The 100 most influential Africans

25 August 2020

English translation of extract from full article. Click here to read full French article.

Leaders of major companies, sportsmen, prominent artists, scientists or politicians: who are the 100 African personalities who are essential in this extraordinary year 2020? Jeune Afrique proposes its ranking.

When we began to identify the personalities who would make the list of the 100 most influential Africans in January 2020, no one would have bet that the Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus would be at the top of the ranking. Six months later, however, and while the world is going through a crisis unparalleled in memory, it is difficult not to give him the first place. The year 2020 will remain the year of the coronavirus, and in the face of this scourge, it happens to be an African who, because he was elected in 2017 to head the World Health Organization (WHO), found himself on the front line. Whether "Dr. Tedros" has managed the pandemic well or poorly, it is too early to tell. But when we apply our selection criteria, he stands out irresistibly. These criteria are numerous and fall into three broad categories. Influence itself, first, the ability to influence political (we exclude heads of state and government, whose influence is too obvious) or economic decisions, or to shape public opinion. Second, notoriety, which we measure through media exposure and popularity on social networks. Finally, the trajectory, i.e., the dynamics of each individual's journey. In all three categories, the WHO boss is logically a big hit. As for the other personalities that make up the ranking, we leave it up to you to discover them.

South Africa

While he only gained worldwide recognition through the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Salim Abdool Karim, who has just celebrated his 60th birthday, has long been a leading authority in South Africa and in the international scientific community. An epidemiologist, he first distinguished himself in HIV research, to the point of being appointed to head the UNAIDS panel of experts. This first consecration rewarded his work alongside Quarraisha Abdool Karim, his wife, but also his former university colleague Zweli Mkhize, now Minister of Health.

It is Covid-19 that brings them together in the spring of 2020: when he sets up a scientific council to guide the government's response, the minister logically calls upon his prestigious comrade.

Salim Abdool Karim then became one of the main faces of the fight against Covid in South Africa, and on the continent. He is the first to predict, while many still believe that Africa will be only slightly affected by the virus, that the peak of the pandemic might only occur in September. And repeats in the media that his fellow citizens must get used to the idea of living sustainably with the Covid.