaves
Getting her books on the Nigerian school syllabus is a goal for Bibi Bakare-Yusuf. The co-founder and director of Cassava Press, her aim is to provide quality, affordable African literature to the largest number of readers. She started the company “with the mission to feed and nourish the African imagination with literature from the African world, starting on the continent and eventually including Africans in Europe and the Americas,” and has recently opened a London office. Cassava Press attempts to challenge stereotypes of what African literature ‘should’ be. Strong recent books include The Hundred Wells of Salaga by Ayesha Harruna Attah, a historical fiction about the intrigues in pre-colonial Ghana, and Elnathan John’s Born on a Tuesday, a coming-of-age story set in the sectarian religious violence of northern Nigeria.
47 – Edwin Macharia
The global consulting firm Dalberg Advisors has hired Macharia as its global managing partner – the first time a Kenyan has taken the role. Rather than sit in headquarters in New York, Macharia has tilted the whole company towards the continent, doing much of his work from Nairobi. A former McKinsey employee who also worked at the Clinton Foundation, Macharia is responsible for innovating across the whole group, according to founder Henrik Skovby. He also set up the Kenya office in 2008. Don’t bet on him staying in consulting forever. He has already run once to be an MP.
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Get your free PDF: Top 500 african companies 2019
Your guide to Africa's leading corporates
Complete the form for your free download of The Africa Report’s 2019 Exclusive Ranking of Africa’s top 500 companies from last year. Get your free PDF by completing the following form.
48 – Tiémoko Assalé
From critic to policy-maker
At its best, journalism can seek to hold the powerful to account. Through his satirical newspaper L’Eléphant Déchaîné – the raging elephant, modelled on France’s Le Canard Enchaîné – publisher Tiémoko Assalé and his journalist allies take on the rich and powerful Ivorian elite. He has reported, for instance, on a vast network of customs fraud and the financial interests of powerful Ivorians in tax havens. As if he doesn’t already have enough enemies, Assalé recently ventured into politics, elected mayor of Tiassalé in 2018.
49 – Célestin Tawamba
The head of the business lobby Groupement Inter-Patronal du Cameroun (GICAM) has been championing the development of Cameroon’s private sector since he was appointed to the leadership role in 2017. He made headlines in January 2020, however, after a letter was leaked in which he called for the sacking of Cameroon’s tax chief. It is rare in Cameroon for major business leaders to speak up at all, let alone criticise government figures; a sign of the times perhaps. Tawamba, who is also the founder of the Cadyst Invest Group, has advocates abandoning taxation based on activity in favour of a tax based on profit.
50 – Ahmed Zahran
The co-founder and chief executive officer of KarmSolar has been instrumental in efforts to move communities in Egypt away from centralised power to independent, more sustainable options. KarmSolar was the first private solar company in the country to obtain licences to generate, sell and distribute electricity to consumers, and to operate a feed-in tariff station selling power to
the national grid. French group EDF announced in late 2019 that it would invest up to $25m in Zahran’s Cairo start-up, making it a leading supplier of solar power in Egypt, which has set a target to generate 42% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2035. Zahran has worked in renewable energy for more than a decade in Tunisia, the UK and Egypt with Shell International and
Tri Ocean Energy. He is also co-founder of Nahdet El Mahrousa, a social-change incubator.