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The bestselling pan-African magazine

December 2019/January 2020 • N°599




Amina J Mohammed Tewolde Gebremariam Thando Hopa Peter Tabichi Abiy Ahmed Eliud Kipchoge Mahamadou Issoufou Akinwumi Adesina Aya Chebbi Bobi Wine Aliko Dangote Koos Bekker Strive Masiyiwa Benedict Oramah Dina Powell Lupita Nyong’o Trevor Noah Burna Boy Adut Akech Stormzy Israel Adesanya June Sarpong Mark Eddo and many more...

• Euro Zone € 5.00 • UK £4.00 • USA $6.50 • Algeria DA 500 • Canada $6.50 • CFA Zone CFA 2.900 • Egypt E£ 60 • Ethiopia R 150 • Gambia Da 200 • Ghana GH¢ 20.00 • Kenya KShs 350 • Liberia $5 • Mauritius MR 150 • Morocco Dh 40 • Rwanda RWF 3000 • Sierra Leone LE 20.000 • South Africa R40.00 (inc. tax) • Other Southern African Countries R 35.10 (excl. tax) • Switzerland SFr 8.70 • Tanzania TShs 6.500 • Tunisia DT 5 • Uganda USh 15.000 • Zambia ZMW 50

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CONTENTS p. 14 The 100 Most Influential Africans of 2019

Our annual listing of the 100 people who most influence and impact African outcomes across different fields.

Readers’ views

04 Your comments and letters

Kaleidoscope 06 Briefs 11 Quote/unquote


13 What makes a genuine leader?


14 16 22 30 34 38 42 48

Introduction Politics and public service Business Civil society Innovation, education and health Media Arts and culture Sport

Baffour’s beefs 52 Celebrating a true son of Africa

Ivor at large

54 Africa can stand toe-to-toe with the big guys


56 Ethiopia: Abiy’s painful hangover after Nobel glory 58 Can South Africa cash in on feel-good factor?

Letter from london

64 12 December, D-Day for Black UK

Jo’burg diary

66 Home is Where the Music is


68 The unseen pictures of Idi Amin

Back to the future

74 Diaspora billions await harnessing


62 Some progress on SDGs, but still a long way to go – ACBF report

NewAfrican The bestselling pan-African magazine, founded in 1966. DECEMBER 2019/ JANUARY 2020 ISSUE 599

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UNITED KINGDOM IC PUBLICATIONS, 7 Coldbath Square, London EC1R 4LQ. TEL: +44 20 7841 3210 FAX: +44 20 7713 7898 EMAIL: FRANCE IC PUBLICATIONS 609 BAT A 77 RUE BAYEN 75017 Paris TEL: +33 1 44 30 81 00 EMAIL: FOUNDER Afif Ben Yedder GROUP PUBLISHER Omar Ben Yedder EDITOR Anver Versi EDITOR-AT-LARGE Baffour Ankomah REPORTER Thomas Collins ASSOCIATE EDITORS Jon Haynes, Hichem Ben Yaiche, Ridha Kefi, Kalundi Serumaga, Onyekachi Wambu, Allen Choruma SENIOR CORRESPONDENTS Wanjohi Kabukuru, Peter Ezeh, Clayton Goodwin, Epajjar Ojulu, Mushtaq Parker, Rafiq Raji, Juliet Highet, Desmond Davies, James Jeffries, Fred Khumalo CORRESPONDENTS Femi Akomolafe, Erik Kabendera, Michael Nkwar, Beverly Andrews, David Wood


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Leadership deficit I consider Anver Versi’s editorials my special intellectual monthly treat and always look forward to reading them. The October piece, on the current global leadership deficit, was just brilliant – and so very timely. I quote: “There is a growing acceptance that over the last five or so years, there has been a calamitous drop in the quality of world leaders. Donald Trump is of course the king of the mediocrities, more reminiscent of the traditional court jester pretending to be the monarch for laughs than the real thing itself… Here is another: “This of course brings us to the classic question of what makes a genuine leader – is it the position of power, for example in occupying the President’s chair, or does it lie in some intrinsic quality? “We tend to call this intrinsic quality charisma – that which draws people to commit their loyalty, even unto death. It is leadership willingly bestowed by the led, not coerced by threats and blows.” Priceless. Thank you, Versi.

Anne Cummins, Atlanta, US

Your October editorial, What makes a genuine leader? has raised some deep, disturbing and profound thoughts. This passage in particular has been most thought-provoking: “Everywhere, it seems, people are restive...These are all signs of an unhappy, confused and frightened world. These same signs appeared before the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party in Europe and led to the worst history in terms of casualties the world has ever known…” I sincerely hope you will revisit this key topic and perhaps devote a lot more space to its discussion. Alex Iwobi, Geneva, Switzerland

Harsh realities Your cover story, Squaring up to inequality (October 2019) is an impressive exposure of the harsh realities that people in Africa face. However, some of the articles

within it came to the incorrect conclusion that the main driving force behind violent protests and severe political outbursts is income inequality between the rich and the poor. All are vulnerable. Rivalries do exist between entities and in any formation, small, medium or large, and managements and staff do suffer in silence without agitating their grievances in any physical form during prolonged negative performance. In today’s global space, there is severe competition between the superpowers seeking geopolitical dominance, not only in Africa but other regions, such as Asia, the Middle East, etc. The escalating trade tensions between global superpowers are a direct threat to the free market forces of globalisation. As market accesses are threatened by mean superpower agendas in the form of tariffs, the burden falls on manufacturing earnings and drops in profits are forecast. Ultimately, it destroys the dreams of citizens, of seeing new job opportunities created. The recent oil sanctions imposed by the US on Iran will trigger oil prices to inflate beyond the grasp of global manufacturing firms, leading to inflation and recession. That said, Africa, with abundant mineral resources and fertile agricultural land, is capable of being self-reliant without feeling the effects of global economic meltdown. The resources can independently lift its people out of poverty and misery. But for that to happen, conflicts and unending civil wars should cease and resolution mechanisms take priority for development and economic growth. Africa should devise flexible incentives to attract local and foreign investments and developed home-grown policies suitable for its citizens rather than accepting prescriptions from the West with no beneficial gains – as your cover story illustrates. Kokil K. Shah Mombasa, Kenya

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EVE IRVINE AND STUART NORVAL A full review of the international news MONDAY TO FRIDAY FROM 4 AM TO 8 AM GMT

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Nabongo visits all countries in the world The Ugandan Jessica Nabongo has become the first Black woman to visit all of the world’s 195 countries. Nabongo, born in Detroit after her parents emigrated to the US, started travelling at the age of six. Now 34, Nabongo made history when she touched down in Seychelles, the last country on the list, with over 50 friends and family members. The travel entrepreneur uses her Instagram account to share her experiences

and tip her followers, who have a desire to venture out of their comfort zones. ‘‘So much to say but for now I will just say thank you to this entire community for all of your support. This was our journey and thanks to all of you who came along for the ride!” Nabongo only decided on the goal of visiting all the countries in the world in 2017. At the time, she had travelled to 60 countries. She has consequently visited 135 countries in just two and a half years.

Animated movie Malika: Warrior Queen makes it to the big screen Malika: Warrior Queen, one of Nigeria’s first animated movies, made its big-screen debut to critical acclaim at the 8th edition of the Lagos Comic Convention. Set in 15th-century West Africa, the 15-minute movie follows the exploits of queen and military commander Malika, who struggles to keep the peace in her everexpanding empire. Ruling over the fictional Azzaz kingdom, having inherited the crown

from her father, Malika expands the empire into one of the largest in West Africa. West Africa was home to some of Africa’s largest precolonial kingdoms including the Songhai, Kanem-Bornu, Wolof, Dahomey and Ashanti.  Top Nollywood stars like Femi Branch, Adesua EtomiWellington and Blossom Chukwujekwu, amongst others, voiced the movie. The story began as a comic book in 2016 and writer and producer Roye Okupe was inspired to adapt the book to the screen after seeing its growing popularity.   Okupe is hoping the film can inspire Nollywood, the world’s second-largest film industry, to start making animated movies, which he sees as a form with a major international future.

VW pilots electric cars in Rwanda Volkswagen is releasing a batch of electric Golf models onto the streets of Kigali, to be used with its local ride-hailing service called Move.  The tech-savvy city is surprisingly free of ride-hailing apps like Uber, Lfyt, Little and Swvl, which have swept across the continent providing safe and reliable rides.  The main form of transport is the East African boda-boda or motorcycle taxi, which can be solicited to drive across Rwanda’s relatively small

capital city for less than one dollar. Move, VW’s foray into the ride-hailing sector, provides Rwandan users with the newest model Volkswagen.  This latest venture will see electric cars added to that list. The ride-hailing service complements VW’s expansion in the region, which saw a carassembly plant established in Kigali’s special economic zone last year.  “We’ve been investing more than $30bn into new electric vehicles and platforms

Baba, please stay at home Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (below) has previously been criticised for spending one year and thirty-nine days outside the country during the first three years of his first term in office. During that time, Buhari spent a number of months in London receiving private medical treatment.  Building on the discontent, the septuagenarian

recently joined his African counterparts in Sochi for the Russia-Africa summit but had barely spent two days there on his return before travelling to Saudi Arabia and then the UK. This amounts to a total of 20 days away from his post.  In an editorial entitled Buhari, stay at your post, the local Punch news portal said: “It (the travels) provocatively

and the entire world is moving in that direction,” VW’s Africa boss Thomas Schaefer told Reuters. “The plan for Africa is that ultimately, we replace the whole fleet into electric.” German power equipment firm Siemens will build 15 charging stations in Kigali. The stations can charge up to 80 percent of a car’s battery within an hour, although it takes around 11 hours to charge a car at home, said Andile Dlamini, the group’s communications officer.

gives the impression of an uncaring president. Without opening up the economy and ensuring sound rule of law at home, foreign travel to attract investment is a complete waste of public funds.” The country’s President, who won a second term in February, has earned the moniker ‘Baba go slow’ for his inaction at the highest levels of government. Running Nigeria from a base in the capital Abuja, he purportedly seldom visits the country’s beating heart and economic capital, Lagos. 

Burundi’s First Lady supports women in song Burundi’s First Lady, Denise Nkurunziza. has released a song urging men in her country to desist from abusing women when couples fail to get pregnant. The song, titled Umukenyezi Arengeye Kuyyara Gusa (A woman is more than just for giving birth) was shared on social media, featuring Nkurunziza counselling a man who is seen verbally and physically abusing his wife.  “You are of no use in this house. Your belly is always full of beans, while other women’s bellies are full of babies,” the man says. 49-year-old Denise, who has been married to President Pierre Nkurunziza since 1994, called on husbands to support their wives. “Women are not created just to be called mothers. They are capable of much more,” the First Lady says in the song’s chorus. She also emphasised that infertility affects both men and women, and can only be confirmed by medical practitioners. Denise, who frequently preaches together with her husband, is an ordained pastor and has been featured on several religious tracks.


Mara Phones, part of Mara Group, the pan-African conglomerate, has opened a first factory in Rwanda as the company seeks to build a brand of African-made smartphones. Located in Kigali’s special economic zone, the factory will produce high-tech phones for the local and regional market. With two models on sale for $130 and $190, the Android phones are set to compete with those of Asian manufacturers like Tecno and Samsung, which currently dominate Africa’s markets. Speaking at the launch, the founder and CEO of Mara Group, Ashish Thakkar said: “We realised a few years ago that to create positive social impact on our continent and in emerging markets, we need

to have high-quality and affordable smartphones. That’s when we came up with Mara Phones.” Smartphone penetration in Rwanda currently stands at around 15%, with the most basic Tecno and Samsung models sold at $40 and $70 respectively. The bulk of the market is characterised by feature phones which use USSD technology to access digital services; something which is a general trend across the continent. At a considerably higher price, critics are sceptical that Mara phones will make a dent in the local market. Yet, thanks to partnerships with local banks and telecommunications firms, the Mara Group have created

a finance model which allows users to pay for their phones over a period of two years. At the opening ceremony, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame commended the drive towards affordable smartphones and underlined the need to boost the adoption of high-tech products in his country. “The smartphone is no longer a luxury item, it is rapidly becoming a requirement of everyday life,” he said. “That trend is bound to increase in the years to come as more and more services migrate to digital platforms. We want to enable many more Rwandans to use smartphones. The cost and quality is very important and the introduction of Mara

Africa’s first smartphone factory opens in Rwanda

Phones will put smartphone ownership within reach of more Rwandans.” Thakkar said his new factory is historic due to its being the first smartphone manufacturing plant on the continent. “In Africa, we don’t manufacture anything,” said Thakkar. “We assemble in a few countries, but we don’t manufacture anything. We are the consumers but not the producers. When we first told people about Mara Phones they told us we were crazy and it wasn’t possible. Our true belief in Africa, particularly Rwanda, is a dream come true. This is a historic moment which will help shift the narrative for Rwanda, Africa and the rest of the world.”

Paul Kagame at the October launch of the Mara Phone factory in Kigali















And free to air on satellites: ARABSAT BADR-4, ASTRA 1, EUTELSAT HB 13B, EUTELSAT HB 13D

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A monthly programme on BBC World News Each month on Talking Business Africa in association with Zenith Bank, Lerato Mbele-Roberts visits different parts of the continent and meets African business leaders. From the leaders of large multinational companies through to entrepreneurs just starting out, Talking Business Africa finds out how they got there, what motivates them and the challenges they face. Upcoming shows run across the weekends of 6 July, 3 August and 7 September. Plus, look out for extracts from the show broadcast on BBC World News throughout the day every Friday.

In association with

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‘Watching François (Pienaar, captain of South Africa’s World Cup winning team in 2005) lift the trophy had instilled a dream in me. I wanted to do the same one day,’


‘An unequal, fractured world requires multilateralism to address its gaps,’ FILIPE NYUSI, MOZAMBIQUE’S RE-ELECTED PRESIDENT


‘For us it was good in the sense that Russia was never a colonial power, but a power that supported the struggle on the continent. We spent quite a bit of time reflecting on that. Now this is like the second wave for Russia,’ CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT

‘I have a dream that Africa should have one bloc – north to south – we could trade freely, people can move freely and that makes business sense,’


‘I am Nuba. I am black. I am African. Africanness is my identity. It is entrenched in my appearance, engraved in my lips and manifested by my skin,’ YUSIF KUWA MEKKI, SUDANESE REVOLUTIONARY, REBEL COMMANDER AND POLITICIAN

‘My biggest strength is that I do not fear strength in others, I celebrate it,’ SOUTH AFRICAN FORMER CEO OF SHANDUKA GROUP

‘Democracy is unthinkable without freedom. Freedom is not a gift doled out to people by a government. Rather a gift of nature to everyone that emanates from our human dignity,’ ABIY AHMED, ETHIOPIA’S PRIME MINISTER

‘Any African that has a dream or hope for his people or himself is an African giant,’ BURNA BOY, NIGERIAN ARTIST

‘To tell the truth is to become beautiful, to begin to love yourself, value yourself. And that’s political, in its profound way,’ JUNE JORDAN, JAMAICANAMERICAN POET AND ACTIVIST

‘Everywhere there is sugar, there are ants. Get rid of the sugar, and you won’t have any ants,’ SOLA DAVID-BORHA, NIGERIAN CEO OF AFRICA REGIONS AT THE STANDARD BANK GROUP

‘Everyone wants me to go into politics, but there won’t be 10 million Weahs,’ SAMUEL ETO’O, CAMEROONIAN FOOTBALL STAR

december 2019/january 2020 New African 11




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From the Editor

Anver Versi

Africa’s Holy Grail in sight


n November, three major telecoms providers in China launched the country’s first 5G network in cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and said they would bring 5G to more than 50 cities by the end of the year. Reportedly, there are already 10m pre-registrations for 5G and it is estimated that China will have 460m 5G connections by 2025. 5G is the fifth generation of cellular network and improves on the current global standard, 4G. 5G is expected to be at least 10 times faster than 4G and have vastly greater capacity. But this is just the beginning. 5G has the capacity to completely revolutionise virtually everything – from our workplaces to our daily lives. 5G will enable myriad devices to talk to each other; it will usher in the ‘internet of things’ – a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. It will enable smart cities where self-drive vehicles will talk to each other and traffic management systems, where robots in hospitals will interact with doctors, nurses, patients and ambulances, where our fridges will order the items that are running out directly with supermarkets and where devices will know when to wake us up, to fire up the coffee-making machines, make our appointments and so on. The digital economy, we are told, which will accelerate with the application of 5G, will be bigger in size, scope and impact than the industrial revolution. It will change everything as it processes vast amounts of data at extraordinary speed and sophistication to change the very nature of work, production, transport, distribution, healthcare and so on. A few years ago, this vision would have belonged to science fiction. Today, a good deal is already happening and a great deal more is certainly on the way. 5G will the great enabler. It will be the basis on which industry, agriculture, services and all other production will be based. It will form the heart of defence systems.

Playing for huge stakes

But what does all this have to do with Africa? Plenty; in fact everything. Just consider the impact of the mobile phone on Africa. 5G will have, some say, 100 times more capacity and it will be most effective in places where there is no industrial legacy to clutter things up. In short, Africa. The lack of an industrial legacy, which has so far consigned Africa to poverty, can be its very salvation. 5G, many are convinced, is the Holy Grail the continent has been waiting for. It will allow it to leapfrog into the heart of the 21st century. Just give us the technology! But now there is a catch. As part of its trade war with China, the US has come down like a ton of bricks on Huawei, the world’s largest supplier of telecoms equipment as well as affordable smart phones. Huawei has taken a decisive lead over US innovators in 5G equipment which it is rolling out across the world – except in the US and a few other countries the US has leant on to ban it. The US has put Huawei on its ‘entity list’ which bans the company from acquiring technology from US firms without government approval and arrested Meng Wanzhou, the company’s chief financial officer and daughter of Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei. Charges that Huawei technology will allow China a spy ‘backdoor’ and compromise security have fooled no one. The clash is political, not technical. The US, commentators say, believes China has become too big too quickly and must be slowed down. Given what is at stake, is it any wonder that the US is doing all it can to trip up Huawei’s – and in the process, China’s – headlong dash for technological superiority? Whoever controls 5G will harvest untold billions – and economic power is the harbinger of military power. Ren Zhengfei says the US cannot stop Huawei “because we are advanced and the world needs us”. Africa most certainly needs 5G and the sooner, the better, but the US is determined to stop the Chinese giant in its tracks. Which way will our governments lean when it comes to making a choice? NA

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100 MOST INFLUENTIAL AFRICANS As has become customary for several years now, New African publishes its annual listing of the 100 Most Influential Africans (MIA) of 2019, as thoughts turn to the end of the year and preparations for a brand new one to come. The MIA listing also provides a rapid review of some of the major events and developments across the continent through bite-sized highlights of achievements of individuals in various countries and in virtually all sectors of life. As in previous listings, and in keeping with the UN’s International Year for People of African Descent, we make no distinction between Africans living and working in the continent and those in the diaspora. Both have germinated from the African seed. How have Africans fared in 2019 compared to previous years and in what ways have they been most influential? There is no easy answer to this as there are so many variables to consider and the world outside Africa itself has been undergoing some extraordinary changes. That said, perhaps we will look back to this year as one of great vintage. Politically, the people have asserted their rights and in Sudan and Algeria, forced regime changes – putting leaders on notice that they remain the masters of their fates. By and large, some political leaders, as well as those running continental institutions, put the interests of their people ahead of their own ambitions. It did not come as a surprise that Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. We believe our listing reflects this aspect of the continent’s politics. We also of course recognise the enormous but often unsung contribution of those indefatigable souls who have dedicated their lives to improving the

lot of the ill, the marginalised, the victimised and the vulnerable. Africa’s economy has had something of a rollercoaster ride – with peaks of performance countered by troughs of regression – especially in the battle against poverty. But again we find champions at both ends represented in our listing. But an increasing number of what are termed ‘disrupters’ – those that eschew traditional approaches to business and set off on original paths – are appearing in our listings. This is wonderful news as these are the pioneers who are providing new solutions for often age-old problems. In the world of arts, culture and sport – the essential soft power that defines nations – Africa has been going from strength to strength. This is one arena where Africa and the world compete – if that is the right word – on a level playing field. The yardstick for sporting prowess, whether that is in breaking athletic records, winning world trophies or displaying exceptional skills, is universal. So is artistic achievement in writing, acting, music, fashion. Talent – not entrenched economic, military or political power – is the determinant for success. And as our listing clearly shows, Africa is full of talent. What is more, this talent can and does travel – whether it takes the form of acting in huge movie blockbusters, or fronting TV shows, or winning literary awards – African talent is rocking the world. Written and edited by reGina Jane Jere and Anver Versi. With Omar Ben Yedder, David Thomas, Tom Collins, Shoshana Kedem and Naomi Nwauzu

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Most Influential Africans

Politics & Public Service RWANDA

President Paul Kagame e enc


Akinwumi Adesina ireless eal a er

‘Blooming in agriculture and now booming in banking’ aptly describes the career curve that defines the bo tie-loving Akinwumi Adesina, the former Nigerian agriculture minister who is now president of the African Development Bank (AfDB). Adesina is on a mission to prove that Africa is bankable. He has created a dealmaking platform through the Africa Investment Forum but his crowning achievement this year was the record capital increase for the AfDB. The bank continues to be the standard bearer, especially when it comes to international investors benchmarking African risk.

ar setter

Even if by his standards 2019 has been a relatively quiet year, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame continues to make the continent’s most-influential lists. Perhaps this is because of his sheer dynamism and the impact his decisions have on other countries. On a continent where the default speed is ‘slow, going to slower’, Kagame is express – whether trying to sort out the ’s finances, or physically remove border barriers or set up industrial zones, Kagame wants it all done yesterday. In the process, he leaves a lot of bruised egos in his wake. After marking 25 years since the horrific genocide in his country ith solemn events and fresh pledges for it never to happen again, Kagame has devoted his energies to making sure the 2020 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali will be one to ‘savour and remember’. But he seems to collect detractors as quickly as he does admirers, and whatever Kagame does, or does not do, causes widespread ripples all around; as such, he remains one of the most influential people in frica.

“In Africa today, we recognise that trade and investment, and not aid, are pillars of development.”


Oulimata Sarr e connector

Oulimata Sarr is regional director for UN Women, covering West and Central Africa, where she is a continuous source of energy and inspiration. But it is her indefatigable work creating networks, driving and supporting different initiatives, to not only shape the African agenda but transform African outcomes, that make her stand out. She is a truly dedicated servant of the African continent who has always put the interests of Africa before her own. Reflecting her earlier financial background, Sarr is also currently the Jury President of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards business plan competition for sub-Saharan Africa.

16 new african december

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President Nana Akufo-Addo

Africa e on Ai In May this year, the UN Secretary General re-appointed Akufo-Addo as the co-chair of the Sustainable Development Goals Advocate Group, which comprises 17 influential public figures, chosen to commit their time to raising awareness and pushing for faster action on the SDGs. On the home front, the elephant, so the saying goes, continues his merry way to market despite the howling of a thousand dogs. So it seems with the Ghanaian leader; critics keep sniping away at him but he rolls on to ensure that Ghana’s record for stability and aims for growth are not tarnished. This year has seen work continue on the construction of the 400MW Bridge Power Project, the world’s largest liquefied petroleum gas-fired power plant, which once complete, is expected to solve most of the country’s energy issues. Meanwhile, the country’s imaginative ‘Year of Return’ campaign, marking 400 years since the first slaves were shipped from its shores, has brought a projected 500,000 visitors, boosting the tourism industry.


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President Mahamadou Issoufou

‘Mr AfCFTA’ champion of African trade integration In the African economic integration discourse, 2019 was the year of President Mahamadou Issoufou, who is fondly referred to as ‘Mr AfCFTA’. While holding the highest o ce in Niger, President Issoufou has also spent most of the last three years leading the team of experts and technocrats who negotiated and developed the modalities and roadmap of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The operational phase of the much-heralded continental pro ect as aptly launched in Niamey, the capital of Niger, in uly this year, in recognition of Issoufou’s efforts to champion and push for the formation of one of the largest free trade areas in the world. Additionally, in terms of recent regional influence, perhaps no other African leader has had as much impact as President Issoufou, who has also been an active force in the collective endeavour to battle the rising threat of terrorism in the Sahel, through the five-nation Sahel initiative, which comprises Burkina Faso, had, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Issoufou is also the current chairman of the Economic Community of West frican States S . This anuary, under his leadership, Niger ill oin the N Security ouncil as a non-permanent member and there is no doubt he will use the platform to champion Africa’s cause.

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“Africa must unite in order to be strong in the international system…the AfCFTA is the foundation. Against this background, our e or o e a li the AfCFTA will produce results if we remain united, speak with one voice and consolidate our integration.”

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Most Influential Africans

Politics & Public Service NIGERIA

Amina J. Mohammed

el in to uil an e ual orl for all



Aya Chebbi

Abba Kyari

e A out en o s a in t in s u Aya Chebbi is the African Union’s first-ever youth envoy. The creation of this position comes at a time when the voices of African youth demanding change and inclusion in Africa’s political and economic landscape have become hard to ignore. She is vocal in seeking “intergenerational co-leadership”, persistently calling for youth to colead. Before taking on her current role, Chebbi was already a popular youth activist, feminist and blogger. She caught the world’s attention for her uncompromising, peaceful activism during the Tunisian revolution, which changed the political discourse of that country. She is also the founder of the Afrika Youth Movement (AYM), one of Africa’s largest Pan-African movements, taking the agenda of African youth from the margins of society to the centre of regional and international discourse. In addition, Aya is founder of several other platforms including the Youth Programme of Holistic Empowerment Mentoring (YPHEM), which coaches youths to be positive change agents. She recently launched the Afresist project, a youth leadership programme and multimedia platform documenting youth work in Africa.

e colossus

As chief of staff to the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, he is the man with the keys to the Presidency. And as the gatekeeper, he can let anyone in and lock anyone out, making him one of the most powerful figures in the country. A former banker, yari is reputed to have made many senior government appointments. This year he was appointed to the board of the NNP , the national oil company, and the government’s main source of foreign exchange.

As the United Nations deputy secretary-general, Amina Mohammed remains one of the most respected female figures in the world today. Her determination to advance poverty eradication, gender equality and inclusive development in a peaceful world remains resolute. This year she has remained a key figure in pushing for the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals, following on from the MDGs, where her influence was instrumental and is still widely acknowledged. Despite her global responsibilities her heart remains in Africa, speaking up for and supporting African causes. She remains our most important ambassador and influencer amongst global leaders. Interestingly, despite her distinguished career, she once said that, in the field of politics, she is appointable but not electable.


Josefa Sacko A o an of


Commissioners at the African Union don’t always get the credit they deserve. Angola-born Josefa Sacko has one of the most important portfolios, which is coordinating Africa’s agriculture transformation. She has added credence to this division within the AU, holding African governments to account in terms of their commitments to agriculture. But it is on the international stage that her negotiation skills have earned her praise, for defending the interests of African farmers and African companies operating in this sector, often having to fend off strong foreign lobby and interest groups. Agriculture globally is as much about politics as it is about productivity and Sacko has often been the flagbearer singlehandedly fighting Africa’s cause.

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Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

The reformer, Nobel Peace aureate re tin on an fronts Abiy Ahmed, it is said, blew in like a whirlwind and swept away the accumulated debris of an ossified political system hen he was elected Prime Minister in 2018. Abiymania has since followed, both among his supporters at home, and in international circles. At a seemingly breakneck speed, he has pushed through many reforms, including lifting the country’s state of emergency, freeing thousands of political prisoners, legalising previously outlawed opposition groups, relaxing media censorship, forming a 50/50 gender-balanced cabinet – including the appointment of the country’s first-ever female President – and laid to rest the longfestering border conflict ith neighbouring Eritrea. e has also become a ey figure in resolving potentially explosive issues in the Horn of Africa, which has become Africa’s latest flashpoint, involving not only the superpowers but also, rival forces from the Middle East. This year, the meteoric rise of the thiopian Prime Minister as a rmed further hen, after ust 18 months in o ce, he was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, confounding some, including his critics and political opponents, who argue that the coveted accolade is premature. In the citation, the Nobel committee itself noted: “Many challenges remain unresolved. Ethnic strife continues to escalate, and we have seen troubling examples of this in recent weeks and months. No doubt some people will think this year’s prize is being awarded too early.” Indeed, within weeks of the award, violence was sweeping the country and Abiy as fire-fighting on all fronts. Some think Abiy moved too fast with reforms but whatever happens, he has changed Ethiopia forever – and hopefully for the better. Only history will be the judge of that.

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“Even if there are disagreements ari in ro our di erence , e ould ide i u ice ra er an in u ice and correc our oral len e u ice ould e our ain principle lo e and re pec or all u an ein ou o e our oral co pa ”, iy


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Most Influential Africans

Politics & Public Service NAMIBIA

Bience Gawanas

e oice of Africa at t e


Mabingue Ngom

nrelentin out an o en s ri ts c a

Mabingue Ngom is the regional director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) for West and Central Africa, tasked with overseeing and coordinating an amalgam of 23 countries of diverse linguistic, political and social complexities. But Ngom is also one of the most notable and ardent advocates of leveraging the youth demographic dividend, as well as a champion of women’s rights and planned healthy families, and is arguably operating in a region where the Fund’s services are most needed. By pushing for a change of tack – including by changing behaviours through careful cultural sensitisation and bringing religious and other leaders on board – Ngom is fulfilling the Fund’s mandate and has unlocked one of the biggest gridlocks preventing breakthrough in the promotion of women’s rights, youth development and healthy planned families, or as they say in the Sahel, “spaced families”. He has been indefatigable in keeping these issues at the top of the agenda, both in the region and internationally, crafting his work in the most rural and oft-neglected communities. In 2019, his advocacy and efforts of over 10 years bore fruit.

“If we bring about the demographic dividend by improving opportunities for young people, allowing mothers to plan their pregnancies and making childbirth safe for mother and child, the overall e ec ill a e li e e er or the entire population,” Mabingue Ngom

Bience Gawanas is the UN undersecretary-general and special adviser on Africa, and as head of the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA), oversees the UN’s only office with a specific Africa mandate. As such, she carries the weight of Africa on her shoulders at one of the world’s leading institutions; and indeed, she is the voice of Africa within the UN – a voice that renders influence at the biggest seat of power in world affairs, and a must-heed voice. As head of OSAA, it is her duty to promote and build synergies across the UN system in support of Africa’s priorities, and promote African views and perspectives that foster an understanding of Africa’s experiences on peace and economic development. A staunch social justice and gender-sensitive development policy campaigner, in her role, she also continues to champion and focus on the fight against social injustice, discrimination and gender inequality. “The current political and economic global order has brought challenges to multilateralism and is leading to increasing inequality between countries. How are we going to deal with the new challenge?”


Moulay Hafid Elalamy A stal art of entre reneuris

The founder and head of Saham Group, whose subsidiary CNIA Saada is the largest insurance company in Morocco, Moulay Hafid Elelamy has built a personal fortune estimated at $620 million, becoming the 40th richest man in Africa. A stalwart of the Moroccan business scene, he has been Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and Digital Economy since 2013, masterminding Africa’s biggest industrial success that is Morocco. Not one to lack confidence, the outspoken minister is at the heart of negotiations with foreign investors in the country. He has also been vocal about the brain drain that has seen European companies poach Moroccan engineers and IT talent from the country. His work includes launching social programmes in support of entrepreneurship, including the MHE Young Entrepreneurs Competition, which provides financial support and guidance to the winners.

Bience Gawanas

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Bobi Wine

Political tour de force First known for his politicised lyrics as a popular Ugandan musician, Bobi Wine, in his now banned signature red beret, has become the country’s unwavering symbol of political resistance. Come the 2021 general elections, the artist, born Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, and currently an independent Member of Parliament, will pose a serious threat to President Yoweri Museveni’s long-term rule, having announced his intention to stand against the 76-year-old. In 2019, he has continued to galvanise his supporters, particularly the youth, with calls for resolute and fearless resilience, as they fight against Museveni’s political might. “Uganda isn’t a kingdom, it’s a republic but our President has been changing faces all this time – the President came to power when I was just 4 years old,” Bobi Wine


Winnie Byanyima

Fighting for social justice In August this year, Winnie Byanyima was appointed Executive Director, UNAIDS. She had, hitherto, served as Executive Director of Oxfam International – a post she held since 2013. Prior to that, she served for seven years as the Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). With such a roster of high-profile positions, Winnie is one of the most sought-after and influential frican omen of her generation, and a ey figure in the social and humanitarian development world. A mechanical engineer by profession, Winnie, who is married to one of Uganda’s most long-term opponents to President Museveni - Kizza Besigye - has herself also been a politician of standing, having served as a member of parliament in Uganda for over 10 years and helped draft the country’s 1995 constitution. In addition, she is renowned in the country for being a champion of marginalised communities, especially women. Commentators expect much from her in her new role at UNAIDS.

“Without gender equality, the African continent will not ulfill i re ar a le po en ial for its people,” Winnie Byanyima

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Most Influential Africans

Business & Finance NIGERIA

Sandie Okoro

irst lac o an eneral counsel at orl an EGYPT

Ahmed El-Sewedy rince of o er

In 200 , Ahmed El-Sewedy took over the family business, which had begun in 1938 as a humble trader of electrical equipment. It’s now one of Egypt’s largest multinationals – working in almost countries and exporting to over 0. His group was instrumental in Egypt’s plan, back in 201 , to increase power generation by more than 0%, a feat they have achieved by building a number of power plants in record time. El-Sewedy is quickly expanding its services, with many African governments courting him to replicate what he has achieved back home.


Tewolde Gebremariam calin ne



Tewolde Gebremariam and his team can seemingly do no wrong. While almost every other African airline is drowning in debt, Ethiopian’s operating revenue jumped 17% in the latest financial year. The airline, Africa’s biggest, flew 12.1m passengers during the period, which is 14% more than during the same period the year before. Despite financial success, it has been a testing year for Gebremariam following the fatal crash of the Boeing 737-Max earlier this year. Gebremariam has remained resolute in the face of initial criticism from Boeing, and he has since been vindicated. He has shown all the characteristics of a true leader during these difficult times and is the person the African airline industry looks to for direction.

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Sandie oro is the first blac oman and British national to hold the role of group general counsel at the orld Ban , here she also holds the ran of senior vice president. Okoro is the principal advisor and spo esperson on all legal matters at the multilateral institution a truly historic role. Prior to her move to the ban in 2016, oro had an e tensive financial sector career as general counsel for SB lobal sset Management, deputy general counsel of SB etail Ban ing and ealth Management, and global general counsel at Barings. et oro is far from the caricature of a stuff y corporate la yer, and is a vocal defender and champion of omen’s empo erment and gender e uality, proactively engaging in campaigns around gender-based and domestic violence, female genital mutilation, se ual harassment, child marriage, and omen’s access to ustice.


Ade Ayeyemi

an in on tec

As Group CEO of Ecobank, since 2015, Ade Ayeyemi has transformed the pan-African bank with his ‘Roadmap to Leadership’ strategy, which stabilised the bank’s foundations and is now leveraging the potential of its affiliates in 33 countries to deliver sustainable long-term growth. The strong and visionary focus of Nigerian-born Ayeyemi has harnessed technology to deliver borderless digital banking products and services throughout Ecobank’s footprint at a low costto-serve. Ecobank’s commitment to continuously delivering innovative digital solutions is empowering the bank’s rapidly growing number of retail, commercial and corporate customers. His target: 100m customers by 2020. Following a challenging start when he took over in 2015, he has managed in the last two years to restore the Bank’s financial strength. This year Arise, a European investment consortium, came in as a major shareholder.


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Benedict Oramah

Trade warrior

Since becoming President of the Africa Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) in 2015, Professor Benedict Oramah has played a leading role in driving Africa’s economic integration by overseeing the delivery of new game-changing programmes and facilities to finance, promote and expand intra- and extraAfrican trade and develop Africa’s sectors, infrastructure, diversification, trade finance and economies. In uly this year, he announced that Afreximbank will allocate US$1 billion as an adjustment facility to help countries adapt to any negative impact that may result during the implementation phase of the f T . In the same month, in collaboration with the African Union, he facilitated the launch of the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) – the first continent- ide payment system focused on addressing the settlement challenges and market imbalances that have hampered intra- frican trade. Oramah has also been the driving force in the creation and delivery of the Intra-African Trade Fair, which resulted in $32 billion of trade and investment deals being concluded at its 2018 event in Cairo, and is targeting $40 billion at igali in 2020. This year, under his leadership, Afreximbank has also been a driving force in developing emerging partnerships to increase African trade and investment links with the BRIC economies, including Russia, where the bank held its 2019 Annual General Meetings.


Ilham Kadri

The alchemist In March this year, Ilham Kadri became CEO of the Belgian chemicals group, Solvay. The group, at the time of writing, had a market cap of $12bn (similar to MTN, which ranked 12th in African Business’ ‘Top Companies Ranking’) and serves a number of industries from food and agriculture to healthcare and oil & gas. With a PhD in physical chemistry, Kadri describes education as her ‘third exit’, quoting a Moroccan saying: girls have two exits in their lives: one to their husband’s home and one to the grave. Kadri was raised by a grandmother who urged her to find a third exit.

“No people have achieved meaningful development when their economic progress depends on the renewed focus on industrial and valuechain development across the continent, to boost trade and investment, it is imperative that we address economic costs...,” Benedict Oramah

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Most Influential Africans

Business & Finance NIGERIA

Abdul Samad Rabiu

i eria s uiet aron


Babatunde Soyoye

o erin a


As the co-founder of Africa’s largest private equity firm, Helios, Soyoye has pioneered Africa’s investment landscape with his bold and innovative approach. Born in Nigeria, he studied in ondon before leading corporate strategy at British Telecom and Singapore Telecom. Nigeria’s growth story in 200 lured him back, founding Helios with Tope awani with the aim of raising the capital to build the country’s first telecoms towers. Helios Towers successfully listed on the ondon Stock Exchange this year. Other notable investments include a stake in Interswitch (Africa’s first unicorn) and Vivo Energy, which listed last year.

Less known than Nigeria’s other major industrialist, Aliko Dangote, Abdul Samad Rabiu heads the BUA Group, today a multi-sector conglomerate whose rapid growth he has masterminded. A major investor, a major employer and a true player driving the country’s industrial policy, investing across agriculture, industry, mining and real estate. In the north of the country, where he’s from, he is a positive counterweight to the dominant position Dangote Cement enjoys elsewhere in Nigeria. His group today accounts for some 15% of the Nigerian cement market and he is a chief proponent of import substitution, which he is tackling by investing in growing sugar and rice.


Aliko Dangote e unsto

a le

Never a man to settle down or proclaim mission accomplished’, Africa’s richest businessman has set his sights on further domination in the years ahead. In the cement market where he made his fortune, Dangote plans to expand capacity on the continent by 29%. Elsewhere, Dangote Flour Mills of Nigeria is to be sold off to a subsidiary of Singapore agricultural traders Olam in a deal worth around 1m. Despite setbacks, next year will see the completion of the continent’s biggest oil refinery. But that’s not enough: in November he announced a 2bn fertiliser plant he plans to build in Togo.



NJ Ayuk

Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli


ro er

Cameroon-born lawyer NJ Ayuk, executive chairman of the African Energy Chamber and CEO of the Centurion Law Group, continues to vocally offer his remedies for the continent’s ‘resource curse’. In his new book, Billions At Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals, Ayuk offers a comprehensive road map for Africa to do a better job at using its vast natural resources to fuel economic growth to improve the lives of millions. The energy negotiator has brokered deals in a number of African countries, including in the most frontier markets. He has the ear of many in oil and gas circles, helping shape policy and structure investments.


ee in t e future

Africa needs more Ndidis. This former McKinsey consultant is one of the foremost experts in social innovation, agriculture and nutrition in Africa. Through her investment firm she puts her money where her mouth is, investing in numerous ventures across the food value chain. She sits on many international and local boards including Nestlé Nigeria, Nigerian Breweries and Canadian investment group Fairfax Africa among others. Through Leap Africa and other organisations and initiatives she is central to, she serves as a mentor to youth and women across Africa.

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Koos Bekker

Breaking the internet Bekker is the architect of the South African media and internet conglomerate Naspers’ meteoric rise. Alongside CEO, Bob Van Dijk, he has this year overseen one of the firm’s most significant moves since it decided to take a punt on buying a stake in Tencent, then a little-known Chinese internet company and now one of the world’s most valuable tech giants. In September, Naspers, once an Afrikaans media house, combined its internet assets, which include around a third of Tencent, into Prosus, a new company which listed in Amsterdam, with a valuation of $110bn. At least 27% of the company is up for grabs, while Naspers will hold on to 73%. Prosus has already begun to throw its weight around with an ambitious bid for Just Eat, the UK online food order and delivery service. That looks like just the beginning for a company with South African roots that could reshape the world’s tech scene. As if this is not enough, Bekker also recently opened a hotel and restaurant in the UK, having overseen a multi-milliondollar renovation of a 300-year-old property in the Somerset countryside, three hours from London, inspired by Babylonstoren, one of the oldest Cape Town farms. GHANA

Bozoma Saint John


It’s a known fact that Bozoma Saint John has had an admirable career in the marketing world. She won acclaim as one of Billboard Magazine’s top women in music, and was included in Fastcompany’s 100 most creative people listing. Burnishing her resumé credentials even further, in 2017 she left Apple for a stint at Uber as Chief Brand cer. In 2018, she oined media and events company Endeavour to head up its marketing operations as CMO. This year she was one of the celebrities ho floc ed to hana for the ‘Full Circle’ event, aimed at promoting economic and cultural collaboration bet een fricans and influential people of African descent living in America.

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Most Influential Africans

Business & Finance ZIMBABWE

Strive Masiyiwa

e ise entre reneur


Karim Awad

e consu ate an er

Since assuming the leadership of EFG Hermes in 2013, CEO Karim Awad has turned it into the Arab world’s leading investment bank. EFG has advised on a number of international deals, helping list firms on international exchanges and also channelling capital from the Gulf into Africa. Last year, Awad oversaw EFG’s 100% acquisition of Nigerian brokerage house Primera Africa. It has also expanded its country portfolio by moving out from traditional markets such as Egypt, the UAE, Jordan and Oman into frontier markets such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as Kenya where it opened operations in 2017.

Telecoms billionaire Strive Masiyiwa, Zimbabwe’s richest man, is more attuned than most to the rough and tumble of the African business world, and 2019 has been a year of adapting to new market realities. In July, it was reported that Masiyiwa’s payTV operator Econet Media had placed its struggling satellite broadcasting business, which has $130m debts, under administration. The company, operator of the Kwesé brand name, has struggled to adapt to fierce competition in the T market. His data, voice and IP provider Liquid Telecom appears to be in much better shape - the UK’s CDC Group acquired an 8% stake for $180m in April, valuing Liquid at some $2.25bn. It’s been a busy few months in Southern Africa too, where Masiyiwa announced plans to list his Botswana mobile operator, but ‘went to war’ with the Zimbabwean authorities over their decision to ban mobile money. Meanwhile, he remains an outspoken and principled leader, railing against corruption when he delivered the annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture in October.

“Around $13.4 trillion a year is lost to corruption. Think about what we could do with that.”


Tonye Cole o er

a nate

Tonye Cole is undoubtedly one of the most important players in the Nigeria energy sector. Sahara Group, the company he co-founded, is now present in 38 countries globally and throughout Africa. Cole is today the face of responsible business, putting an emphasis on strong corporate governance and sustainable business practice. He’s a member of the Private Sector Advisory Group of the United Nations Sustainable Development Fund and was appointed to the World Bank’s Expert Advisory Council on Citizen Engagement.


Samuel Dossou-Aworet allen er of la ran afri ue

Over a long and distinguished career, Samuel Dossou-Aworet has played a central role in the African oil and gas sector. The founder of the Petrolin Group of companies, where he is the Group Chairman and CEO, he is currently also the Chairman of ND Western, and a strategic advisor to a host of leading oil companies, including Tullow Oil, Engen in South Africa, NDEP in Nigeria and Hess in the US. His posts include having served twice as the Chairman of OPEC’s Board of Governors. His outlook is marked by a belief in the importance of developing Africa with both indigenous and international players, and also by pan-Africanism, challenging la Françafrique and French multinational hegemony in West Africa. As the Chairman of the African Business Roundtable since 2017, he has been a strong advocate of regional integration, and he is also renowned for the humanitarian work of his panAfrican NGO, Fondation Espace Afrique (FEA). His awards for services to society include the Grand Officer of the Equatorial Star (Gabon), and Officer of the Legion of Honour (France).

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Ismail Ahmed

The world is not his limit This year, Ismail Ahmed was listed as one of the most influential blac Britons in the ’s Po erlist roll call. Born in brea a ay Somaliland, Ahmed went to the UK as a young man, here he too on a number of odd obs including as a stra berry pic er to send money bac to his family. periencing first-hand the di culties of sending money across borders, he created orld emit, then named frica emit, using 200,000 compensation follo ing unfair treatment after discovering corruption during his or on the nited Nations’ Somalia remittance programme. The investment as a shre d move currently, the business has around 3 million users, ho use a smartphone app to remit money to over 12 countries, cutting out e pensive middlemen in the process. Partnerships ith frican ban s and mobile net or s have further helped to boost the brand no small feat given ma or competition from S giants Money ram and estern nion.


Dina Powell

Power broker ina is arguably the most po erful frican in finance. This airo-born high flyer has flitted seamlessly bet een the hite ouse and investment ban oldman Sachs. She gained a name for herself as a rising star in the national security establishment ith a net or ing and po er-bro ing pro ess that helped to forge a close relationship ith Saudi rabia’s de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman. She returned to oldman Sachs in 2018 as a member of the ban ’s management committee. This year, she bro ered a po erful alliance of her o n, marrying financier avid Mc ormic , the co-chief e ecutive of the orld’s largest hedge fund, Bridge ater.


Ibukun Awosika

Formidable force This formidable and distinguished business leader serves as the chairman of one of Nigeria’s biggest ban s, irst Ban of Nigeria, but it is her role as an entrepreneur and business oman that continues to inspire and command influence and respect, not only in Nigeria but, increasingly, globally. founder member of imBiz, an initiative to include more omen in leadership positions, osi a leads by e ample, sitting on many boards and instilling a culture of principled leadership and strong corporate governance. ast month in hana, she as also a udge for the ac Ma oundation’s 1m frica Netpreneur prize.

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Most Influential Africans

Business & Finance




Mark Bristow

Amy Jadesimi

Jide Zeitlin

South African businessman Mark Bristow is the EO of Africa-focused miner Randgold Resources. He became one of the gold industry’s most powerful men following a 2018 merger of Randgold Resources with Barrick Gold, making it the world’s biggest gold company by market capitalisation. Thanks to Bristow, Randgold now runs five of the 10 best gold mines in the world, and has succeeded where other miners have failed. This year he also brokered a deal with the Tan anian government, settling a longstanding multi-billion lawsuit the government had with Barrick Gold.

s chief e ecutive o cer of adol - the agos eep ffshore ogistics Base, an industrial free zone providing logistics and engineering support to the offshore oil and gas industry, my Jadesimi is one of the most prominent female executives in Nigeria. The Oxford and Stanford graduate began her career with Goldman Sachs before being appointed chief executive of , founded by her father, in 2009. Jadesimi’s time in charge of the base has coincided with an expansion of facilities, including a huge floating production storage and o oading vessel owned by French oil giant Total.

Jide Zeitlin has risen to become one of the most significant corporate figures in the fashion industry. In September, he was confirmed as the new chief executive of the leading fashion house Tapestry owner of luxury brands oach and ate Spade. eitlin has got a big job on his hands to boost earnings after Tapestry’s shares lost more than half of their value in a year. et two decades at Goldman Sachs, and roles as chairman of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and with the Harvard Business School’s Board of Dean’s Advisors, mean that he has the authority and connections to turn things around.




Halima Dangote

Herbert Wigwe

Marcia Ashong

With the Dangote Group expanding its activities, its founder Aliko Dangote depends on a strong team of trusted lieutenants. One of these is his second daughter, Halima Dangote, who has her father’s ear. Modest and humble, she is also highly determined, and has grown in stature while earning her stripes. Having led the turnaround of Dangote Flour Mills, she became the Group Executive Director, Commercial Operations of the group in November. Halima also chairs the Africa Center in New York and is a trustee of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the conglomerate. Her close friends are a who’s who of business leaders and serial entrepreneurs.

Not someone to seek the limelight, he has been the most influential banker in Nigeria this year, having overseen Access Bank’s purchase of Diamond Bank. Alongside his partner Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, they have managed to transform Access Bank, a smallish bank at the turn of the millennium, into one of the biggest banks in terms of deposits and assets. A shrewd and savvy banker with a clear vision, he has built an institution that today sits confidently within the top-tier of African banking.

Marcia is the founder of TheBoardroom Africa (TBR Africa), an initiative that champions women in executive leadership positions across Africa. TBR Africa is the most active such project on the continent, providing training for aspiring leaders and working with corporates to have a greater representation of women on their boards. As such, Marcia has developed one of the strongest networks of women leaders in Africa. Her professional training and other passion is oil and gas and she has recently founded an oil and gas services company. Undoubtedly one of Africa’s rising stars.

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a e c an er

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Momar Nguer

Monsieur Afrique Momar Nguer began working for Total in 1984, after an initial spell working for Hewlett Packard, and has remained with the company since, developing a formidable knowledge of African and French business ecosystems through his roles climbing the ladder at the French oil giant. He was appointed General Manager of the Marketing and Services division in 2016, as well as a member of Total’s Executive Committee. With Total buying Anadarko’s African assets earlier this year, his responsibilities will only get bigger. In October, reflecting his growing reputation and social influence, he became Chairman of the International Africa Committee at MEDEF (the Movement of Enterprises of France), France’s largest employer federation. He is effectively Monsieur Afrique for the French business community, with the aim of fostering greater investments and partnerships between French and African companies.


Sangu Delle

Defying the odds After studying at Harvard, Sangu Delle founded investment holding company Golden Palm Investment (GPI) in 2008 to fund promising start-ups that can have a social impact, setting himself the mission of bringing real change to the African continent. GPI invested in start-ups like Solo Mobile in Nigeria and mPharma in Ghana. It has also built a portfolio of greenfield companies in healthcare, real estate, and financial services. Since 2017, he has headed up Africa Health Holdings, which describes its purpose as “building Africa’s healthcare future”. Delle has received many accolades and this year published Making Futures, a book charting the stories of 18 entrepreneurs across Africa.

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Most Influential Africans

Civil Society & Activism SUDAN

Alaa Salah



Didier Drogba

I actin li es o t e itc Drogba is well-known for his achievements on the pitch but he has also used his influence and fortunes to create change off it. Through his eponymous foundation, he provides financial and material support – in both health and education – to those living across the continent.

i ert

Dressed in an all-white robe atop a car, Salah was singing to a group of protestors near Sudan’s army head uarters, her finger pointed to the sky. When a photo of the moment went viral, the 22-year-old became an international symbol, and a catalyst of ongoing reforms in Sudan. She was protesting against the almost 30-year rule of the now ousted Omar l-Bashir. Salah continues to fight for reforms in Sudan and is especially vocal about the rights and inclusion of women in Sudanese society. Speaking on her rise as an activist, Salah explained at a UN Security Council Open Debate in October this year: “Before the revolution, I was a student of architectural engineering. I did not grow up around politics, but in an ordinary middle-class family - my mother is a designer and my father owns a construction company. But, as I would walk to university every day and see my fellow citizens around me, struggling to get food and medicine, half of the country living in poverty, how could one not become political?”


Ilwad Elman

In er fat er s footste s Elman’s father, Ali Ahmed, who spread the mantra ‘Drop the Gun, Pick Up the Pen’, was assassinated in 1996 for his work in disarming Somali youths forced to fight for arlords. This, alongside having an activist mother, sparked the passion for her own work. Elman, the 29-year-old 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, co-founded the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre in Somalia alongside her mother. The centre also supports survivors of sexual and gender-based violence through counselling and emergency medical care it is the first rape crisis centre in Somalia.

“In December last year, our fi or read eca e a fi or our reedo ”



Rasha Kelej

Edem Adzogenu

In October, Burundi’s First Lady, Denise Nkurunziza, featured in a music video, where she sang, danced and spoke about the stigmas around infertility. Widely circulated on social media, and picked up by the BBC, it drew much praise. The video was made in support of the Merck More Than a Mother initiative, founded by Kelej in 2017 to raise awareness about infertility, a condition that can be misunderstood in African societies, where harsh ‘blame’ is often put on the oman, ithout scientific reasoning. Kelej works alongside 18 African First Ladies – as well as musicians – to empower childless and infertile women.

Dr Adzogenu, a medical doctor, is the cofounder of the AfroChampions initiative, a collection of public-private partnerships and programmes designed to support the emergence and success of private sector enterprise. Adzogenu is active on many fronts and a man of a million ideas. He runs a think tank in his native Ghana. He has recently launched Caravan Africa, an initiative that aims to support 100,000 micro-enterprises. He’s helping develop value chains in agriculture, textiles and fashion. He’s the chairman of the Campaign for Financial Independence in Africa, to break the poverty cycle. He’s a pan-Africanist who is determined to restore African pride and glory. All this and he’s barely 40.

i tin fe ale infertilit sti a


nter rise

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Purity Soinato Oiyie

Anti-FGM rebel – against all odds

Purity Soinato Oiyie was barely 11 years old when she escaped from both Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage. She became the first girl in her village in Narok County in the heart of Kenya’s indigenous Maasai community to say no to both harmful cultural practices. Today at 23, Purity has become a powerful voice inspiring other girls and parents facing the same ordeal, and is one of the UN’s young champions contributing towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, which explicitly targets ending all forms of violence against women and girls, including harmful practices like FGM. She was one of the speakers at the opening session of the 62nd UN Commission on the Status of Women - the UN’s largest gathering on gender equality and women’s rights, at which she movingly, yet inspiringly spoke about her ordeal. “I was only 10 or 11 years old when my father decided to circumcise me. I was to become the fifth wife to a 70-year-old man. I talked to my class teacher and she informed the police chief. Just two hours before the cutting ceremony, the police came and took me away…I lived in the rescue centre in Narok town for eight years. It was far from my village…until that day, I hadn’t even seen a tarmac road,” says Purity, who now works for World Vision.

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di cul o con ince people o op ecau e i a cul ural prac ice o o e c ool and al o e irl and e eac er , al o e aa ai people in our lan ua e o e ideo o , a e e a are o i e ec , and ell e a ou e i por ance o educa ion,” uri y oina o iyie

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Most Influential Africanss

Civil Society & Activism SOUTH AFRICA

Zulaikha Patel

Young but so woke


Isha Sesay

African e e


Isha Sesay is a journalist who spent 13 years at American news channel CNN. Last year, she left the station to focus on reporting on more African stories. This year, she released the book Beneath the Tamarind Tree, a book focusing on the 276 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Chibok, Nigeria. Her sharp and deep knowledge of African affairs have also made Isha one of the continent’s most sought-after moderators and keynote speakers at many Africafocussed events. The Sierra eonean also leads a not-for-profit programme: W.E. Can Lead.


Luaty Beirão

e el it a cause

Beirão, otherwise known as Ikonoklasta, is a Portuguese-Angolan rapper and activist who uses his music to criticise and raise awareness about injustices. He was part of a group of Angolan activists who were arrested in June 2015, during ex-president José Eduardo dos Santos’ 38-year administration. In protest against his arrest, Beirão began a hunger strike along with other political prisoners, while serving his five-and-a-half-year prison sentence. Their collective strike led to reduced sentences. Beirão’s activism is unique because he is the son of politician João Beirão, who was close to ex-president Dos Santos.

She made headlines three years ago at only 13 years old, protesting about her school’s hair policy, which discriminated against Afro hair. She and her co-protesters were threatened with arrest. “When I processed that in my mind, I knew that this was bigger than me; this was a bigger fight; this was a bigger cause and this was beyond me… I was obligated to do this for future generations that were yet to come,” she told a South African news channel this year. Photos and videos of the demonstration spread across national and international media and eventually the school and province’s hair policy changed. Now aged 17, Patel continues to fight against and raise awareness about the struggles females face in South Africa, especially young black females. She has this year been a familiar face and is a popular speaker against gender-based violence, and the rape and murder of young women in South Africa. Her tenacity at such a young age is a cause for admiration.


Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim li ate arrior

Ibrahim is an advocate and a member of the Peule Mbororo ethnic group, a small sub-group of the nomadic Fulani people of the Sahel, who are being challenged by the effects of climate change. Given this, Ibrahim’s advocacy focuses on environmental protection and the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples, especially women. Ibrahim was also selected to represent civil society at the N Paris Agreement. There, she warned: “If you do not increase finance for [climate change] adaptation, soon there will be no one to adapt.”


Rebeca Gyumi

innin t e attle a ainst c il arria es Tanzania has the 11th-highest absolute number of child brides in the world, according to NI EF. With at least 779,000 child brides, two out of five girls living in the East African country are married before their 18th birthday. Previously, girls in Tan ania could marry at the age of 14. In January 2016, Gyumi, a lawyer and social activist, decided to fight against this law. She embarked on a mission to change it and empower girls in Tan ania. Following her campaign, in July 2016, sections 13 and 17 of the Marriage Act were ruled unconstitutional. Most notably, the Tanzanian government appealed against the 2016 landmark ruling. However, in October this year, the government lost the appeal – the 2016 ruling has been upheld.

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Hamzat Lawal

Anti-graft crusader


Eddie Ndopu

Disability rights defender About 90% of children with a disability across Africa do not have access to education. Ndopu almost became a part of this statistic. Aged 2, Ndopu was diagnosed with a degenerative disease, and given until the age of 5 to live. After outliving his prognosis, he made it his mission to help close the access gaps for those living with disabilities. Ndopu was appointed an SDG advocate by the UN earlier this year, alongside the likes of Nana Akufo-Addo, the President of Ghana. Ndopu secured a deal with TV network MTV, which will film a docuseries about his bid to go into space.

It is estimated that $400bn has been stolen and misused by Nigerian government o cials. In 2012, a al founded Connected Development (CODE) to tackle this issue of corruption in Nigeria. His team, including journalists, lawyers and 5,000 volunteers, identify development projects and send freedom of information letters to the o cials in charge. Upon receipt of project details, including the total funding allocation, the team transmits the information to the beneficiary community - this pressures o cials to act appropriately. If a project is not progressing as planned, CODE holds talks with those in charge and publicises the shortcomings via the media. By doing this, the watchdog says it has impacted more than two million people and facilitated the appropriate usage of over 10m. This year, a al as the recipient of a UN Action Award, a prize which recognises those working to achieve the SDGs in the most transformative ays. In 2016, as the inner of the N frica ard. orth 100,000, this acknowledges African organisations that tackle challenges impeding development. a al also leads the Nigerian arm of Not Too Young To Run. The movement successfully campaigned for the reduction of the minimum required age for Presidential eligibility – it was lowered from 40 to 30 years old.

“I believe you do not need to hold a political position before you can be impactful... I’m not seeing myself in Nigerian politics,” Hamzat Lawal


Olusegun Obasanjo Baba no rest

The former Nigerian President remains a tireless activist, putting many current heads of state to shame with his energy and drive. ven though he finds it hard not to comment on Nigerian politics, his biggest impact today is across the multitude of initiatives and institutions he chairs and lends his support to, in areas ranging from agriculture to peace and security. He remains a committed pan- fricanist and an influential voice in international circles, fighting for Africa’s interests and holding its leadership to account.

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Most Influential Africans

Innovation, Health & Education NIGERIA

Onyeka Akumah A ri tec


Roy Allela

Ins ire in entor Many in Africa may not have heard of Sign-IO, and yet, it is one of the most heartening tech innovations to come out of Africa, having been created by an African for some of the most underserved people in Africa – the deaf or those with other hearing impairments. In Africa, sign language is not widely known or understood. And when 27-yearold Roy Allela found himself with a predicament, while his deaf niece was endeavouring to communicate with him, he took to his skills as a tech innovator to find a solution, creating Sign-IO, smart gloves that turn a user’s sign language into audio. According to the UK’s Guardian, Allela this year piloted the gloves at a special needs school in rural Migori County, southwest Kenya, to positive feedback. This unique invention, when rolled out further, could become a muchneeded social-inclusion game changer in Africa. a ryin o en i ion o my niece’s life would be if she had the same opportunities a e eryone el e in educa ion, employment, all aspects of life,” Roy Allela

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For over three years, Onyeka Akumah has been making waves in the agri-tech space as the head of one of the continent’s most successful agriculture start-ups. Operating as a platform which drives local finance into smallholder farming across Nigeria, Farmcrowdy has so far impacted the lives of over 25,000 farmers across 14 states. Working his way up through Nigeria’s tech scene, he has a background in marketing with the likes of Konga, Jumia and Wakanow. Growing up in a family of four sisters in the 80s, Akumah decided he wanted to become a software engineer after stumbling on a book about coding in the Sokoto college library, northwest Nigeria. He is now a leading pioneer in Africa’s burgeoning agri-tech space. His desire to improve the lot of smallholder farmers is second to none.

ricul ure i no a uic in u ine i lon term and it will take a ile o reap e enefi ro i pro e en in e ec or ”


Professor Kelly Chibale ar a ioneer

Prof. Chibale is the founder and director of the University of Cape Town’s H3D, Africa’s only fully integrated drug discovery centre. Born to a working-class family in Zambia’s Copperbelt Province, Chibale’s life reads like a rags-toriches story. After attending the University of Zambia, he went to the UK’s Cambridge University in 1989 on a scholarship, where he earned a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry in just three years. He then joined the University of Liverpool as a research fellow, moving on to the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, where he studied anti-cancer drugs. His enterprise H3D, which has grown from a team of five to over 60 post-doctoral scientists, is working to put South Africa, and Africa at large, on the map in terms of pharmaceutical research and development. “I want to debunk this myth that Africa cannot lead international e or o inno a e in e pharmaceutical space and ac ually di co er dru a call con ron in ro pessimism,” ro

i ale


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“Ebola kills quickly and Ebola heals quickly. That’s the message.”


Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum

Africa’s Ebola warrior Back in 1976, he was part of the research team that investigated the first no n outbreak of Ebola. Since then, he has dedicated 40 years of his life to further research on the deadly virus. But 2019 has been truly special for Dr Muyembe, who is director-general of the National Institute for Biomedical Research and Professor of Microbiology at Kinshasa University Medical School in DR Congo. In August this year, at the height of the new outbreak of Ebola in his home country of DR Congo, news broke that

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two Ebola patients who were treated with new drugs in the city of Goma had been declared “cured” and returned to their home. Dr Muyembe and his team would later, according to the BBC’s Focus on Africa, announce that a new cure had proved effective in curing 90 of bola patients when symptoms were detected and reported early. “These two cases were detected very quickly,” he said. “As soon as the response teams identified them, they brought them here to the treatment centre. We gave them treatment that is effective and here in a short time, both were cured,” he later elaborated at a press conference in Goma. Dr Muyembe and his team’s research and efforts have galvanised global hope that the battle against one of the world’s deadliest diseases can be won. Accolades have been flo ing in, including from Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who on 30 August this year honoured the good doctor with the 2019 Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize.

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Most Influential Africans

Innovation, Health & Education NIGERIA

Aig Imoukhuede

e no le in estor


Precious Lunga

ioneerin scientist

Precious Lunga, who has a PhD in neuroscience, began her career at UNAIDS Geneva, where she helped with the implementation of HIV prevention programmes. She then pioneered Econet’s mobile health platform, mHealth, a technology-based product that delivers services using mobile money payments. She now runs the Baobab Circle, a health technology company that offers services via phones across Africa. Its app allows users to communicate remotely with doctors, monitor chronic conditions and receive advice on lifestyle and treatment.

Aig Imoukhuede could easily appear in our business section given his active investments through his asset management and investment vehicles. But he stands out for his work in mobilising private capital towards health and education. He also has a unique determination and single-mindedness. Close to the Nigerian and African business elite, he has helped to bring the Global Citizen Festival to Nigeria next year, promising to make it the biggest and most impactful to date in terms of advocacy. He has made it his personal mission to deploy and channel more capital, private and public, towards issues of health. By fi in

eal , you fi






Francisca Nneka Okeke ucator e traor inaire

Ever the pioneer, Francisca Nneka Okeke led the way when she was appointed the first female dean at the aculty of Physical Sciences, the niversity of Nigeria, demonstrating that the sciences are open to both genders. In post from 2008 to 2010, her advocacy led to the inclusion of more omen in the department, ith the hiring of three ne female faculty members. e e has spent much of her career studying the ionosphere and the e uatorial electro et phenomenon , an electric current which traverses the globe. er or could lead to a better no ledge of climate change and help pinpoint sources of climate disaster li e tsunamis and earth ua es. She as appointed a fello of the Nigerian cademy of Science in 2011.

36 new african december

Thierry Zomahoun

Ma in e ucation count A tireless thought-leader on the continent, Thierry Zomahoun has been leading innovative education initiatives for over two decades. Having worked on educational and scientific programmes for businesses and NGOs in Africa, Asia and Latin America, he currently heads the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), a pan-African network of centres of excellence for postgraduate training, research and public engagement in the mathematical sciences. He also founded the Next Einstein Forum, which positions itself as Africa’s global science forum. A key belief held by both the forum and the institute is that Africa can and will produce the next Einstein. Zomahoun is also the founder of the Kifra Prize, which honours research breakthroughs in science, technology and maths.


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Peter Tabichi

The benevolent teacher In March this year, Peter Tabichi - a maths and physics teacher at a little-known secondary school in the remote village of Pwani in Nakuru, enya - became the first frican to win the $1m Global Teacher Prize, awarded by the Dubai-based Varkey Foundation. He beat 10,000 other nominees from 179 countries. On a continent where it is well documented that teachers are some of the lowest paid and make do with basic or little resources, Tabichi selflessly spends 80 of his monthly income on supporting Keriko School and his community. It a rare story of altruism that has caught the attention of millions worldwide – including from an unlikely fan, US President Donald Trump, who even invited and met him at the White House. But for Tabichi, the prize will not change him.

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“I am still the same person, and Nakuru is where this prize found me and Nakuru is where I will always be,” Peter Tabichi

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Most Influential Africans


Edward Kobina Enninful as ion futurist


Serge Daniel

ulin t e air a es

This Benin national, now based in Mali, is one of the most respected African voices on RFI, the French public service radio. An old hand in the industry and in Mali for over a decade, he has an unrivalled network and is a trusted source on issues around security matters, especially those in the Sahel, to the degree that some have accused him of being a secret agent! But his journalistic qualities are unquestionable and many people of influence go to him for counsel and advice. In October he received the Norbert Zongo prize for investigative reporting for his or on tra c corridors in the Sahel.


Afua Hirsch

ea in trut to o er

Afua Hirsch is the most vocal, and arguably the most articulate, commentator on issues of race. A barrister by training, she is not one to take prisoners, standing up to the establishment in supposedly superior Western democracies. Following the successful publication of her book on identity, Brit(ish), last year, she has now published an illustrated children’s book on Judge Brenda, the supreme court judge who made the historical judgment finding that the British Prime Minister unlawfully advised the Queen to prorogue parliament this year. Hirsch is currently producing a documentary on the transatlantic slave trade. She has also been a judge for the 2019 Booker Prize - one of the most prestigious English language book awards.

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It is two years since Ghanaian-born Edward Enninful became the first man, as well as black man, to hold the post of Editor-in-Chief of the iconic British Vogue magazine in its 103-year past, and made his debut with a history-making, sales-recordbreaking cover which featured the Ghanaian-British model, Adwoa Aboah. In an industry known for being notoriously white and routinely dismissive of ethnic diversity, all eyes have been on Enninful, watching how he is keeping to his word to revolutionise one of the biggest magazines in the world. And without doubt, Enninful is delivering and cementing his commitment to producing a magazine that embraces all forms of diversity and inclusiveness. To celebrate his 2-year journey at the helm of Vogue, one of the double December 2019 covers refreshingly features plus-size black American singing sensation Lizzo. Posting on Instagram, Enninful wrote: “Seeing such a positive force for good on our cover in all her glory makes me realise how far we have come… I’m so pleased that inclusivity remains at the core of British Vogue and that, in the time since I began here, the fashion and publishing industries have started to embrace a much more exciting and diverse idea of who can be a cover star. How incredible is that?” This year he also convinced Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, to guest edit the magazine.


Folly Bah Thibault

e anal tical anc or

Thibault is one of the leading anchors at Al Jazeera English, the network she joined in 2010. She is renowned for her hard-hitting interview style on some of the biggest topical news stories – be it analysing Donald Trump’s impeachment saga, dissecting tensions in the Gulf, or interviewing African leaders on the campaign trail. A familiar face on the channel, many will recall her covering major events such as the 2004 tsunami, Barack Obama’s election campaign and victory in 2008, and North Africa’s Arab Spring. Her ability to break down complex news stories and present them to viewers in a sharp and engaging way have garnered her wide praise and admiration. Thibault is also the founder and president of the Elle Ira à l’Ecole foundation – which promotes the education of girls in Guinea.

“I’m so pleased that inclusivity remains at the core of British Vogue, and that we have started to embrace a more diverse idea of who can be a cover star,” Edward Kobina Enninful


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Trevor Noah

The showman Trevor Noah is one of the most successful comedians and TV talk-show hosts to come out of Africa in recent years. The Emmy Award-winning The Daily Show, which he has hosted since 2015, is not only a global phenomenon and crowdpleaser, but an awards magnet too. This year The Daily Show was nominated for three Emmys, including Outstanding Variety Talk Series. But awards aside, Noah e erts a lot of influence and ignites debate among his millions of fans, keen on his witty, satirical take on global politics and more so, the current state of politics in Donald Trump’s America. Noah’s comedic approach is also increasingly being credited with winning over and engaging diverse audiences, including the youth, helping them to process the news and politics. In November the witty showman achieved a solo highlight with a prestigious Grammy nomination for Best Comedy, for his stand-up show, ‘Son of Patricia’.

“I don’t think it’s healthy for people to exist perpetually in a state of news. And I think the ne a enefi ed ro a or a lon i e,pu in you rou a our ne cycle o trying to create a show where I o, ey, u p in, en oy your el or inu e ”, re or oa , ro

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Born a ri e

25/11/2019 11:56

Most Influential Africans


Julie Gichuru

A oice t at carries


June Sarpong i ersit c a


Born in London to Ghanaian parents, broadcast journalist June Sarpong has been a familiar face on British television and pop culture for many years. In recent years she has been a staunch campaigner for diversity in the UK’s media. “The media is self-selecting – with the result that newsrooms are not reflective…Editors and gatekeepers need to realise that there’s a slew of talent out there that could bring a whole new market,” she once argued in an interview with a BBC reporter. June went one step further last July when she released Diversify – Six Degrees of Integration, a book in which she discusses the negative impact of stereotypes on social interactions. Working with the University of Oxford, the book also introduces for the first time in literature, an ‘ISM Calculator’ encouraging readers to calculate the level of their discriminatory views and beliefs. In October this year she was appointed the new Director of Creative Diversity at the BBC, where she “will lead a renewed drive to further transform and modernise the BBC and its culture… and work to increase representation and ensure that our content reflects the public we serve,” the BBC said.

“We are all guilty of ‘otherising’ and excluding people o ee di eren to us, and if unchecked the results can be catastrophic,”

The former TV anchor Gichuru is a household name in her native Kenya, where she’s been an important commentator and voice during the most important events the country has experienced in the past decade. Describing herself as an entrepreneur and media personality, her services are sought after not only at the continent’s biggest gatherings, but as an adviser to a number of people and institutions on their outreach and communication strategies. Commenting prolifically on political and social issues on her social media profiles, Julie – the “Afro-optimist”, as she describes herself – exerts enormous influence over her followers, and has a combined total of over a million.


Mark Eddo Master co


Mark Eddo is the CEO of Mark Eddo Media, a Lagos, Nigeria-based communications consultancy that works closely with governments, as well as non-government and private sector organisations to build consensus and achieve goals. He is one of Africa’s leading conference presenters and has moderated many major international forums. This year, Eddo has been a key player in facilitating projects and events including the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area for the African Union, and the creation of the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund’s Private Sector Initiative for the UN. The initiative, which focuses on the northeast of Nigeria, is a first for the UN, enabling the private sector to contribute to the humanitarian assistance provided by donor countries, and will serve as a blueprint for how businesses can engage with the UN to support humanitarian action globally. In 2019, Eddo, who is also a former BBC and ITN business correspondent, and his business partner Joanne McNally, created the frican Influencers for Development (AID) partnership initiative for the UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa. This harnesses Africa’s creative, intellectual and entrepreneurial energy through a coalition of frican influencers in business, academia and the arts.

June Sarpong

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Most Influential Africans

Arts & Culture SENEGAL

Mati Diop

e one to atc


Sherrie Silver

ancin to star o

She may have risen to fame as the creative force behind the dance moves in the acclaimed, albeit controversial, American rapper, Childish Gambino’s award-winning hit ‘This is America’, which has so far amassed over 600m views on YouTube. But, 2019 is the year Sherrie Silver came into her own. Silver, who is also an actress, has gone on to do more choreography, including for the catchy ‘Drogba (Joanna)’ by Afro B, and TV campaigns for Vogue, Nike, Hunters Cider, Whole Foods and SportPesa. She is also becoming a respected philanthropist in Rwanda, where she works with underprivileged kids.

In May this year, Mati Diop made Africa proud by winning the coveted Cannes Grand Prix for her film Atlantics (Atlantique). She became the first black woman director to win an award in the Festival’s 72-year history. At the Toronto International Film Festival, Diop was the recipient of the inaugural Mary Pickford Award for emerging female talent. Back home, Atlantics was selected as Senegal’s entry for the international feature film category at the upcoming Academy Awards. The film has also has since premiered on Netflix, to much acclaim and putting African cinema firmly on the map. Diop is the niece of the late Djibril Diop Mambéty – the celebrated Senegalese actor, poet and cinema pioneer.


Sho Madjozi

e national treasure

What a year it has been for the 27-yearold from Limpopo, who has crafted her own genre of rap by blending her local tongue Xitsonga, English and at times Swahili, into catchy tunes. But who knew, when she started singing on Instagram three years ago, that in 2019 she would not only win the fan-voted category, the Best New International Act, at the BET awards, but also take America (and the world at large), by storm with her global hit ‘John Cena’, referencing the WWE wrestling legend. This year she has also been an unflinching vocal critic of xenophobia in South Africa.



N’Goné Fall

Rami Malek

A renowned curator, essayist and cultural policies specialist, N’Goné Fall is currently the General Commissioner of Season Africa 2020 - an initiative championed by France’s President Macron to bring more understanding of the world, from an African perspective. As a cultural policies advisor, she produces strategic plans, orientation programmes and evaluation reports for governments and international institutions. Her past roles include being Editor of the African art magazine, Revue Noire. She has also previously curated numerous exhibitions in Africa, Europe and the USA, including as a guest curator at the Dakar Contemporary Art Biennial.

He donned the persona of one of the world’s greatest music legends – playing Queen frontman Freddie Mercury – in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, a role for which he won an Oscar for Best Actor last year. Malek, a US citizen born of two Egyptian immigrants, has lately, according to Screenrant, been rendering an authoritative voice on the plight of immigrants in the US. Malek, who is also a recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Award and the British Academy Film Award, wound up 2019 by playing Safin, the primary antagonist in the much-anticipated upcoming James Bond release, No Time To Die, alongside Daniel Craig and Naomi Harris.


a en

in of t e ile

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Burna Boy

The Giant of Africa The 28-year old Burna Boy – born Damini Ogulu – has without doubt been one of Africa’s fastest-rising and most popular stars of 2019. His fusion of dancehall, Afrobeats, pop and reggae have captured the world – bagging him a number of awards this year, including the much-coveted International Act of the Year prize at the popular Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards. In June, Apple Music gave him a shout-out as the “next artist” to watch and included his music on Beats 1 – a music station owned and operated by Apple Inc. He crowned the year with a featured song on the one and only Beyoncé’s Lion King: The Gift album, and received a Grammy nomination for Best World Music Album. “I can guarantee you that at least 90% of people my age have no clue about the real origins of Nigeria. There’s so much truth that we need to know in order to be respected. Because right now the only thing that can save the youth is knowledge and financial independence,” Burna Boy, in an interview with Fader

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Most Influential Africans

Arts & Culture NIGERIA


Thando Hopa

Joel Kachi Benson

People born with albinism are some of the most marginalised in Africa. And growing up with the genetic skin disorder, Thando has borne it all, and has shared the paradoxical ignorance her condition ignites in people: “There is a contradictory belief that people with albinism bring either good or bad luck. People hug and hold me for good luck, or conversely spit into the necklines of their tops to ward off bad luck,” she says. But against all odds, the model, who is a lawyer by profession, has become a powerful voice and advocate for diversity and inclusion in the beauty and fashion industry. And she is being heard. She crowned 2019 by appearing on the Cover of Vogue Portugal’s April edition, the first person with albinism to grace a Vogue cover in the history of the magazine franchise.

It has been more than 5 years, and that hashtag #bringbackourgirls is but a fading memory. But to remind the world about Chibok, filmmaker Joel Kachi Benson produced and directed the tear-jerking Daughters of Chibok, which this September won best virtual reality story at the Venice Film Festival – the first African film to win the award. Benson, who is the founder of VR360 Stories, a pioneering Nigerian virtual reality video production company, said about the film: “I use immersive storytelling to amplify the voices of those who would ordinarily not be heard. In January 2019, five years after the kidnap, I made my first trip to Chibok and I met Yana, woman leader and mother of Rifkatu Galang, one of the missing girls. Like many others, Yana can’t move on – she still washes her daughter’s clothes and packs them in a small bag, waiting for her return. Many mothers in Chibok feel the world has moved on and forgotten about them, their pain and grief.”


Inclusion acti ist

“In stories there needs to be a greater level of representation - we shouldn’t limit certain images to stereotypical roles and narratives.”


Nelson Makamo tar ainter

This year has been a coming of age for this talented 36-year-old South African artist. He has a unique and recognisable style and is best known for his charcoal and oil paintings portraying African children. With superstar fans all over the world, including the likes of Oprah Winfrey, hip hop artist Swizz Beatz and filmma er va u ernay, he was approached by Time magazine to produce the cover of their ‘Optimists’ issue. It is unquestionable that he has become one of the most sought-after African artists.

ters of

i o


Joana Choumali

e i a inin African art

Joana Choumali’s bold and emotionevoking photographic and textile art won her the 2019 Prix Pictet - the world’s leading award for photography. She is the first-ever frican to in the exalted prize, whose theme this year was ‘hope’, a word that in many ways inspires Choumali’s artistic drive and journey. Her winning collection, titled Ça va aller (It will be OK), was partinspired by the 2016 terror attacks at three Ivorian hotels in the popular seaside town of Grand-Bassam. A prolific or er ho dra s inspiration from personal experiences, Choumali has this year alone been invited to 8 exhibitions worldwide. That’s the power and popularity of her work.


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Adut Akech

Model of the year Since signing up, at just 17 years old, to model as an exclusive for Saint Laurent on Anthony Vaccarello’s debut show in Paris in Spring/ Summer 2016, Adut Akech has become one of the world’s most recognisable and in-demand fashion models. Her face now appears on almost every other high-end fashion billboard, and she has featured in numerous editorial campaigns, both in magazines and on TV across the globe. Such is her clout that in the month of September alone this year, she graced four different Vogue magazine covers (Japan, British, Germany and Italy), among numerous others. Now 19, Akech has continued to be the muse for such powerhouse fashion houses as Valentino and Chanel. She has become a staple at opening catwalk shows, including for Alexander McQueen, Prada, Versace, Givenchy, Lanvin and many more. But outside fashion, Akech – who lived in a refugee camp as a young child – began to work with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to highlight the plight of refugees around the world, and inspire others from her background.

“Beauty to me, now, is about just expressing myself and being exactly who I am. What I am doing makes me feel the most beautiful, not caring about what anybody thinks,” Adut Akech, speaking to Elle

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Most Influential Africans

Arts & Culture CONGO

Alain Mabanckou

on olese literar icon


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

e e ote fe inist

The award-winning author and feminist is like a gift that keeps on giving. Although the prolific author did not write new work this past year, the world is fi xated with her previous volumes and continued advocacy championing women’s rights globally. The United Nations Foundation honoured her with a Global Leadership Award in November “for her work using literature and storytelling to connect with people across generations and cultures on issues of gender and racial equality.”

The Congolese indigene Alain Mabanckou – the renowned novelist, poet and teacher, remains a key figure in the African and global literary scene, two decades after emerging as a fledgling novelist at the age of just 23. Originally from Pointe-Noire in Congo Brazzaville, he moved to France on a scholarship after studying law at MarienNgouabi University in Brazzaville. It was here that his prolific writing career began, as he won the Grand prix littéraire d’Afrique noire for his first novel Bleu-blanc-rouge, in 1999. He has since won 16 literary prizes, including the Prix Renadout, one of France’s most distinguished awards, for his novel Mémoires de porc-épic, published in 2006. This year he teamed up with French-Djiboutian novelist Abdourahman Waberi to create The Playful Dictionary of African Cultures, the first of its kind and a recommended read – it would be an ideal festive gift.


Leila Slimani

nsun no elist

eila Slimani is perhaps one the most unsung, yet phenomenal authors to come out of rench-spea ing frica right no . But that is all about to change. ccording to media reports, including the Hollywood Reporter, the film production company egendary ntertainment are in the process of turning her novel The Perfect Nanny into a feature film. Published in rance in 2016, the boo has received ma or prizes including the Pri oncourt. It persuasively e plores a diverse range of issues from motherhood and race to social discrimination, ith a focus on neglected and mistreated migrants.



Lupita Nyong’o

Goretti Kyomuhendo

Since her Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 6 years ago, for her first feature film role in 12 Years a Slave, Lupita has hardly been out of the limelight, ith relentless magazine covers and features. But just when we wondered what else she can do, the icon of 2018’s Black Panther released her debut children’s novel, Sulwe. In true upita style, this is not just a book for kids – it’s an inspiration, about a young black girl who doesn’t think she’s beautiful, because all she finds in boo s and on T is the beauty of hite or light-s inned people. The illustrated boo sho s ho Sul e, the heroine, overcomes that. idely acclaimed, it is set to be translated into many languages.

This unassuming Ugandan literary great is the author of prize-winning works including The First Daughter, Secrets No More, and, most prominently in terms of international acclaim, Waiting: A Novel of Uganda’s Hidden War. She has also published children’s books and a writers’ guide entitled The Essential Handbook for African Creative Writers. Kyomuhendo deserves further celebration for her developmental literary work - as the founding member of FEMRITE, the Uganda Women Writers Association, and, since relocating to London, UK in 2008, the African Writers’ Trust, both of which have been acclaimed for nurturing writers’ voices.



ul e

e literar acti ist

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Leader of the rap pack Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo, the chart-topping rapper popularly known as Stormzy, has had a quite remarkable 201 . n une, he became the first blac British solo artist ever to headline the Glastonbury festival – one of the biggest events in the music calendar. He used his politically-charged performance to draw attention to the experience of young black people in the UK. The performance got everyone in his expanding global fanbase talking about how pop culture can be an influencer of positive change. nd then there were the awards that followed: the Ivor Novello and two Brits, to mention some. In June, he bagged a Time magazine cover, which described the 26-year-old as one of the “next generation leaders”. But that’s not all. The rapper has also created what the prestigious Cambridge University has termed “the Stormzy e ect . ollowing the rapper s funding of a full scholarship to two students this and last year, the university says more black students are now applying and being admitted into Cambridge than ever before. “The rapper’s scholarship has been part of the change in culture,” reported the BBC.


Felwine Sarr

Afrotopian agitator Senegalese-born Sarr is one of Africa’s most prominent intellectual voices, clocking in at number 6 of the highlyinfluential Art Review ‘Power 100 for 2019’ for his work on the decolonisation of Western museum collections. With Bénédicte Savoy, he was commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2018 to produce an advisory report on art and antiques acquired during the French colonial period. Sarr has also received the Grand Prix for his book on decolonisation, Afrotopia, and lectures at Gaston Berger University in Senegal.

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Most Influential Africans


Brigid Kosgei



Salwa Eid Naser

e i erian connection

Salwa Eid Naser’s victory over Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo in the 400 metres was the major upset of the World Athletics Championships in Doha. Her rival had stood down from the 200 metres to concentrate on the longer distance but, although she beat her regional record and made herself sick by her efforts, the Bahamian could not stop the 21-year-old Bahraini athlete’s surge to victory. Naser finished in 48.14 seconds, the best time for over 30 years. In spite of Miller-Uibo’s record and reputation, the result should not have been unexpected. Naser has been in outstanding form since winning the 2015 World Youth Championships and taking silver medal in the World Championships two years after. In Doha, Salwa destroyed the opposition with her stunning initial burst of speed – “poetry in motion”, as one television commentator described it. Naser, who is an inspiration for what youth can achieve with talent, training and determination, is one of the few top middle-distance athletes to come out of West Africa – she was born in Nigeria (as Ebelechukwu Abgapuonwy) before relocating to her Bahraini father’s country.

“I still can’t believe the time,” she said of her history-making time. “When I saw it I went completely crazy. I was training so hard but I never expected to run this fast.”

a er

In an exceptional weekend for marathon running, Brigid Jepscheschir Kosgei broke the women’s record in the Chicago Marathon with 2:14:04 on 13 October (the day after her compatriot Eliud Kipchoge had lowered the men’s two-hour barrier). It has been a stunning year for the 25-year-old Kenyan: she also became the youngest woman to win the London Marathon and set a course record of 1:04:28 in winning the Great North Run. Brigid’s victory in Chicago, confirming her victory there the previous year, broke the 16-year record of the UK’s Paula Radcliffe, who was on hand to congratulate her, by an exceptional 81 seconds. Inspired by the spectators, she started the first mile at break-neck speed and just kept going to cut more than four minutes from her best personal time. It was a triumph for dedication and commitment. But Kosgei does not intend to stop there. “I think 2 hours 10 minutes is possible for a lady. I am focussed on reducing my time again.”


Mohamed ‘Mo’ Salah in of earts

If he’s good enough for you, he’s good enough for me, if he scores another few, then I’ll be Muslim too – so rings out one of the Liverpool fans’ most popular chants whenever their ‘favourite son’, Mo Salah plays. But after a sensational season in 2017/18, Salah no longer belongs to Liverpool or for that matter, Egypt – he belongs to the world. His fan base across the globe is in the tens of millions. Some who know these things say he is already a legend in his own lifetime. He is one of the very few soccer players to feature on the cover of TIME magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People of 2019’ issue, as a testament to his influence globally. Will 2019/20 be as sensational for him as the last season? Planet Football has reassuring stats for any of his fans who may be worried: they show this is actually the forward’s best start to a campaign – not just for Liverpool, but in his entire career. Stats for his first 10 games: 2017/18: 6 goals, 1 assist; 2018/19: 3 goals, 1 assist and 2019/20: 6 goals, 3 assists. The Pharaoh, it seems, is still set on not only winning games and awards, but also hearts around the globe.

“Always believe in your ability and in your goals. This is the only way you will be able to reach them. ”

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Siya Kolisi

Man of destiny When Siyamthanda (Siya) Kolisi, the captain of the victorious Springboks rugby team, lifted the coveted William Webb Ellis Trophy after an emphatic 3212 demolition of England at the Yokohama Stadium in Japan on 2 November in the final of ugby orld up 201 , it was inevitable that the symbolism of one of world sport’s iconic moments transcended a mere rugby match, to embrace the legacy, hope and aspirations of millions of South Africans.

10,000 adoring fans lined the routes of the hampions rophy our in retoria, oweto, ohannesburg, urban, ort li abeth and ape own to welcome the triumphant Boks. hen the pringbo s won their first orld up in 1 , Kolisi was a -yearold toddler, oblivious to the historyma ing in progress at llis ar . hen there was only one Black player in the team hester illiams, who sadly passed away earlier this year. ast-forward to 201 in apan, and there were si lac s in the final, not counting the substitutes and members of the overall squad. In less than a quarter of a century, sports transformation in South Africa seems to have come of age,

led by Kolisi, whose inspiration and role model was none other than Madiba. It is this legacy that Kolisi is passing on to the next generation. It is a ‘work in progress’ and something that he is destined to be involved in whatever postrugby career he embarks on. His ascendancy to the apex of South African rugby is unique and compelling. He came from a desperately poor beginning where his parents could not a ord basic school fees, let alone his rugby kit. He impressed scouts with his demeanour and prowess, which earned him a scholarship at the prestigious Grey Junior School.

“I was given the opportunity and I took it with both of my hands. Every time I step on the pitch, I want to inspire everyone that’s been in my situation. You can always make it, as long as you believe. Your past doesn’t determine your future.”

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Most Influential Africans



Masai Ujiri


Israel Adesanya

King of the court

The undefeated champ

As the President of the Toronto Raptors in Canada, Masai Ujiri sits proudly in Africa’s basketball hall of fame. He was named the NBA Executive of the Year in 2013 for helping the Denver Nuggets return to the playoffs after a bad period. Following the success, he moved to the Raptors and helped the Toronto team win five division titles. This year he oversaw his side to the NBA championship title, the first win by a team based outside the United States. Ujiri was born in England but returned to Zaria in Nigeria when he was two years old. His interest in basketball began as a 13-year-old playing with friends at outdoor courts in Nigeria. After playing in America during high school, he then played in Europe for six years before being introduced to coaching by friends in the NBA. The rest is history.

Fighting out of Auckland, New Zealand, by way of Lagos, Nigeria, Israel Adesanya is an undefeated UFC middleweight champion with 18 wins under his belt, 14 from knockout. Growing up in Lagos, his love for fighting began at an afterschool Taekwondo club. Adesanya was then sent to New Zealand at the age of ten to get a better education. Inspired by the Thai martial arts film Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, he started amateur kickboxing until he made his professional debut in 2012 in Hong Kong. Since then he has signed with the UFC and recently, won a title fight against Robert Whittaker to become the middleweight champion.

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Amadou Gallo Fall Shooting for glory

With so many African players - or players of African descent - topping the American NBA charts, it’s time some of that hype was redirected to Africa. Amadou Gallo Fall, the new president of the Basketball Africa League, has the privilege of doing exactly that. Ahead of its launch next year, Fall has been responsible for helping execute a number of Africa-focused NBA campaigns on the continent. In South Africa, he helped open the league’s office in 2010, and established the NBA Academy Africa in 2017, which provides scholarships to 25 young hopefuls. Before that, Fall worked for the Dallas Mavericks, as vice president of international affairs. A Senegalese citizen, he rose to prominence at the country’s Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Senegalese Basketball Federation.

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Eliud Kipchoge

To the moon and back

Eliud Kipchoge, the 34 year-old Kenyan, made marathon history by breaking the 2-hour barrier in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge at the Prater Park, Vienna on 12 October. He completed the 26.2-mile course in

1:59:40, roared home by a large crowd on the final straight before embracing his wife, grabbing a Kenyan flag, and being mobbed by his pacemakers. The achievement, though spectacular, is not classed as an official marathon record because it wasn’t in an open race and due to the special conditions of the event (which were, themselves, a technical wonder). Even so, Kipchoge does also hold the official marathon record at the 2:01:39 he achieved at Berlin in 2018,

and earlier this year ran the secondfastest time of 2:02:37 to win the London Marathon. The Kenyan has dominated long-distance running since his senior international debut in the 5000 metres at the Paris World Championships in 2003 and has won 12 out of the 13 marathons in which he has competed (in the other he was runner-up). His performance is important, too, in lifting athletics from the controversies which have threatened to engulf it.

“Today we went to the Moon and came back to earth…This shows no-one is limited. Now I’ve done it, I am expecting more people to do it after me,” Eliud Kipchoge

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In September, a long-held wish for Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s archive to come home to Africa became a reality. It happened thanks to the dedication of some extraordinary people. Here is tribute to one of them, Solomon (Suleiman) Kakembo.

Celebrating a true son of Africa


he good news in September was that the late Ghanaian President Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s archive (or to be exact, part of it) was coming home to the continent to be hosted by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation in South Africa on behalf of Ghana, Nkrumah’s motherland. I was involved in the whole transfer so I know exactly what happened. Nkrumah’s Literary Executrix, the late Mrs June Milne, had custody of Nkrumah’s archive. She put part of it in Howard University in the US, pending the availability of appropriate facilities in Ghana to house it. The other half she kept at her home in London and later in Norwich, where she died on 5 May 2018. A true champion and Africanist, June had worked very closely with Nkrumah and was the one who went to Conakry, Guinea, 13 times under very difficult circumstances to either visit Nkrumah or to get his papers out after his death. The effort nearly caused her to lose her life but she was determined to rescue Nkrumah’s papers from Conakry after the coup that overthrew President Sékou Touré’s government. When June died in May 2018, her son Peter Milne became the custo-

dian of the half of Nkrumah’s archive that was in June’s custody. Peter graciously handed the archive to Africa after a group of us, gathered around the Harare-based Institute of African Knowledge (INSTAK) with Ambassador Kwame Muzawazi as the linchpin, intervened. Peter was contemplating placing the archive in the British Library, after he had tried hard but unsuccessfully to get a suitable African country to host it. Our group (INSTAK) contacted both the African Union and The Mbeki Foundation (TMF), requesting they step in and be the hosts of the archive as conditions in Ghana currently are not conducive to storing Nkrumah’s papers. The AU showed keen interest but the TMF acted faster. So, it is to the TMF that Nkrumah’s archives have gone for a temporary home at the University of South Africa (UNISA), from where, whenever Ghana is ready, the archive will finally go home to Accra. In the midst of all this is a pivotal woman without whom the archive would not have come to Africa: Mrs Elizabeth Kakembo. A true daughter of the African soil (she traces her ancestors from Uganda to Ancient Egypt), Elizabeth played a seminal role by acting not only promptly but also efficiently within our group.

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Having worked with June very closely herself for over 20 years, Elizabeth wanted June’s wish for Africa to have what belongs to it to be fulfilled. Interestingly, in early October, Ghana granted June’s wish for her ashes to be placed in the Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra. She deserved it! Equally deserving mention are Elizabeth and her husband, the late Solomon (Suleiman) Ssenyonga Kakembo who sadly passed away on 5 February 2019. They had been the publishers of Nkrumah’s books since late 1998, under the imprint PANAF Books. When June Milne retired from PANAF, the Kakembos stepped in, and for 21 years have managed to keep Nkrumah’s writings alive.

Solomon and his wife Elizabeth made sure Nkrumah’s books remained in print, and that they would continue to be available to future generations.

Debt of gratitude

Below: A man of modern ideas, Solomon often referred to his wife as his colleague and partner – one illustration among many of how he took equality seriously

Africa owes June, Solomon and Elizabeth a great debt of gratitude for having done so much to preserve Nkrumah’s intellectual legacy in line with his wishes as outlined in his last will and testament. Solomon (as he came to be known by his admirers) died aged 80, leaving behind Elizabeth (his best friend and colleague), two children and two grandchildren. Having known them myself since 1999, I feel obliged to pay Solomon a belated homage especially on the occasion of the coming home of Nkrumah’s archive. Solomon was an African hero. A man worth celebrating, he was born on 24 July 1938 in Mbarara Hospital in Uganda into a prominent Muslim family. Though Muslim, he was educated first at a Catholic Missionary School in Mbarara before moving on to one of Uganda’s leading Christian boarding schools, Nyakasura. He excelled as an all-rounder at school and was appointed variously as a house captain and head boy. Academically unbeatable, Solomon’s brilliance saw him coming first nationwide in the Senior Entrance Examination during the colonial days. Consequently, he won several scholarships to study abroad. After starting off at Makerere, he went to study in Pakistan and then Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). He ended up in England where he became one of the first Ugandans to join the Chartered Institute of Marketing in London. He worked at the London Electricity Board before starting his own business at a time when being an African entrepreneur based in London, with offices in Upper Regent Street in the heart of London, was unheard of for people from Africa.

Serial entrepreneur

He was one of the pioneers from East Africa to start his own import-export business in the UK in the 1960s. Known as a serial entrepreneur, he had many successes and some lows, but was always regarded as a kind, enlightened, and sophisticated gentleman by all who knew him. A forward thinker, who believed in equality of opportunity regard-

less of colour, gender or religion, Solomon maintained these values till the end of his life. He saw fairness, compassion, and forgiveness as some of the major ingredients that societies needed to thrive in harmony. He had friends everywhere regardless of religion, colour, or country of origin. While they were both studying in London, Solomon met Elizabeth, a Ugandan from a prominent Christian family. They married in Bloomsbury, London, in 1968 and grew to become a model couple of the highest order. For those of us who knew them, no husband and wife deserved more encomiums for practising the Biblical instruction of “the two becoming one” than Solomon and Elizabeth. A man of modern ideas, Solomon often referred to his wife as his colleague and partner, further demonstrating how he took equality seriously. Together they transformed PANAF Books, embracing new technology, joining the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG), Publishers’ Licensing Society (PLS), and introducing print on demand technology. They made sure Nkrumah’s books continued to be in print till today, and that they would continue to be available for future generations. Before he passed away, Solomon was involved in a process of refreshing the design of Nkrumah’s books. He was the epitome of devotion to the work of publicising and marketing the intellectual legacy of Africa’s independence icon. In all this, Solomon never forgot his roots. At the same time he fully embraced his adopted country, the UK, choosing to be buried there. A Pan-Africanist who saw the world as one family, Solomon was one of those who helped to bring about peace and equality during the dark days in Uganda and Southern Africa, and helped so many individuals and families who were really in need. He was extraordinary, a true unsung hero, a man that the world and Africa in particular should not forget. He is dearly missed, especially by myself and my wife (also called Elizabeth), who had the good fortune of knowing him and his wife, with whom we had sumptuous dinners any time they visited Zimbabwe. NA

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Analysts who study historical as well as economic trends have been predicting that this will be Africa’s century. Is this really possible? Can Africa make the big breakthrough this time around?

Africa can stand toe-to-toe with the big guys


n the heels of November’s exciting Africa Investment Forum hosted by the African Development Bank, the notion of the coming ‘African century’ may no longer be breaking news. Africa finds itself in a powerful position as the New World Order begins to solidify. It has all the ingredients needed to make the big leap into sustainable prosperity – but it must read the tea-leaves accurately to be able to do so. We are increasingly reading inspiring stories across Africa of fresh waves of foreign investment and international interest descending upon the continent to prime what will be the world’s largest marketplace into position in anticipation of future growth. For example, the Africa Investment Forum hosted by the African Development Bank in November, secured investment interests for transactions worth $40.1 billion. Indeed, because of the investments that have been made in Africa, we bear witness to a new generation of success stories, with the continent today able to stand toe-to-toe with international partners to reach new-found stages of development. The Economist reports that the

rising competition among foreign companies and governments to strengthen ties with Africa has presented historic opportunities, and this time, the main beneficiaries may be Africans themselves. Also, the current global movement of widespread nationalism, ongoing trade war between the US and China, and a destabilising Middle East among a myriad of seismic geopolitical shifts has created a certainty only of economic instability abroad. So what exactly is different about the enthusiasm for ‘Africa Rising’ this time around as compared to the similarly high expectations which followed independence, the end of the Cold War, and even the peak of China’s commodity super-cycle?

Enormous market power

The answer lies in Africa’s potential for greater intercontinental collaboration, its commitment to market liberalisation, internal trade, and its embrace of Fourth Industrial Revolution-inspired technological innovation. Africa holds extraordinary market power. Consider the fundamentals: by 2030, one in five people will be African and it comprises 20% of the planet’s landmass,

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IVOR AT LARGE Ivor ichikowitz

with an immense wealth of natural resources (including critically strategic minerals used in cutting-edge technologies). According to forecasts by the IMF, sub-Saharan Africa’s contribution to the global labour force will exceed that of the rest of the world combined by 2030. Further, the embrace of Fourth Industrial Revolution-inspired digital production technologies has enabled the breakout of local manufacturing to take shape in many emerging African markets. While traditionally, the continent has been a net consumer of the developed world’s technologies, Africans will no longer allow this dependency to stifle growth. The continent is beginning to embrace the benefits of technological innovation, including leveraging breakthroughs in 3D printing, mobile supercomputing, and cost-effective, portable manufacturing. There are, however, still massive risks and challenges for Africa to overcome. Many countries lack a basic capacity to properly provide the security and economic development enjoyed in other areas of the world. The continent is also economically fractured – splintered into

16 trade zones due to geographic challenges – leading to an enduring lack of policy coordination. Global conditions may also bode ill for the realisation of the African Century. Migration patterns are provoking a nationalist backlash in Europe and incidents of xenophobia across South Africa. Deepening conflict between the US and China threatens to depress global demand, while instability in the Middle East has knock-on effects in several crisis-prone areas of Africa. But there are far more encouraging trends which indicate that Africa is on the cusp of unlocking a new period of prosperity. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group highlights four encouraging

Below: Africa has embraced Fourth Industrial Revolution digital production technologies such as 3D printing

statistics. First, between 2006–2007 and 2015–2016, the amount of capital African firms invested in Africa itself increased from $3.7bn to $10bn. Second, during the same period, intraregional mergers and acquisitions jumped from 238 to 418. Third, average annual intra-African exports increased from $41bn to $65bn. Finally, the average number of African tourists travelling within Africa rose from 19m to 30m — accounting for almost half of all tourists on the continent. Now, consider the massive potential for growth if the continent is able to move towards the implementation of the recently-forged African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which all bar one of Africa’s 55 countries have signed up to, making it the largest free trade area since the WTO came into being. According to UNECA, Africa’s intra-regional trade is set to increase by $50 to $70bn by 2040 due to the removal of tariffs alone (a remarkable jump for such a short time-frame).

Battleground for foreign influence

It’s understandable that many Africans reflect on the new ‘Scramble for Africa’ as a form of economic colonisation. Foreign direct investment (FDI) initiatives have historically included the infamous ‘China Safari’ – multilateral projects in resource extraction and infrastructure development which have led to a debt trap for many of the continent’s potential power players. In 2012, the IMF found that China owned 15% of Africa’s external debt; three years later, roughly two-thirds of all new loans were coming from China. Or take Germany’s ‘Marshall Plan for Africa’, an agenda which includes the development of controlled production chains and the diversification of Africa’s economies, all accomplished under foreign control and disproportionate benefit. Africa has historically been a battleground for such influence and investment initiatives, enticing emerging market players such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (the BRICS).

This is why Vladimir Putin chaired the inaugural Russia-Africa Economic Forum in October. It is also why China maintains its position as a central player in Africa’s urbanisation and development, as a huge percentage of the continent’s infrastructure initiatives remain driven by Chinese companies or funding. It should be noted that the US has taken notice, launching an ambitious ‘Prosper Africa’ initiative, emphasising African FDI within a US President’s first term of office for the first time in decades. The UK also will likely court Africa in a bid to secure new trade deals after Brexit. However, the continent’s leaders are starting to rise to the challenges presented by this New World Order, driving for ‘win-win’ partnerships while addressing global challenges such as climate change, international trade barriers, and inequality. Their voices today carry increasing weight and resonance. It is further critical that the philanthropic community, particularly those with a vested interest in Africa’s future, follow suit. Today, philanthropic efforts are becoming more effective, especially when sourced domestically. Africa is self-addressing the critical challenges of its time, investing in financial inclusion, renewable energy, and intercontinental security. Leaders across the continent are striving to address poaching, terrorism, human and drug trafficking, and the arming of militias. Left unaddressed, these problems would imperil the stability and economic growth of the continent. There is work to be done amidst this shifting environment. Despite the complexity of the continent, Africa must develop a deeper understanding of its newfound role in global decision-making in this New World Order. Only then will Africans complete one of the great economic success stories of the 21st century.

Ivor Ichikowitz is an African industrialist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and Founder and Executive Chairman of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation (IFF). The views expressed here are his own.

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Lauded on the international stage, Ethiopia’s young and dynamic Prime Minister has received one of the world’s most prestigious honours for promoting peace – even while his country seethes with tensions and violence. Report by James Jeffrey.

Abiy’s painful hangover after Nobel glory


rimg Minister Abiy Ahmed had every reason to feel good when he woke on 11 October in the Ethiopian capital. Addis Ababa basked in the unrelenting sunshine that follows the rainy season, while at the same time it was announced to the world that the Nobel Peace Prize had been awarded to Abiy, the first Ethiopian to win. The prize committee praised Abiy’s “efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.” It also noted the whirlwind of domestic reforms in his first 100 days in power, including the lifting of the country’s state of emergency, the release of thousands of political prisoners, the relaxing of media censorship, the legalisation of outlawed opposition groups, his tackling of corruption, and the promotion of women in politics. But just days after the award, an anti-government protest rally that had been planned to take place in Addis Ababa was cancelled after the authorities declared it illegal. The government was accused of instigating a clampdown, with images of traffic held up at checkpoints around the city and along major roads to the capital flooding social media, along with reports of arbitrary arrests. Then, within two weeks, on 26 October, Abiy was having to address the country after a wave of violence erupted across Oromia, and further afield, leaving about 80 dead and even religious buildings destroyed. That swift escalation of unrest

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– after an altercation between the government and political activist Jawar Mohammed – highlighted the immense tensions prevalent in Ethiopia and the hugely complex challenges Abiy faces. A fact that even the Nobel committee didn’t – or couldn’t – shy away from. “Many challenges remain unresolved,” they noted. “Ethnic strife continues to escalate, and we have seen troubling examples of this in recent weeks and months. No doubt some will think this year’s prize is being awarded too early.”

False dawn After the jubilation that greeted the resolution with Eritrea, with the border opening for the first time in 20 years, the current situation indicates Abiy has not delivered what was initially hoped for. “The peace deal unfroze diplomatic relations, reopened telephone lines, and has allowed some travel between the two countries,” says William Davison, International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Ethiopia. “But key border disputes are unresolved, and Eritrea remains without constitutional government, so there has been no peace dividend yet for its long-suffering citizens.” Similarly, recognition of Abiy as a peace maker in Ethiopia is looking increasingly tenuous to many Ethiopians. By the end of last year, the country’s internally displaced persons – many forced to move by conflict – had reached nearly 2.4m, with estimates closer to 3m now. Abiy and the government are also facing increasing criticism for

repeating the authoritarian ways of previous Ethiopian governments of containing dissenting voices, including the ongoing implementation of a controversial Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to stifle dissent and gag the likes of journalists and opposition figures. “There’s been a massive crackdown on political opposition,” says Dessalegn Channie, chairman of the National Movement of Amhara (NaMA) opposition party. “Thousands have been arrested and put in military camps. The world has no idea of recent developments.” 

The lid’s off now Concerns are mounting over the unintended consequences of Abiy opening the political space in Ethiopia so swiftly. It is argued his reforms have given breathing room to ethnic-based ambitions that his more repressive predecessors kept in check. Increasing numbers of ethnic parties have emerged, many with an openly bigoted message, playing on historic grievances between different ethnic groups and reigniting territorial border disputes that have fanned so much internecine tension and conflict.   Furthermore, Ethiopia’s 1995 constitution ascribed broad rights of ‘self-determination’ to each of the country’s nine regions, including being able to secede from the arrangement if they felt their rights were being curtailed. Hence the country’s current ethnic tremors have observers noting the strong parallels with Yugoslavia in the 1990s, where a federal state organised along similar lines broke

up over similar tensions. Oromo protests by the country’s largest ethnic group have emboldened calls by many for an independent Oromia to break away from Ethiopia. There has long been talk of Tigray independence, added to which the powerful Tigray old guard that once dominated the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) are seething, resentful of the way they are being displaced. The northern Amhara region is also witnessing growing nationalism. At the same time, there are groups calling for intra-regional secession. This year has seen demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of ethnic Sidama demanding a referendum to determine regional status for their ethnic community, one of the largest language speaking groups in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR). All the while, ethnic militias like the one that carried out the suspected regional coup in Amhara in June have sprung up, often with links to regime figures, influencing them from the shadows. “Armed groups are resorting to violence to take over local governments or to intimidate [other

ethnicities] from settling in the same area,” Dessalegn says.

Economic Achilles heel Since 2000, Ethiopia has undergone what many have called an economic miracle, with GDP increasing on average almost 10% per year. But the ongoing conflict risks imperilling this, frightening off the likes of foreign investors as well as impeding domestic production and thereby reducing the capacity to generate crucial jobs for Ethiopia’s enormous youth, potentially creating a vicious cycle linking unrest and unemployment. “The country cannot afford a long economic slowdown due to its poverty, bulging population – around 40m people out of a total of 100m are under 15 – and volatile political crisis,” says Davison, noting that despite the economic gains, Ethiopia ranks 17th among the world’s least-developed countries.   “His main failure has been not building institutional reform,” Dessalegn says of Abiy. “He has

Below: Oromos gather in Meskel Square, Addis Ababa on the eve of the Irreecha Festival in early October, celebrated to thank Waaqa (God) for blessings received throughout the previous year

changed the people at the top – putting in good people – but without the necessary political will, they are not able to do anything.” Dessalegn remembers the huge support Abiy received when he came to power from different ethnic groups – especially the Amhara – indicating that Ethiopians are “ready and fertile” for truly inclusive democracy and “willing to support the man who will deliver it.” But, as Dessalegn acknowledges, Abiy is just one man against myriad groups competing against him and in their own interests. “In Ethiopia, everything is based on ethnicity; it’s the first thing people think about – it is even on your ID card,” said Obang Metho, founder and executive director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, a local civic organisation that promotes dialogue to achieve change. “Changing a country planned on ethnicity will take a lot.” Hence, as for previous political winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, Abiy’s greatest challenges are likely still ahead. “This award should push and motivate him to tackle the outstanding human rights challenges that threaten to reverse the gains made so far,” says Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo. NA

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South Africa’s unexpected victory in the Rugby World Cup in Japan unleashed waves of euphoria and a spirit of togetherness in the country, but can the feel-good factor it has brought in its wake transfer to the struggling economy? Mushtak Parker reports.

Can South Africa cash in on feel-good factor?


hether by coincidence or design, November 2019 proved to be the month that South Africa enjoyed some temporary relief from the doom and gloom that has engulfed the country over the last few years.

South Africa’s captain Siya Kolisi holds the World Cup trophy aloft during the team’s open-top-bus victory parade through Zwide, his home town

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The difficulties have included economic woes that have seen GDP growth stagnate at a projected 0.7% this year, projected to rise to 1.6% in 2020; the longest-ever downward business cycle, lasting 67 months, and high adult unemployment, with youth joblessness at above 50%; to name a few. Then there are the political and social fault lines which still dog the Rainbow Nation after 25 years of rule by the ANC – corruption, violent crime, domestic violence, entrenched inequality and a lack of racial unity and cohesion. If ever a people was desperately in need of a high, it is South Africa’s long-suffering 57m population, for many of whom freedom from

the shackles of Apartheid in 1994 has failed to deliver the anticipated economic and social upliftment. That high materialised a few thousand miles away at the Yokohama Rugby Stadium in Japan on 2 November when the South African Springboks won the 2019 Rugby World Cup, demolishing England by 32-12 in the process. The symbolism of a Black South African captain, Siya Kolisi, lifting the World Cup for the first time, will forever be one of world sport’s iconic moments, transcending a mere rugby match – important as it was for the players – to embrace the legacy, hope and aspirations of a nation. Lest we all get carried away by the euphoria of the occasion,

the question remains – whether this ‘redemptive’ sporting triumph can indeed deliver the political, social and economic dividends and long-lasting ‘feel-good’ factor that the optimists and soothsayers are hoping for? “The ‘feel-good’ factor is real enough,” suggests Michael Morris of the Johannesburg-based think tank, the Institute of Race Relations, “but is misperceived by politicians – both as a sentiment, and as an opportunity. South Africa is not a riven or fractured society; most people want the same things, are respectful and have a genuine sense of South African-ness as [being] a condition of shared fate. The World Cup win was a rare public demonstration of the sentiment, but also of the possibility.” This sense of South Africanness and unity of spirit could not have been more aptly put by Kolisi after the game: “We have so many problems in our country, but a team like this … we come from different backgrounds, different races, but we came together with one goal and we wanted to achieve it. I have never seen South Africa like this. We were playing for the people back home. We can achieve anything if we work together as one.” On the eve of the World Cup final, Moody’s Investors Service did President Ramaphosa and his Finance Minister Tito Mboweni no service by following Fitch Ratings to affirm South Africa’s long-term foreign and local currency debt ratings as ‘Baa3’ (investment grade) but also, downgrading the outlook to negative from stable. While praising “South Africa’s deep, stable financial sector and robust macroeconomic policy framework”, and the South African Reserve Bank’s “good track record in implementing credible and effective monetary policy and preserving financial stability”, Moody’s warned about “the material risk that the government will not succeed in arresting the deterioration of its finances through a revival in economic growth and fiscal consolidation measures.” In other words, the government has made modest progress in some areas but substantive “economic

reforms have to be implemented without delay”.

Rallying the troops Mboweni, in response, was in rallying-the-troops mode, preempting the unity-of-spirit sentiments of Kolisi a day later. The World Cup win was a godsend and the timing of the Second South Africa Investment Forum (SAIF 2019) in Johannesburg on the theme “Accelerating Economic Growth by Building Partnerships” four days later was ideal. In his keynote address, President Cyril Ramaphosa could not resist

Below: Mark Alexander (l), President of the South African Rugby Union, and Rassie Erasmus (r), South Africa’s head coach, pose for a photo as Springboks captain Siya Kolisi (2nd l) and President Cyril Ramaphosa (2nd r) hold the Webb Ellis Trophy, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria

“We come from different backgrounds, different races, but we came together with one goal...We can achieve anything if we work together as one.” welcoming “all our international guests to South Africa, the home of the champions of world rugby.” His Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa had revealed that several Japanese and other foreign investors, spurred on by the rugby triumph, were now attending SAIF 2019. Indeed, attendance was up on the inaugural SAIF in 2018, with delegates from 22 countries. A jubilant or perhaps relieved Ramaphosa in his closing speech at SAIF, revealed that “the total value of investment commitments made today at our Second South Africa

Investment Conference is R363bn ($24.6bn), with a further R8bn in planned investments that are subject to either regulatory or company board approvals.” This is 17% higher than the commitments made in 2018. The stated target over the next five years is to attract R1.2 trillion ($0.08tn) worth of commitments. Rugby has always had a special place in the South African psyche, and its successful transformation has only enhanced that status. “South Africans, like any other people,” adds Morris, “love success, and if rugby delivers it, rugby gains support as the deliverer of good things. In many ways, the country is making constant progress in being what most people want it to be; a successful society in which all South Africans belong, in which they succeed on their merits, and achieve what they dream of. The primary impediment to this process is government hostility to the very agencies capable of helping society achieve its best.” Others such as Mo Allie, a respected local writer, contend that the economic transformation and development of South Africa is always going to play a key role in the true transformation of sport, particularly technical codes like rugby, cricket and athletics, where gym work, nutrition, etc. is important. “As long as people don’t have jobs and facilities in the townships, opportunities will be restricted to those who get scholarships to wellresourced former White schools,” he says. The Springboks triumph, especially the composition of the team and officials, heralds a new dawn for rugby. This was a team selected on merit, not including ‘quota’ candidates or beneficiaries of a policy that might exclude players who could be ranked better. The likes of Kolisi, Kolbe, Mapimpi, etc. are world-class in their own right.  But as Morris maintains: “Without far-reaching policy reforms that grow the economy and widen opportunities, millions of South Africans – however inspired they might be by successes in the sporting arena – will remain economic outsiders through no fault of their own.” NA

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C o m m u n i q u é

In June 2020, the United Nations General Assembly will vote to elect five non-permanent members to sit on the Security Council for two years. Djibouti has an excellent case for being elected to take the seat reserved for an African nation, as the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, explains in this interview.

Why Djibouti is making a bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, 2021-22 Can you outline the geo-strategic importance of Djibouti in the region? As you may know, Djibouti is located at the entry of the Red Sea on the world’s busiest shipping route, namely the Bab elMandeb strait, through which more than 30% of world trade is channelled, making it highly sensitive from a security point of view. To put it another way, my country connects three continents – Africa, Asia and Europe – as well as the Middle East. The Bab el-Mandeb is only 20 miles wide between Djibouti and Yemen, a war-torn nation. Djibouti is a gateway for a number of landlocked African countries such as Ethiopia, South Sudan, Rwanda and beyond. Our country is already almost the only outlet for 90 % of Ethiopia’s maritime trade. As Djiboutian leaders, we are strongly aware of our country’s unique strategic position in Africa and in the world at large. That is the reason why Djibouti has engaged in a very pragmatic form of diplomacy that has resulted in good relations with all world powers, no matter what their ideological positions or aims are. In short, Djibouti aspires to become not only a world-renowned commercial, logistics, and financial services hub but also a deployment centre for counterterrorism, anti-piracy and humanitarian intervention.

Djibouti has engaged in a very pragmatic form of diplomacy that has resulted in good relations with all world powers, no matter what their ideological positions

As a member of the International Authority on Development (IGAD), how has Djibouti contributed politically to important questions of peace and development in the region? Let me remind you that Djibouti is the only country which has preserved its political stability in a very volatile region for the last three decades or so. The central government in Somalia collapsed in 1991. In 1998, a devastating war broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Yemen has experienced political turmoil since 1994. The current war in Yemen broke out nearly five years ago. Since then, Djibouti has welcomed more than 60,000 Yemeni refugees, struggling with internal and external armed conflicts. The military weakness in our region and the lack of stability drove terrorism as well as piracy to the region. That’s why Djibouti has signed military agreements with several world powers to secure the Bab el-Mandeb strait and, therefore, avoid a serious disruption in global trade. Furthermore, Djibouti has been keen on restoring peace in Somalia. Soon after President Guelleh was elected, in 1999, Djibouti hosted the Somalia National Peace Conference in Arta, which was a successful move. Since then Djibouti has been participating in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). More

Above: The Doraleh Container Terminal. Located 5km west of Djibouti City, it is the most technologically advanced container port on the African continent.

The AU’s nomination of Kenya oversteps rules of rotation On 22 August, African Union (AU) member states nominated Kenya over Djibouti to represent Africa on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The AU’s nomination of Kenya was not only unprecedented, but overstepped existing principles of rotation. The AU should have considered the principles of rotation, used by many international organisations to determine bids. These principles rely on two major criteria: recency and frequency of service on the UNSC. Both criteria support Djibouti’s bid, not Kenya’s. By calling out this major irregularity, Djibouti is asking the AU to respect and follow the rule of law. It is not too late for the AU to correct this in June 2020, when its members will have the chance to vote for Djibouti as their representative at the United Nations General Assembly. Neither the executive nor the summit of the AU are bound by the outcome of such a flawed process.

than 2,000 Djiboutian troops have been deployed in Somalia to help stabilise troublesome areas in the Hiiraan region. Djibouti is also involved in mediation between conflicting parties in Southern Sudan. The IGAD special envoy to Southern Sudan, Ambassador Ismail Wais, is a Djiboutian citizen, working hard to bridge the gap between the stakeholders in this brother country. Therefore, Djibouti is naturally promoting its bid to serve as a non-permanent member at the Security Council for the period 2021-22.

How has the expanding free zone in Djibouti contributed to trade and development and what is the potential for Djibouti’s further role in trade and politics for a more global reach? Djibouti’s International Free Trade Zone, around 4,000 hectares in size, will be the biggest of its kind in Africa. The project, scheduled for completion in a decade, will cost $3.5bn. The Zone enables users to operate without paying property, income, dividend or value-added taxes. As President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti said at the inauguration ceremony, the Free Trade area is a ‘’Zone of hope for thousands of young jobseekers.’’ Indeed, the Free Trade area has the potential to create around 200,000 jobs, once the project is complete.

Election of non-permanent members of the UN Security Council The United Nations Security Council is one of the six main organs of the United Nations and has responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. It has the power to establish peace-keeping missions, impose international sanctions and authorise military actions. The body has five permanent members (Russia, France, China, the UK and the US) and 10 non-permanent members. Each member has a vote, although only the permanent members can veto a resolution. The nonpermanent members are elected for periods of two years, with one seat allocated to each of the regional blocs represented in the General Assembly: Africa; the Asia-Pacific Group; Latin America and the Caribbean; and Western Europe and Others. The next election of non-permanent members will take place at the 74th session of the General Assembly in June 2020, and the successful candidates will take up their seats for two years from 1 January 2021.


The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) has published a very timely report on the progress – or lack of it – on the road to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015. Baffour Ankomah reviews the report.

Some progress on SDGs, but still a long way to go – ACBF report


our years after world leaders adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets in September 2015, and called them ‘Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), the African Union’s specialised agency for capacity building on the continent, has issued a new report tracking Africa’s progress on the road to 2030; as one would expect, the conclusion is a mixed bag. “Life has improved for many Africans in the past 20 years,” the report says, “but there is a growing sense that progress was slower than it could have been and that a business-as-usual approach is not likely to lead to the achievement of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” To determine what African countries need to do to promote inclusive, sustainable development within the context of the SDGs, the ACBF led a ground-breaking study that analysed Africa’s capacities and identified areas for strengthening capacity and capacity-enabling approaches for a range of stakeholders, including international partners. The study led to the new report, titled Capacity Imperatives for the SDGS: In line with the African Union Agenda 2063. A brainchild of the ACBF Executive Secretary, Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie, and executed by the ACBF’s Knowledge and Learning Department, the report offers policymakers a new

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The ACBF’s new report, titled Capacity Imperatives for the SDGs: In Line with the African Union Agenda 2063

approach to development – one that puts Africans in the driver’s seat. It shows how countries can improve people’s lives in ways that are consistent with the ACBF’s vision of an Africa capable of achieving its own development. Supported financially by ACBF member countries, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank, and produced in collaboration with and under guidance from the AU Commission, as well as other organisations including UNECA, NEPAD, AfDB and the UN system in Africa, the report was officially launched in Accra, Ghana, on 26 November at a ceremony presided over by Hon. Yaw OsafoMarfo, Senior Minister of Ghana.

Extensive survey In many ways, the report is a call to action by African countries. The study that informs it was carried out in 11 African countries

– Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and Zambia. They were drawn from Africa’s five regions and represented different economy sizes, languages, and access to the sea. A key message of the report is that limited human and institutional capacity in Africa constitutes a serious obstacle to implementation of national development goals. Implementation agencies, sectors, and ministries often lack people with the skills they need to achieve results, and public resource allocation decisions are not always coherently determined. Most African countries also lack the political will to see national development strategies through to the end, involve too few non-state actors in decision making, fail to fully engage youth and women in implementing actions related to the SDGs, and rely too much on foreign financial support and technical assistance. Also, very little research addresses development challenges, while the alignment of planning and budgeting instruments with the priorities set forth in national development plans is limited. The report identifies the capacities that African countries need in order to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the SDGs to build economies that can sustain their development aspirations. It offers policymakers a new approach to development which seeks to re-energise Africans with the spirit of working together towards collective prosperity, a common destiny under a united

and strong Africa, by building a set of transformative capacities that reinforce a new sense of identity and create a new culture of selfdetermination and results.

way to create business opportunities for the private sector in their own countries. Africa’s private sector needs to do the same,” the report advocates.

Other key messages emerging from the report include the following: Developmental goals, like those articulated in the SDGs and Agenda 2063, need to be integrated into both national development plans and shorter-term expenditure frameworks. That is where implementation of development projects actually takes place, as is evident in countries’ budgeting and expenditure patterns. Government departments should recognise the need to increase private sector participation in the implementation of the SDGs, because the successful implementation and sustainability of development programmes rest on the full participation of stakeholders, including potential beneficiaries, academia, innovators, local communities, entrepreneurs, the business community, industrialists, financiers, investors, service providers, and women and youth groups. The report found that not all African governments see the SDGs as an opportunity to involve the private sector and other relevant stakeholders. It therefore recommends that additional efforts are needed to shift perceptions of the SDGs from solely a socioeconomic and developmental responsibility of governments to citizens to an opportunity to engage private business in achieving the goals. The private sector, too, needs to reorient its thinking, the report urges. “Businesses still see their involvement in development largely in the context of their corporate social responsibility activities,” the report explains. “Instead, they need to see the SDGs as a business opportunity that reconciles the objectives of their core business activities and the developmental aspirations of the communities in which they live and do business. Africa’s development partners have already made this shift in orientation, seeing development cooperation as a

Dichotomy in perceptions Still a major challenge remains: “There is a dichotomy,” the report regrets, “between what African countries identify as their priorities and what their development partners are prepared to support, exposing the challenge of ownership of the development agenda. Whereas African countries

The report determines what Africa needs to do to promote inclusive, sustainable development within the context of the SDGs. generally favour budget support grants that are disbursed and managed within their own systems, bilateral partners have not yet warmed to this approach. The same can be said for concessional public funding grants, concessional loans, and aid for trade arrangements.” The report underlines the fact that “more Africans and their governments now believe that the SDG agenda will advance more successfully if it is funded principally by domestic rather than external resources.”  In the introduction of the report, Prof. Nnadozie reminds the continent that “Africa’s

A skills audit is needed in Africa to identify deficits in the number of professionals required to promote an effective agenda for change

transformation agenda requires strong leadership and political vision; effective regional, subregional, and country institutions; competent staff; and inclusive multi-stakeholder collaboration.” To him, four sets of capacities need strengthening: operational capacity for organisations; change and transformative capacities; composite capacities (planning, facilitating, managing, and financing); and critical, technical, and sector-specific skills.” As a way forward, ACBF proposes to support more African countries in conducting in-depth assessments of national capacity imperatives for implementing the SDGs. It will do so by coordinating efforts, through joint partnerships, to develop a capacity strengthening programme for African countries for achieving the SDGs within the framework of Agenda 2063. As such, the programme needs support from African governments, the AU Commission, development partners and key organisations such as UNECA, NEPAD, AfDB, and the UN system in Africa. In the spirit of regional integration, ACBF has pledged to support Africa’s five regional blocks to carry out a comprehensive skills audit to identify deficits in the number of professionals required to promote an effective change and transformation agenda. ACBF will mainstream the needed shift in mindset and move the discussion of readiness and transformation to the top of policy debates. The Foundation will also emphasise the need for a new tripartite discussion platform for academia, the private sector, and governments on education and employable skill priorities. “Our mission is to build strategic partnerships, offer technical support, and provide access to relevant knowledge for capacity building in Africa,” Prof Nnadozie wrote in the Introduction of the report. “This report helps achieve that mission by providing countries with a comprehensive set of capacity development priorities for meeting the continental development goals in a way that benefits all Africans. NA january 2020 New African 63

The UK’s general election, set for 12 December, will be the most portentous in most of our lifetimes and its import will affect our children and their children. But diaspora Africans can mould the shape of politics to come, both as leaders and voters.

12December, D-Day for Black UK


he tragic-comic farce which British politics has become over the last three years will reach its climax in a general election on 12 December. That, at least, is what the politicians of the various parties who voted for it seem to want. The campaign, which was launched ominously on the eve of Halloween, when ghoulies and ghosties roam the land, will reach its culmination in the run-in to the traditional pantomime season (though this parliamentary pantomime rarely seems to end). With enough false shepherds to lead their flocks into a new massacre of the innocents, politicians are already promising voters gifts, the like of which would cause the minds of the nativity Wise Men to boggle. In this mood, the destiny of the nation will be decided – our future, and that of our children and grand-children. Among the various sub-plots is the fact that it is probably the first general election in which Africans can play the decisive hand. Yes, I did really write that. Let us look at what has been achieved already, and what can be achieved further. Gina Miller, the Guyana-born

lawyer, has stood out as the one public figure of courage and integrity against a particularly pusillanimous generation of law-makers. She stopped Boris Johnson in his tracks in the Supreme Court as he tried to override Parliament, making Her Majesty his play-thing in the process, as politicians sought ways to accommodate his will to power while seeking to save their own constituency seats. It is no surprise that there has been an on-line attempt to crowd-fund the fee for a hit-man to assassinate Ms Miller. That is the cowardly tribute weakness pays to moral strength. Africans are prominent on the other side of the argument as well. Priti Patel, whose parents are Ugandan Asians, as Home Secretary has her finger on the pulse of several of the most contentious social controversies. While she is certainly determined, she is not regarded as being particularly sympathetic. Like several of her cabinet colleagues, she is not seen to ‘do’ compassion. Kwasi Kwarteng of Ghanaian parents, well-off, Cambridge-educated and likened by a local paper to a “Black Boris”, has been on TV and radio as a spokesman for a hard interpretation of the

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Brexit argument. When affluence speaks to affluence it has produced, surprisingly, a substantial degree of support from the least affluent. Chuka Umunna and Sam Gyimah, both with West African parentage, have re-shaped the image of the Liberal Democrats, a party which has been strong on inter-cultural sympathy but weak on inclusion, by joining from Labour and the Conservatives respectively. They will see whether the move to pastures new will be rewarded by the electorate. It is a litmus test. With success they could redefine the complexion of centre politics, but failure could set back the process and re-set the former boundaries. Both, however, are favoured by the broadcasting media and should not fail through lack of exposure. The North London socialist coterie of David Lammy, Dawn Butler and Diane Abbott should surf to triumph on the wave of metropolitan popular enthusiasm.

The UK’s general election is probably the first in which Africans can play the decisive hand.

African perspectives are critical

If Brexit can be set to one side – as it was two years ago to the chagrin and disadvantage of then Prime Minister Theresa May – the issues which demand attention will be those which affect the African population to a considerable degree. The public inquiry report into the Grenfell Tower fire, in which many of the victims were of a cosmopolitan background, has just been published. It will be fresh in the mind, while the injustices of the ‘Windrush’ generation have never been out of it since the furore broke. If Africans do not stand up with righteous indignation and get to the polling stations, whatever the winter

Gina Miller, the Guyana-born lawer, who successfully stopped PM Boris Johnson in his tracks in the Supreme Court as he sought to prevent the UK’s Parliament from fully debating Brexit developments in the autumn

weather may be, they will not have another chance in this generation (no, perhaps, in any other). Windrush and Grenfell Tower have provided more than images of victims. Black advocates have come forward to state their case – and state it rather well. Immediately prior to penning this piece I watched Natasha Elcock, chair of Grenfell United, speaking direct to the television cameras and to the hearts and minds of the public. Africans do not have to rely on European sympathisers, their own soi-disant ‘leaders’ (who are not even household names in their own households), imported Americans, or amorphous public servants to advocate their cause. Africans are not speaking for just their own community. The huge pro-Remain and ecologist Extinction Rebellion demonstrations have shown the blending of all strains of British society: we are indeed “all in this together” – at least on one side of the argument – as we shall be when this election is settled. Africans, the poor, women and dissidents will be first in the firing-line for whatever goes wrong. Though living on the borders of the city I frequently visit our daughter and her family in South London (Brixton) and our son and his wife in North London (Walthamstow). I am impressed by how it is the more cosmopolitan neighbourhoods, with a substantial African population inter-acting in harmony with those around them, that have grasped most comprehensively the international intricacies of modern living. Primarily because they do have a life, however lacking in certain respects, they are less affected by the (false) nostalgic twaddle to which the May/Johnson government and its compliant media have been prone.

Life beyond politics

A disappointing side-effect of having to report on Brexit and all its works is that I have had to omit, or play down, other worthy stories. These include the record achievements in the marathon, memorable performances in the World Athletics Championships, and a Rugby Union

World Cup Final involving South Africa and an England team with African players (which of course, as all sports loving African will know, was won decisively by South Africa). Admittedly these did not happen in London but they were seen on our televisions and inspired the population here. Nevertheless, the record will not be lost as surely our enthusiastic and sympathetic editor will include at least some of them among the year’s Top 100 Africans list. [See ‘Most Influential Africans’, p. 14.] For this edition I had intended, on the 25th anniversary of his passing, writing on the life of the groundbreaking medic Dr David Pitt. Born in Grenada, Dr Pitt was sufficiently adept at his profession to be appointed President of the British Medical Council and so concerned for the social welfare of the poor that, when such things were as rare as snow in August, he challenged twice for a Parliamentary seat on behalf of Labour. He was unsuccessful – racism was a prime feature of the campaign against him – but he took on his opponents on their ground and almost brought it off. David Pitt was elevated to the House of Lords and became the first African to chair the Greater London Council. So, we are squared up for the election. Will the perceived dithering and lack of strategic acumen of Jeremy Corbyn, and the fantasy failings of Jo Swinson, his two principal opponents (the proverbial ‘turkeys voting for Christmas’), who have missed opportunities to score against a government in disarray, confirm Boris Johnson in his belief in a birth-given right to rule? Has Nigel Farage’s gloss turned to dross without the continued burnish of sycophantic media commentators? Or is it all indeed a fantasy, the result of which will turn out quite otherwise? The date, 12 December, has historic import which is not re-assuring. On this date in 1653, the so-called Barebone’s Parliament, surrendered its independence and integrity to Oliver Cromwell’s ‘protectorate’. Happy Christmas and yes, a prosperous New Year.

december 2019/january 2020 New African 65

JO’BURG DIARY Like millions of Africans who leave their traditional homes in the countryside to migrate to the cities, our columnist finds herself caught in the dilemma of trying to plant a new home without roots.

Kelebogile Motswatswa

Home is where the music is


or many Johannesburg denizens — including those who migrate to the City of Gold from small towns — leaving home is a signifier of success and coming of age. It symbolises some kind of transition from the known to the unknown, into a place where you’re forced to forge meaning in the frantic bustle of Jozi Maboneng, the City of Lights. This city; it illuminates not only our career aspirations and propensity towards greatness but also the fluidity of the meaning of home. The common understanding of home is that it’s “where the heart is”; when considered purely in linguistic terms, home is a place where you don’t have to question who you are; it is where you are known and understood; it is the centre of belonging and the locus of steady identity. But, what happens when you are forced to leave home in pursuit of material gain, to make a better life for yourself or support your relatives because you’re the first and only graduate in your family? Or you have to leave home for your own sanity and to escape the clutches of dysfunction? What happens when you realise that, in fact, home is not where the

heart is; it is where its shards are, so your feet bleed as you navigate your way from one memory to the next; passing bygone days of abuse and neglect, making a pit stop to rest in the emptiness of unholy arms that are too weak to rock you back and forth. And at the thought of home, you hear deafening screams of unanswered prayers and broken promises; as we approach the festive season, many find themselves having to prepare themselves to return to homes that haven’t been home for a very long time. After many conversations with Jo’burg friends of varying backgrounds, I noticed how at the end of every year, when it’s time to unite with our families, most of us have to deal with the reality of being visitors in places that we once called home. And it’s a complex process because, for many, Jo’burg is so far from being home. We spend so much of our time here chasing gold, but there comes a point where one realises that the corporate ladder does not have enough rungs to fill the void or soothe the wounds of the battle to make ends meet. The striving for recognition and wading through the waters of White privilege, systemic

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racism and structural violence add to the sense of “unhome” that a life in Jo’burg begets.

The home in the ‘unbelonging’

World-renowned South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela’s 1972 album, Home Is Where the Music Is, changed my perspective on the concept of home, completely. After years of battling with this idea of home and feeling like I don’t have one, the title of that album helped me reimagine home. As a fervent melomaniac – a person with great enthusiasm for music – who exemplifies music’s power to impact one’s neurological structure, I have found in music what many will associate with home: stability, tranquillity and liberty. Music affords the sense of belonging I never thought I would ever have. I have come to realise that home isn’t something that is static and categorical; this might sound trite but the truth is that home is whatever you want and need it to be and this approach is critical for those of us who’ve had to cut ties with our first homes in pursuit of greener pastures. And while we leave for new opportunities, we cannot afford to leave behind us this notion of

Below: Middle-class Black Africans can be left feeling isolated in some local spaces, if they are not considered Black enough – for example, if they speak English habitually and the language being used is isiZulu or Sesotho

Trumpeter Hugh Masekela’s “Home Is Where the Music Is” changed my perspective on the concept of home – completely. stability that home represents because the respite is much needed, especially in a city like Jo’burg where rest and recuperation are viewed as luxuries that only belong to the dead. The feeling of stability and belonging requires intentionality and commitment to the self. Making the decision to commit to self in a city that is the epicentre of capitalism, is an act of rebellion, but a worthy endeavour nonetheless.

Redefining home

If home is about restoration, we need to be determined to create homes in this desolate city so that we can effectively contribute to the wellbeing of society. It’s so easy to forget that we are actually human, especially in a system that manipulates us into believing that there is no room for our personhood on the path to success. My hope is that young people in Jo’burg, who find themselves having to redefine the meaning of home for their own survival and psychological wellbeing, would approach the exercise with the same vehemence they use to contribute to economic and social change. I hope that in our mission to shatter glass ceilings and make room for ourselves in spaces that were designed to prevent us from living purpose-driven lives, we would step off the cracked ledge and come home to ourselves, to compassion and to the music. Wherever it is, my hope is that we’d come home because without belonging, there is no being.

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A fascinating exhibition of previously unseen photographs of Uganda’s maverick dictator, Idi Amin, who unleashed a reign of terror during his eight years in power in the 1970s, has attracted tens of thousands of viewers in Kampala. Bamuturaki Musinguzi reports.

The unseen pictures of

Idi Amin


he previously unseen photos of Idi Amin at this exhibition, in a jolly mood playing his favourite music instrument, the accordion, cutting a cake on his birthday, receiving foreign dignitaries, boxing and swimming, juxtaposed with those portraying death, sadness, uncertainty, and the arrest and prosecution of profiteers and hoarders, represents the different dimensions in which Ugandans experienced the dictator’s decadelong regime. The selection of black and white photographs from the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) archives depicts joy and merrymaking, love, celebrations, the performing arts, sports, smuggling, public executions and floggings, as well as the fear and misery, of everyday life in Uganda in the 1970s. Idi Amin overthrew President Milton Obote in January 1971 and his eight-year Presidency was the subject of hundreds of thousands of photographs. A dedicated and talented team of photographers under the Ministry of Information followed Amin, taking pictures of the dictator in a variety of settings, public and private. Amin lost power in April 1979, following the war between Uganda and Tanzania in 1978-79, and was replaced by Yusuf Lule. Amin went into exile in Saudi Arabia until his

death in 2003. The exhibition, entitled ‘The Unseen Archive of Idi Amin’ opened at the Uganda Museum in Kampala on 18 May, in a showing lasting until December. It is curated by Nelson Abiti (ethnographer, Uganda Museum), Dr Derek R. Peterson (Professor of History and African Studies, University of Michigan, US), Edgar C. Taylor, and Richard Vokes, Associate Professor at the University of Western Australia. According to the curators, for decades it was thought that the photographs the Ministry of Information had made were lost to posterity – destroyed during the tumult of the early 1980s or misplaced during subsequent relocations of the Ministry’s archives. In 2015, though, researchers and archivists at the UBC uncovered a fi ling cabinet full of thousands of photographic negatives. Each envelope was carefully labelled with information about the date and subject of the photograph. In all, there are 70,000 negatives, dating from the late 1950s to the mid1980s. “So far as we know, none of the photographic negatives in the UBC archive have been published or displayed in any public venue. The vast majority of the negatives were never printed. It has until now, [been] an unseen archive,” the

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curators say. In January 2018, UBC launched a project to digitise this important collection. With funding and technical support from Makerere University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Western Australia, the dedicated team of archivists has digitised 25,000 images to date. The exhibition consists of 200 photographs drawn from the much larger collection held by UBC. “All of these photographs were made to glorify President Amin, elevate the accomplishments of his presidency, and make visible the iniquities of the enemies – both real and imagined – that his government pursued,” say the curators.

Right: President Idi Amin giving citizenship to British officials on 29 September 1975

Unique insight “These photographs testify to the passions and enthusiasms that his government cultivated. The archive also includes many pictures of everyday public and cultural life in 1970s Uganda. It provides a unique insight into how the Amin years were experienced by ordinary Ugandans, how people worked, played, and loved during this time,” the curators add. The photographs on display are unaltered and unedited. Where possible, the curators have titled the photographs using the same wording assigned by the photographers at the time the



negatives were developed. The timeline on display juxtaposes the grandiose and impressive images of Amin’s presidency – shown in the top row – with images which show the intimate occasions that also feature in the archive (in a middle row). According to the curators, as the photos depict, the 1970s were also a time of cultural creativity, a time for love, music, and new life. But for many Ugandans, the 1970s were also a violent, dangerous time. The curators say there are no photos of people being tortured, or assassinated, or kidnapped. “So in the bottom row of the timeline, we have placed the photographs of individuals, organised according to the date on which they were murdered. This is our attempt to highlight the horror that was occurring at the same time as the celebrations organised by the state.” According to the curators, there is very little in the UBC photo archive that directly illustrates the awful history of violence and inhumanity in the 1970s. As many as 300,000 people died at the hands of men serving Amin’s government. This violence – the torture and murder of dissidents, criminals, and others who innocently fell afoul of the state – largely took place out of public view. It goes unrecorded in the UBC archive. “The positive and uplifting photos in this collection mask the harsh realities of public life at this time: unaccountable violence; a collapsing infrastructure; and shortages of the most basic commodities. As curators, we have made efforts throughout this exhibition to remind you, the viewer, that for many Ugandans the 1970s were a violent, perilous time. But this archive cannot tell that story with any fluency.” Speaking at the opening ceremony of the exhibition earlier this year, Prof. Vokes, said: “The exhibition that you see here today is the culmination of many months of work, and has benefited from the knowledge and expertise, and also from the sheer hard work, of a large number of people. However, what has really held the whole project together has been the three strands 70 new african january 2020


of: the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation; the Uganda Museum; and the international partners.” On the role of the UBC, Prof. Vokes noted: “Ever since the Ministry of Information first began setting up official media units – with the creation of the Photographic Section, in 1945; Radio Uganda, in 1953; and Uganda Television, in the early 60s – the various entities of what eventually became the UBC have played a key role in recording all aspects of Uganda’s public life. Over time, the masses of photographs, radio reels, and video tapes that these recordings constituted became the largest, and most important, archive for Ugandan history.” One can only hope that other African countries take their cue from Uganda and try to unearth old or neglected photographs of past ages, so that the true picture of Africa can be assembled. “The first public presentation on display [consists of]... about 120 pictures covering aspects of the Amin regime and public life in Uganda in the 1970s, out of a total of 70,000 images which are in the possession of and [under] copyright to UBC,” Prof. Vokes told NA. “The importance of this exhibition is to have a public

Above: President Idi Amin playing the accordion at Buvuma Island in October 1971 Right: Chinese delegates and Idi Amin (2nd r) join a Ugandan dance

conversation about this period in Uganda’s history – clearly a troubled period in many ways, in which up to 300,000 people lost their lives. So the curators of the show employed several strategies to portray the trauma and suffering of ordinary Ugandans during that period. Yet the photos taken together also show the ways in which Ugandans enjoyed themselves through sports, music and the arts in general,” he added. “The biggest mystery about this exhibition is why these photos were taken in the first place. The Amin regime kept a photographic team that took... pictures and they were never printed and published but kept in a drawer,” Dr Peterson told NA. “My answer is speculative. I think the Amin government and Amin himself thought that everything they did was historically important and it had to be remembered. And so the reason that the photographs were important [was] the people would not forget what their regime did for the country,” he argued. “Why take photos and not print them? These were not propaganda photos because no one ever saw them. These were pictures that were never seen before because they were not printed,” Dr Peterson added. “Different people saw Amin very differently. I think we should not adopt a very negative or positive image of Amin. People have lots of different experiences under Amin.” The politics of cultural life The curators observe that for the Amin government, the revival of the traditional performing arts helped to prove the regime’s anti-colonial credentials. Never before had artists enjoyed such a prominent place in public life. Uganda’s national arts troupe – the ‘Heart Beat of Africa’ – had been moribund under the Obote government. It was revived in the 1970s, with representative members from each of Uganda’s ethnic groups. The troupe travelled widely: it visited the Soviet Union in 1973, Iraq in 1974, and New York and Zaire (now DR Congo) in 1975.

In 1977 Uganda sent a large delegation to Lagos, Nigeria to participate in the 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture. For several years before this, the Amin regime organised regional competitions to select representative works of art that could be displayed in Lagos. In this and in other ways, the Amin regime encouraged the standardisation of the traditional performing arts. Performers from other places visited Uganda, too: dancers from Sékou Touré’s Guinea and Mobutu’s Zaire made regular visits, as did performers from Gaddafi’s Libya. The curators elaborate that at the same time, Amin placed sports – especially football, boxing, and wrestling – at the centre of public life. “These games projected a kind of ‘muscular masculinity’ which appears at times lighthearted. But

out of the public gaze, behind prison walls and in police cells, this same sentiment was generating terrible violence. “These photographs bring this field of cultural and political activity into view. They highlight how political interest overlapped with athletic and artistic performance. They also highlight the dedication of Uganda’s artists and athletes, and the enthusiasm that their performances generated.” Magendo In 1973 prices rose dramatically in Ugandan marketplaces. According to government statistics, the cost of living for low-income workers increased by 531 per cent between 1971 to 1977; while the cost of living for high-income groups rose by 234 per cent. The Amin government responded to the

inflationary pressure on prices by attempting to curate the Ugandan economy. The State Trading Corporation was established by presidential decree in September 1972. It had a legal monopoly over the import and export of commodities. There were fixed prices for goods sold to consumers, and in every district there were government-appointed ‘agents’ who were responsible for the distribution and sale of commodities. There was a yawning disparity between the official prices structure and the market value of things. Selling commodities at the stateapproved price was financially imprudent. Many people looked for markets across borders, selling coffee and other valuable things in Kenya and Zaire, where purchase prices were much higher. The Amin regime decried all of this activity as


‘magendo’, profiteering. But it was a key factor in the economy of the 1970s: between 1975 and 1979 as much as $520 million in coffee was smuggled out of Uganda. The Economic Crimes Tribunal The Economic Crimes Tribunal was established by presidential decree on 25 March 1975. Its military judges were empowered to investigate and prosecute profiteers, hoarders, and others who acted against the economic interests of the state. Smuggling, overcharging, and hoarding were made punishable with death by firing squad. By April, traders charged with selling goods above government prices were being arrested and executed. Others were flogged in public. According to the curators, there are several dozen photos in the UBC collection that picture the work of the Economic Crimes Tribunal. The names of the people they depict are largely lost in history, as the tribunal’s records have apparently not survived. Crime and punishment The curators note that it is impossible to know how many people were arrested for infractions against President Amin’s decrees. It is clear that, for some people, punishment was exemplary. The whole process of indictment – the production of evidence, the

“THE PHOTOS WERE MADE TO GLORIFY AMIN, ELEVATE ACHIEVEMENTS, AND MAKE VISIBLE THE INIQUITIES OF GOVERNMENT ENEMIES.” interrogation of the accused, the punishment of the guilty – was conducted in public, in front of audiences that sometimes numbered in the thousands. Cameramen from the Ministry of Information were present, too. In still photography and in moving film they captured the evidence, creating a record that could memorialise the government’s war against economic indiscipline. “The photos displayed here were created as an aspect of the effort to document crime. You, the viewer, are meant to sit in judgement of the people who are pictured here. That is what these photos do: they made crimes visible,” the curators say. But the unseen violence, secretly meted out away from the public view, “leaves no trace in the UBC archive,” they add. Media According to the curators, at the time Amin came to power, Uganda had one of the most developed media infrastructures in Africa. One survey found that, in 1965, eight out of ten Ugandans over the

72 new african december 2019/january 2020

Top: President Idi Amin christens Queens Road as Lumumba Avenue in Kampala on 18 January, 1973

age of 16 listened regularly to Radio Uganda. Amin set about expanding the radio infrastructure, and in the early 1970s new transmitters were set up in Mbale, Gulu, Mityana and Kabale. The newspaper business was also transformed. Older publications were either outlawed or closed, and a new paper – the Voice of Uganda – was established to represent the official view. For the Amin government the national news media was a means by which to dictate to Ugandans. Journalists were present at every public occasion, and even the most minor aspects of official business were relayed through Radio Uganda and the Voice of Uganda. Civil servants called it ‘government by radio announcement’. It is not clear how many of these actually reached their intended audiences. By the mid-1970s, chronic shortages of ‘essential commodities’ meant that many Ugandans were unable to buy simple batteries for their radio sets. Amin also keenly embraced global media, and international journalists from the BBC, Reuters, or Voice of America were regularly invited to official functions. Amin hoped this would amplify his image as a global statesman. “What it actually did was draw increasing international attention to the brutality of his regime. It is for this reason that Amin remains a notorious figure among global audiences,” the curators say. Photographing Amin was a perilous job. One government photographer – Jimmy Parmer – was murdered by Amin’s henchmen as punishment for his pursuit of unapproved photographic subjects. The curators see this exhibition as a starting point, and a workin-progress, not a final product. They hope to develop a more fully representative exhibition about the experience of ordinary Ugandans in the 1970s. They are calling on the public to share objects or photographs with them – or recognise the people or occasions seen in the exhibition. After Kampala, the exhibition is set to travel to other museums in Uganda, and there are plans to take it abroad, to countries including Australia, the USA and the UK. NA

Also, the overall remittance figures of between $22-$32bn compare favourably with the federal government’s budget of around $20bn. And these remittances tend to be counter-cyclical, increasing in times of natural and politicoeconomic catastrophes, when FDI heads for the doors, as well as without incurring the other outflows typical of ODA and FDI such as interest, debt and dividend payments, and the repatriation of funds to pay for expatriate professionals.

Diaspora remittances to Africa amounting to tens of billions of dollars per year annually outstrip development aid and FDI – but only a small proportion of this goes into investment. Why?

Diaspora billions await harnessing


wenty years ago, the issue of diasporas and their involvement in the development of their countries of heritage barely registered on the political agenda. It was only after 2002, when the World Bank and IMF published figures demonstrating that diaspora remittances far outstripped Overseas Development Aid (ODA) that people began to notice. Globally, we now know that 250m diasporans remit about half a trillion US dollars, each impacting on average 4.5 people (i.e. over a billion people) in their country of heritage, thus making them the foremost contributors to development. Of this, over $85bn per year is sent solely by the African diaspora. Nevertheless, as recently as 10 years ago, it was an uphill struggle convincing African governments to create structures to engage their foremost contributors to development, whether through investment or skills transfer programmes. Fast-forward to 2018 and most governments have created diaspora departments, offices, special representatives, or commissions. At the continental level, the AU describes the diaspora as its sixth region and is busily establishing frameworks to harness diaspora skills and talents, as well as financial resources, with

the creation of a Diaspora Investment Fund, launched in December. The second Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit (NDIS), held in Abuja in November 2019, exposed why creating such structures is so vital, as well as the difficulties that continue to beset the best endeavours. The Summit attracted significant official support, with appearances by VicePresident Yemi Osinbajo, and the chair of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission that is set to work alongside the Foreign Ministry, who laid out the investment opportunities to the 200 assembled diaspora investors and their partners. For the Nigerians, the issue of diaspora investment is particularly pressing. As other FDI flows decline (falling 40% from $9.64bn in 2015 to $5.12bn in 2016, and to $3.5bn in 2017), Diaspora Direct Investment (DDI) has been increasing. Remittances to Nigeria sent through formal channels amounted to $22bn in 2018, and were probably as high as $32bn if those sent through informal channels are included. The World Bank has estimated that 25% of these remittances represent investment of some kind. DDI thus accounts for between $5.5$8bn, which compares favourably with the declining FDI figures.

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A question of trust

The African diaspora currently remits over $85bn per year to the continent.

The diaspora is thus sustainably committed. So why has it been so difficult to leverage their resources for large-scale strategic investments, rather than the small-scale peer-topeer investments to relatives and house-building that remittances so often represent? The issue is first, establishing an enabling environment that facilitates diaspora investment and second, creating viable investment and financial products and instruments, such as diaspora bonds, that people can access. Trust, however, appears to underwrite these two factors – trust in the government that creates the enabling environment, and trust in the financial institutions that market the investment products. And as someone remarked, trust arrives in a donkey cart, but flees in a Ferrari. A point perfectly captured at a London Ghanaian meeting requesting diaspora donations to re-equip a local hospital. Many wanted to give, but after working two jobs, feared their donation would instead end up in a politiciancontrolled Swiss bank account. The diaspora is a product of migration, both voluntary and involuntary, and represents a huge resource, given the skills and knowledge that have been lost to Africa as part of these migratory flows. With its rising population, Africa is also likely to remain a net exporter of labour, in which case migration will continue, with the diaspora remaining an important force. Creating structures and bridging the trust deficit between governments and the diaspora will unleash massive dividends. NA

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New African December 2019/January 2020  

The December issue of New African gets into the end of the year party mood with our annual listing of the 100 Most Influential Africans of t...

New African December 2019/January 2020  

The December issue of New African gets into the end of the year party mood with our annual listing of the 100 Most Influential Africans of t...


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