100 Most Influential Africans 2016 – Meet the Guest Editors

24 Jan 2017 - 09:15
Influential Africans of 2016
New Africa Magazine


Now in its fifth year, our annual edition of 100 Most Influential Africans aims to celebrate the 100 personalities who shape the year. This year, we celebrate those Africans who made an impact and made their mark in a challenging year. In compiling this year’s list, we sought the guidance of some of the most influential experts and global thought leaders in their respective fields, from Carlos Lopes to Bibi Bakare-Yusuf. Before we unveil our list of the 100 Most Influential Africans 2016, here’s a look at our guest editors.

Carlos Lopes, Policy Makers Guest Editor

Carlos Lopes is currently a Visiting Professor with the University of Cape Town Faculty of Commerce and a Visiting Fellow with Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, amongst various academic affiliations. He also participates in various Boards, including for the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, and the Lisbon University Institute that he chairs.

Following the independence movement in his native Guinea Bissau, he was “mobilised to the core by the ideals of pan-Africanism”, which influenced his distinguished career in the politics of development.

Courtesy of a fellowship, he got his degree in Geneva and later a PhD in history while studying in Paris. In September this year Dr Lopes left his position as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), ending a long spell at the UN. He is part of President Kagame’s steering committee advising on reform measures for the African Union.

The focus of his academic work has been education and development issues on the continent. He has published widely and been awarded many prizes for his work in these areas.

Acha Leke, Business Guest Editor

Acha Leke  is a Senior Partner with McKinsey & Co, Johannesburg and a member of the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) Council. He set up McKinsey’s office in Nigeria and now leads McKinsey’s Public and Social Sector Practice across Africa. He is a co-founder of the African Leadership Academy and the African Leadership Network and a World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leader. He is a member of ONE’s Africa Policy Advisory Board, of the Lagos Business School Advisory Board, of the WEF Global Future Council on Economic Growth and Social Inclusion, and of President Kagame’s African Union Reform Committee. He co-authored McKinsey’s acclaimed series of Lions on the Move reports, has received numerous awards and recognitions, and is regularly featured in various media.

Fred Swaniker, Education Guest Editor

Fred Swaniker is the Founder of ALU, a Pan-African institution with a mission to educate 3 million African leaders in the next 50 years. ALU now has two campuses, at its African Leadership College, Mauritius, and the African Leadership University, Rwanda (

Winnie Byanyima, Civil Society

As Executive Director of Oxfam International she has brought the fight for women’s rights to the forefront of the agenda, as she constantly does in the various influential roles she has held.

She came to Oxfam with decades in senior administrative and political positions. Ms Byanyima was part of the team that drafted Uganda’s 1995 Constitution, after which she served over a decade in parliament.

She chaired a UN task force on gender for the Millennium Development Goals project, as well as climate change, having specialised in that area when completing her Master’s Degree in mechanical engineering.

The African Union appointed her director of Women, Gender and Development in 2006 – championing, amongst other things, economic equality of women in a continent where the economy is “rigged” in favour of men.

This is an issue that she has fought long and hard for, imploring: “Without gender equality, the African continent will not fulfil its remarkable potential for its people.”

Ory Okolloh, Techpreneurs, Techpreneurs Guest Editor

Ory Okolloh  is currently a Director of Investments at Omidyar Network Africa. Prior to this, Ory was Google’s policy manager for sub-Saharan Africa. Ory is also a co-founder of Ushahidi and of Mzalendo, a website that tracks the performance of Kenyan MPs. A graduate from Harvard and Pittsburgh universities, Ory was named one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine and in 2011, named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, as well as one of Africa’s Most Powerful Women by Forbes Magazine. In 2014 she was named one of Time 100’s most influential people in the world.

Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, Publishing & Literature Guest Editor

Co-founder of Cassava Republic Press, where she provides editorial and strategic direction in publishing and marketing, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf aims to contribute to the transformation of the African continent through production of alternative narratives and knowledge. Cassava Republic Press publishes and presents stories written by and for Africans in an effort to develop a deep culture of reading across the continent. A feminist and independent scholar, Bibi has worked as a consultant for ActionAid, Unifem, and the European Union. Recently, she started Tapestry Consulting, a boutique research and training company devoted to gender issues in Nigeria.

Article can be accessed here.