In the next five years, 11 selected young leaders will lead Africa’s development objectives to the next level through brilliant scientific innovations, enterprising businesses, investment in technologies as well as activism to ensure Africans enjoy their rights.
Each year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) selects the most innovative, socially minded, and exceptional leaders under the age of 40.
In their class of 2016, WEF has unveiled a team of 121 Young Global Leaders (YGL) who according to the organization “give hope that they are ready to tackle the world’s most complex and pressing challenges.” From the total, 11 of these leaders, hail from the Sub-Saharan Africa.
They form part of a community and a five-year leadership journey that will see them break down barriers in various sectors using “their collective skills to get things done for positive impact across private, public and civil society organizations.”
Collectively, the class of 2016 gives optimism that the next generation of influential leaders are here and prepared to confront a world prevalent with complex, inter-dependent global challenges.
Leaders from the Sub-Saharan Region
YGL from Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) represent a vibrant team that is set to push development in the region a notch higher within the next five years.
Abayomi Awobokun: Nigeria
Abayomi Awobokun is the CEO of Oando Down Stream Oando PLC. In a span of about ten years, he has been able to rise to the top management level after previously serving as Project Manager in the Strategy & Planning department when he first joined the company in 2005. He later worked as the Executive Assistant to the Group Chief Executive Officer and the Head Investor-Relations at Oando PLC.
Prior to all these, the young leader was once a cleaner in the UK.
Ada Osakwe: Ghana
The young leader is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Agrolay Ventures. As the Senior Investment Adviser to Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Osakwe uses her experience from years of private equity, banking, and finance, to lead private sector agribusiness investments for the ministry.
Previously, the identified YGL worked as a Vice President at Kuramo Capital, a New York-based private equity fund that invests in high-growth opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2014, Forbes featured here in their list of the ‘20 Youngest Power Women In Africa 2014’.
Christopher Ategeka: Uganda
The founder and CEO of Rides for Lives, Christopher Ategeka is an entrepreneur whose non-profit builds mobile health units equipped with a doctor, lab, and pharmacy. Since its establishment, it has served over 500,000 people.
His entrepreneurial skills helped him support his family at a young age after losing both parents to HIV/AIDS when he was seven. He started a neighborhood waste-collection service from which he was able to support his family.
Farida Bedwei: Ghana
She is a top software engineer in Ghana and one of the most powerful women in financial technology in Africa. Born with cerebral palsy, she has lived beyond the limitation and co-founded Logiciel, a tech company that delivers mobile banking and cash management software.
In 2013, South Africa's CEO Magazine named Bedwei the most influential woman in business and government in Africa for the financial sector.
James Mworia: Kenya
James Mworia is the CEO, centum investment company limited. He joined Centum- one of East Africa’s largest Private Equity firms- as an intern when he was 23 years old. Seven years later he became the CEO leading the firm’s regional expansions into new markets in Nigeria and Mauritius.
He has been featured in Forbes’ ‘The Youngest 10 Power Men in Africa’. Last year he won the All African Business Leaders Awards (AABLA)’s East Africa Business Person of the Year Award for the year 2015.
Juliana Rotich: Kenya
Juliana Rotich is a venture partner in Africa Technology Ventures, a $50 million venture capital fund, propelling tech-enabled start-ups in key sectors in East and West Africa.
She founded Ushahidi Inc., an innovative nonprofit tech organization making essential crisis information available to citizens all across the world. She was also part of a founding team at BRCK Inc, that developed the BRCK - designed and engineered as a rugged, self-powered, mobile Wi-Fi device which connects people and things to the internet in areas of the world with poor infrastructure.
Mary Vilakazi: South Africa
Vilakazi is the Group Chief Financial Officer, MMI Holdings Limited.
Prior to this; she was the Chief Financial Officer of the Mineral Services Group and subsequently became an independent consultant and a director of several companies, including the Development Bank of South Africa and Kagiso Media Limited.
As a CFO and non-executive director in the investor and banking industry, Vilakazi is involved with various educational, entrepreneurial and community development forums and trusts.
Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq: Nigeria
Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq is the Chief Executive Officer and founding board member of the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria. In his position, Umar-Sadiq is an influential voice in healthcare who runs a private sector initiative to mobilize the broader business community towards improving health outcomes. Previously, he advised the former Minister of State for Health in Nigeria.
Nima Elbagir: Sudan
Nima is a senior international correspondent for CNN and was named the Royal Television Society’s Specialist Journalist of the Year.
The celebrated winner scooped two Foreign Press Association Awards in 2008 - TV News Story of the Year and Broadcast Journalist of the Year.
She has reported stories ranging from CNN’s coverage of refugee crisis, the rise of Islamic extremism and the missing schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014, and Ebola menace in Liberia among other moving stories.
Victor Ochen: Uganda
Victor Ochen, himself a childhood victim of war, founded the African Youth Initiative Network for the healing of trauma and to promote youth leadership.
Last year, he was nominated for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
In 2005 he founded The African Youth Initiative Network, based in Lira, Uganda inspired by a young girl by the name Janet. The organization focuses on medical rehabilitation of those who have suffered burnings, mutilations of all kinds, rape, and psychological torture, and the building and promoting of youth leadership
Zukie Siyotula: South Africa
The Executive Head, Oil and Gas Thebe Investment Corporation is an exceptionally successful South African woman.
Prior to joining Thebe, Zukie held various senior positions Barclays Africa Group including CFO for Wealth Management and COO for Africa Finance.
The eleven leaders from SSA together with the rest of the global leaders joins a community of past YGL honorees that includes Chelsea Clinton, Board member of Clinton Foundation; Larry Page, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Google, USA; David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Facebook, among others.
Image credit: WEF