Header Background
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 roller-coaster 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.

Politics & Public Service

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Business & Finance

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Civil Society & Activism

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Innovation, Health & Education

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Arts & Culture

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100 Influencers