Business, Finance & Economics

Africa's most powerful men under 40


President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila at the opening ceremony of the 31st Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit on August 17, 2011 in Luanda, Angola.


Stephane de Sakutin

Who are the most powerful African men under 40?

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila and South Africa's controversial politician Julius Malema are the top two.

That's according to a new list "The 10 Youngest Power Men in Africa" on The list, compiled by Mfonobong Nsehe, is interesting but it seems a bit arbitrary, as all such rankings do, and it seems to have too many men from South Africa.

I appreciate the power of business and the economy, but this list seems too heavy on businessmen. There seem to be too many men with links to the McKinsey consulting group. By my count four of these powerful African men have been or are currently with McKinsey. Is the international consulting firm that powerful?

If you think the choices are questionable, who are your choices for the 10 most powerful African men 40 and under? 

Here they are:

1) Joseph Kabila, Congolese, president, Democratic Republic of Congo
Now 40, Kabila has been in power for 11 years. He became president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in after his father, former President Laurent Kabila, was assassinated in a coup attempt at the height of a  civil war. As soon as he took the reins of power, Kabila moved quickly to end the country’s civil war by negotiating peace agreements with rebel forces in 2002, which ended the war. Kabila consolidated his hold on power in 2006 when he won the country’s first democratic elections in over 40 years. The DRC has the second highest infant-mortality rate and the second lowest nominal GDP per capita in the world, despite its immense deposits of mineral resources. But Kabila believes he can fix it all with more time. He is seeking re-election during November’s Presidential elections.

2) Julius Malema, South African, president of the African National Congress Youth League
Malema, 30, is the president of the Youth League of South Africa’s ruling Action National Congress (ANC). The Youth League wields enormous power in South African politics, and played a pivotal role in the election of the incumbent president, Jacob Zuma, during the 2009 presidential elections. Malema, its leader, remains one of the country’s most divisive and polarizing figures, frequently stirring controversy for his inflammatory rhetoric and racial slurs. Malema was once selected by Zuma as a future leader of South Africa but now the two have fallen out and the ANC is deciding whether or not to censure Malema or even expel him from the party. Plus South Africa's courts banned him from singing his signature song: "Kill the Boer."  

3) Mark Shuttleworth, South African, founder, Ubuntu
In 1995, at the age of 22, Shuttleworth founded Thawte, a digital certificate and internet security company that he later sold to American software giantVeriSign for over $500 million, ploughing the proceeds to fund a tech incubator and venture capital firm. Shuttleworth achieved fame in 2002 for using his money to buy a $20 million ticket onto the space shuttle, becoming the first "Afro-naut."

Shuttleworth, now 38, founded Ubuntu, a computer operating system which is distributed as free open source software. Shuttleworth is also the founder of the Shuttleworth Foundation, a purpose trust that funds individuals who are actively engaged in social change projects. The foundation identifies social entrepreneurs, gives them a fellowship grant, and multiplies the money the entrepreneurs put into their projects by a factor of 10 or more. Shuttleworth now lives on the Isle of Man and is a dual citizen of South Africa and Britain.

4) Fred Swaniker, founder, African Leadership Academy
Swaniker, 34, a Ghanaian-born entrepreneur and business consultant and Mckinsey alumnus is the founder of the African Leadership Academy, a coeducational, residential secondary boarding school in Johannesburg, South Africa which recruits outstanding students from across Africa and prepares them for a future of leadership.

5) Acha Leke, Cameroonian, Partner, Mckinsey & Company
One of Africa’s most sought after business consultants, Leke, 38, is a partner at McKinsey & Company. The brainy Cameroonian advises multinational corporations. He also co-authored McKinsey’s report on Africa “Lions on the Move: The Progress and Potential of African Economies,” and is a co-founder of the African Leadership Academy. In 2009, he was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

6) James Mworia, Kenyan, Chief Executive Officer, Centum Investments
At only 33, Mworia is the chief executive officer of Centum, one of East Africa’s largest private equity firms. Centum has a cross-listing on both the Nairobi and Ugandan stock exchanges, and has substantial regional equity investments in blue chips like Coca-Cola, UAP Insurance and Kenya Commercial Bank. Mworia has been instrumental in pursuing Centum’s regional expansion into new territories like Mauritius and Nigeria.

7) Euvin Naidoo, South African, President of the South African Chamber of Commerce in America
Yet another Mckinsey alumnus, Euvin Naidoo is the president of the South African Chamber of Commerce in America (SACCA), and a well known advocate for western investments in Africa. As President of SACCA, Naidoo facilitates the expansion of business, trade, and investment opportunities between South Africa and North America. In 2009,the Journal of International Affairs at Columbia University named him as one of the 5 Faces of African Innovation and Entrepreneurship, along with Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim and Ghanaian President John Atta Mills. In 2009 Euvin was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

8) Gachao Kiuna, Kenyan, CEO, Transcentury Group
Kiuna bagged a PhD in biotechnology from Cambridge at the age of 24; went on to work for McKinsey & Company in Johannesburg where he advised corporate clients on strategy and finance and advised the government of Kenya on its "Vision 2030" project. Now 33, Gachao sits at the helm of the private equity firm Transcentury Group, which is listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. The company’s diversified portfolio is spread across sectors such as financial services, food and agriculture, energy, real estate and infrastructure in both East and South Africa.

9) David Munro, South African. Chief Executive Office, Corporate and Investment Banking, Standard Bank Group
In July, Munro, 38, was appointed the Chief Executive, Corporate and Investment Banking at the Standard Bank Group, Africa’s largest financial services provider. Munro was selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2009.

10) Andry Rajoelina, transitional president, Madagascar
The former disc-jockey was once the mayor of Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. In 2009, he seized power in a widely condemned military coup, subsequently declaring himself the transitional head of the state of Madagascar. At 37, Rajoelina is the youngest head of government on the continent. Before jumping into politics, Rajoelina was a moderately successful media entrepreneur who owned a radio station, Viva, and Injet, a successful advertising company.