What Time’s list of the 100 most influential people globally says about leadership in Africa

14 October 2021,  Africa No Filter

The Time 100 list has become one of the most notable measures of global leadership, influence, and power. The first edition - in 1999 - featured only one African. Nelson Mandela. The 2021 edition featured seven Africans. We went into Time magazine’s digital archive from 2011 to 2021 to find out what Time 100 reflects about leadership and influence in Africa globally. For a start, Africa is no longer represented by one country - leaders from 21 countries have been featured, including Eritrea and Somalia. Nigeria leads the pack with 19 Nigerians making Time 100.

Politicians (13), activists (9) and medical doctors (7) are the most influential Africans globally. There are also economists, authors (including the late narrative-shift advocate Binyavanga Wainaina), an actress (Nollywood superstar Omotola Jalade Ekeinde), comedian (Trevor Noah) and musician (Angelique Kidjo). The late Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, made the list in 2015 - the “terrorist” is a stark contrast from other candidates.

Another point worth noting is that the lists featured more men than women, other than activists (8 women and one man), and the years 2017 and 2021. The former featured two women and one man, while the latter featured four women and three men. The 2021 list also shows the changing faces and spheres of influence. We were especially pleased to see environmentalist (Kenyan Phyllis Omido) making the latest list - a sign that climate action is not male or western. It is also African and female.

Read the complete report here.