100 Most Influential Africans 2021

The expected annual list of the 100 Most Influential Africans of 2021, issued by the continent’s top pan-African journal, London-based New African magazine, has been published.

The format of the listing was expressed in six categories, allowing for a wider and more flexible range of entries: Leaders, Entrepreneurs, Changemakers, Opinion Shapers, Creatives and Sportspeople.

New African Magazine has been published for over 50 years, charting the Africa story from the time of when the continent began to be liberated, through its growing pains to where it is today – but for most of this time, we swam against the current during an era when global news was controlled by the Western media.

African affairs are relegated to the sidelines most of the time – unless there were wars – and analysis was often simplistic and negative.

African personalities did not make the news unless they were classified as dictators or projected as strange or weird. Even the athletes who won gold medals were portrayed as strange anomalies – their achievements the result of poverty or natural climatic conditions.

Read Also: Lifesavers and creatives top New African magazine’s 100 Most Influential Africans list 2020

Of the continent’s entrepreneurs, innovators, artists, writers, social workers, philosophers, thinkers, academics, adventurers, sportspeople in general, there was hardly ever a mention. It is noteworthy that many pan-African communications space are owned by large Western media – The Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, The Economist and the US giants, CNN, Time and Newsweek.

December 2021 Edition of New African Magazine

They banged on about what the novelist Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie has called the ‘single story’ of African negativity. African achievement could not get a look-in. Given the scope of the Western press and the esteem it was held in, reinforced by powerful radio broadcasts that shaped the news and views of the day, many Africans came to believe in their own sense of worthlessness compared to others.

Some have described this as an enervating ‘colonial hangover’ that has been difficult to shake off even after generations.

While attitudes are changing, there is still a long way to go.

Read Also: African Authors’ 2021 Outstanding Awards

Discover the 100 Most Influential Africans of 2021 in these six categories: Leaders, Entrepreneurs, Changemakers, Opinion Shapers, Creatives and Sportspeople.

100 Most Influential Africans 2021the List


  • Akinwumi Adesina, President, AfDB, Nigeria
  • Aziz Akhannouch, Prime Minister, Morocco
  • Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor, Sierra Leone
  • Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, Director, ARC, Senegal
  • Samia Suluhu Hassan, President, Tanzania
  • Hakainde Hichilema, President, Zambia
  • Paul Kagame, President, Rwanda
  • Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy, UNFSS, Rwanda
  • Martha Koome, Chief Justice, Kenya
  • Kwasi Kwarteng, Politician, Ghana
  • Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, AfCFTA, South Africa
  • John Nkengasong, Director, Africa CDC, Cameroon
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, WTO, Nigeria
  • Ali Bongo Ondimba, President, Gabon
  • Benedict Oramah, President, Afreximbank, Nigeria
  • Félix Tshisekedi, President, DR Congo


  • Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Tech Guru / Investor, Nigeria
  • Olugbenga Agboola, Techpreneur, Nigeria
  • Mimi Alemayehou, Independent Director, Twitter, Ethiopia/Kenya
  • Roberta Annan, Investor, Ghana
  • Aliko Dangote, Industrialist, Nigeria
  • Tomi Davies, Investor, Nigeria
  • Makhtar Diop, Managing Director, IFC, Senegal
  • Serge Ekué, President, BOAD, Benin
  • Isaac Fokuo, Investor, Ghana
  • Ilham Kadri, CEO, Solvay Group, Morocco
  • Strive Masiyiwa, Entrepreneur, Zimbabwe
  • Ralph Mupita, CEO, MTN, Zimbabwe
  • Alioune Ndiaye, CEO, Orange MEA, Senegal
  • Myriam Sidibe, Marketer, Mali
  • Patrick Soon-Shiong, Entrepreneur/Inventor, South Africa
  • Bosun Tijani, Techpreneur, Nigeria
  • Victor Williams, CEO, NBA Africa, Sierra Leone
  • Lionel Zinsou, Financier, Benin
  • Moez-Alexandre Zouari, Retail, Tunisia


  • Ayoade Alakija, Health Activist, Nigeria
  • Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Scientist, Eritrea
  • Mary-Jane Bopape, Climatologist, South Africa
  • Rebecca Enonchong, Tech Entrepreneur, Cameroon
  • Timnit Gebru, Computer Scientist, Ethiopia/Eritrea
  • Julie Gichuru, Media Personality, Kenya
  • Aida Habtezion, Scientist, Eritrea
  • Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Activist, Chad
  • Anne-Marie Imafidon, Mathematics Wizard, Nigeria
  • Paula Kahumbu, Conservationist, Kenya
  • Sefora Kodjo Kouassi, Activist, Côte d’Ivoire
  • David Makara, Lawyer, Kenya
  • Ndoni Mcunu, Climate Scientist, South Africa
  • Vanessa Nakate, Climate Activist, Uganda
  • Catherine Ngila, Research Scientist, Kenya
  • Reine Dominique Ntone Sike, Aerospace Engineer, Cameroon
  • Angelique Pouponneau, Environmentalist, Seychelles
  • Jeremiah Thoronka, Inventor, Sierra Leone


  • Simon Allison, Journalist, South Africa
  • Zain Asher, TV Anchor, Nigeria
  • Hopewell Chin’ono, Journalist, Zimbabwe
  • Edward Enninful, Editor, Vogue, Ghana
  • E. Gyimah-Boadi, Political Scientist, Ghana
  • Afua Hirsch, Writer, Ghana
  • Khabane Lame , TikToker, Senegal
  • Zyad Limam, Publisher/Editor, Tunisia
  • Lesley Lokko, Architect/Educator, Ghana
  • Achille Mbembe, Political Scientist, Cameroon
  • Dambisa Moyo, Economist, Zambia
  • Nnenna Nwakanma, Web Activist, Nigeria
  • David Olusoga, Historian, Nigeria
  • Hannah Ryder, Economist, Kenya
  • Minouche Shafik, Economist, Egypt
  • Zainab Usman, Commentator, Nigeria
  • Rama Yade, Director, Atlantic Council, Senegal


  • Virgil Abloh, Fashion Designer, Ghana
  • Yemi Alade, Singer, Nigeria
  • Osei Bonsu, Curator, Ghana
  • Sami Bouajila, Actor, Tunisia
  • Michaela Coel, Actress, Director, Writer, Ghana
  • David Diop, Writer, Senegal
  • Bernardine Evaristo, Writer, Nigeria
  • Damon Galgut, Author, South Africa
  • Abdulrazak Gurnah, Writer, Tanzania
  • Cush Jumbo, Actress, Nigeria
  • Daniel Kaluuya, Actor, Uganda
  • KiDi, Singer-Songwriter, Ghana
  • Pulane Kingston, Art Collector, South Africa
  • Sidney Kombo-Kintombo, Special Effects Artist, R Congo
  • Elsa Majimbo, Comedienne, Kenya
  • Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, Writer, Senegal
  • Thuso Mbedu, Actress, South Africa
  • Lupita Nyong’o, Actress, Film Maker, Kenya
  • Abel Selaocoe, Musician, South Africa
  • Wizkid, Singer, Nigeria
  • Marie-Cécile Zinsou, Art Historian, Benin


  • Letesenbet Gidey, Athlete, Ethiopia
  • Ahmed Ayoub Hafnaoui, Swimmer, Tunisia
  • Hassan, Athlete, Ethiopia
  • Ons Jabeur, Tennis Player, Tunisia
  • Eliud Kipchoge, Athlete, Kenya
  • Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon, Athlete, Kenya
  • Francis Ngannou, UFC Boxer, Cameroon
  • Mo Salah, Footballer, Egypt
  • Nafissatou (Nafi) Thiam, Athlete, Senegal

Originally published on New African. Written by Anver Versi with Omar Ben Yedder, Gail Collins, Neil Ford, Clayton Goodwin, Wanjohi Kabukuru, Shoshana Kedem, Michael Renouf and David Thomas.

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