Five heads of state make the list including President Ruto of Kenya; one former head of state makes the list (President Obasanjo) and an aspiring one (Peter Obi) is also included; twenty-seven African nationalities in total are represented; Nigerians dominate the list with 28 entries; followed by South Africa (11); Kenya (9); Ghana (5) and Cameroon (5); there are 62 men and 38 women in the list. Gender parity was achieved in 2018; the creatives lead with 26 entries, followed by entrepreneurs (21); the majority of entries are from Anglophone countries (67).
Africa’s creative talents once again hold center stage in New African magazine’s 100 Most Influential Africans (MIA) listing. The listing celebrates the achievements of the 100 Africans whose lives and work have created far-reaching ripples within the continent and abroad.
The annual listing, which appears in this year’s Christmas (December/January) issue of Africa’s longest-established and the world’s most widely read pan-African periodical in English, is highly anticipated and hotly discussed by readers in Africa, the US, and Europe.
An entry in the MIA listing is considered Africa’s ultimate stamp of approval for achievement. While the list contains some names that have appeared before, the editor, Anver Versi, notes that it “is a tribute to their staying power that year on year, they do not rest on their laurels but continue with fresh impetus to do more for more people in more areas.” There is nonetheless a fresh and exciting crop of fresh achievers making their name in the listings for the first time.
This year’s listing, as previous listings have done, reflects the changing emphasis and priorities on the continent. As normal life begins to reassert itself after the Covid ravages, Africa’s entrepreneurs, innovators, social and environmental activists, scientists, and opinion shapers make a strong comeback into the ranks.
The continent’s fountainhead of creative talent continues to give generously and Africa’s writers, singers, actors, designers, editors, journalists, chefs, and even Tiktokers continue to dominate the listing with 26 entries. Their influence in changing the African narrative is today undisputed.
Some, like the Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o and UK Vogue editor Edward Enninful, have become international stars and celebrities and are reshaping their respective industries and the way Africa is now viewed internationally. Entertainers such as Burna Boy not only dominate the worldwide music scene but are recasting global music to the Afrobeat tempo. Similarly, Africa’s best-selling authors and designers are creating a uniquely African aesthetic that the world cannot have enough of.
There are many others who are working away diligently and ceaselessly but away from the public eye
In the field of sport, the French Algerian football superstar Karim Benzema joins other sporting greats like Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Kenya’s Eluid Kipchoge. Their influence transcends sports and they have become role models for the youth of this young continent.
The influence of most of the African leaders and entrepreneurs who have made the list also extends beyond their normal framework and has a regional and global touch. Afreximbank’s President, Prof. Benedict Oramah, is a case in point as his original approach to finance is making the impossible possible. Many others are involved in cutting-edge technology, including Artificial Intelligence and, of course, Elon Musk is not satisfied with what the Earth has to offer and is aiming for Mars.
In the leaders’ section, among others, Kenya’s new President William Ruto takes his place alongside Rwanda’s Paul Kagame – who year in, year out cannot be left out of the reckoning – and Sierra Leone’s Maada Bio, whose bold decision to allocate over 20% of his country’s budget to education is exemplary.
But these are only some of the people featured in the 100 Most Influential Africans of 2022 listing; it has been described as “like a very large chocolate tray full of tempting individual items, to be picked, explored and savored at leisure.”
In his introduction to the listing, the Editor of New African magazine, Anver Versi, says that in addition to the many easily recognized names, “there are many others who are working away diligently and ceaselessly but away from the public eye. Some are making far-reaching changes at the grassroots, some are beavering away in laboratories or obscure sites – their influence is understated and yet fundamental to our progress.”
The 100 Most Influential Africans of 2022 in numbers
Creatives 26, Entrepreneurs 21, Opinion Shapers 16, Leaders 15, Changemakers 12, Sports 10
62 male, 38 female
Nigeria 28, South Africa 11, Kenya 9, Cameroon 5, Ghana 5, Senegal 4, Zimbabwe 4, Morocco 3, Tunisia 3, Zambia 3, Algeria 2, Côte d’Ivoire 2, Ethiopia 2, Mali 2, Rwanda 2, Sierra Leone 2, Somalia 2, Uganda 2, Botswana 1, Burkina Faso 1, Burundi 1, Congo 1, Egypt 1, Guinea-Bissau 1, Madagascar 1, Mozambique 1, Togo 1
Total, of 27 nationalities were represented.
Anglophone 67, Francophone 18, Arabic 9, Lusophone 2, Amharic 2, Somali 2
The Dec/Jan issue also features profiles and interviews of a number of prominent personalities including the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, Bineta Diop, Special Envoy of the African Union, Nardos Bekele-Thomas, CEO of AUDA-NEPAD and Francesca Chiejina, one of the rising stars of opera.