There are three Africans, a Nigerian, a Zimbabwean and a Ugandan from different fields of endeavour on the list for 2017.
They are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – a Novelist and an essayist; Strive Masiyiwa – a Telecoms and technology entrepreneur and Frank Mugisha – an activist for the sexual minorities.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a prize-winning Nigerian writer who has won admirers with her prose and a pair of viral TED Talks (one of which was famously sampled by Beyoncé). But Adichie has been most powerful in challenging her audiences to think differently and more expansively about Africa, identity, race, and gender.
Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and chairman of Econet Wireless Global Ltd. Telecommunications firm, Econet, came into being in 1998 after a long legal battle with the Zimbabwe government. His victory busted up a state monopoly and helped spur the development of private telecoms across the continent. Masiyiwa has since relocated to London, but his energetic and well-rounded philanthropy still makes an impact in Africa; he chairs numerous boards and has been lauded for supporting orphans, funding scholarships, and fighting hunger, poverty, and Ebola.
Frank Mugisha is the Executive Director, Sexual Minorities Uganda. The 37-year-old, who came out as gay at 14, spoke out against the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which mandated life in prison for LGBT Ugandans, and he led the campaign that eventually led to the bill’s invalidation by the courts. More battles lie ahead for a leader of a community that faces open hostility.
According to Geoff Colvin, Editor-in-Chief at Fortune, “The World’s Greatest Leaders is a ranking of people who have been particularly effective leaders. We cast a very wide net. We look not just at business, but at all realms of endeavour, whether it is business, government, non-profit, sports…We get a list initially of hundreds of candidates… We then have to narrow it down and that’s where the fun is and that is where the impossible choices are also. But we do it; we get it down to 50.”