10 Most Powerful Africans You May Not Have Heard Of

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Written by Dana Sanchez

The Forbes 2014 list of the “10 Most Powerful Men In Africa” celebrates the accomplishments of powerful Africans who, without much fanfare, became Africa’s most outstanding male game changers. They are innovative, courageous, daring and often disruptive in their fields, according to a report in Forbes.com.

The list includes African entrepreneurs, corporate executives, social entrepreneurs, political and civil leaders who are changing the continent, Farai Gundan writes in Forbes.

They are:

– Komla Dumor, lead presenter on “Focus On Africa” and BBC World News’ European morning segment, Ghana.

– Ben Magara, CEO and director of Lonmin, Zimbabwe.

– Simdul Shagaya, tech entrepreneur and founder of Konga.com and DealDey.com, Nigeria.

– Amadou Mahtar Ba, founder and CEO of the African Media Initiative, Senegal.

– Mamadou Toure, founder and chairman of Africa 2.0, Cameroon.

–  Ashish J. Thakkar, founder and managing director of Mara Group, Mara Foundation and Mara Online, Uganda.

– Kola Karim,  group managing director and CEO of Shoreline Energy International, Nigeria.

– Mohammed Dewji, group CEO of Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Ltd.,  Tanzania.

– Chinedu Echeruo, tech entrepreneur and founder of Hopstop.com and Tripology.com, Nigeria.

–  January Makamba, deputy minister of communication, science & technology and member of parliament, Tanzania.

Komla Dumor

The highly-respected presenter of “Focus on Africa,” BBC’s flagship and first-ever dedicated daily TV news show on BBC World News, died of cardiac arrest Jan. 18 at his London home. Dumor, who was named one of “100 Most Influential Africans” in 2013 by New African magazine, had “established himself as one of the emerging African faces of global broadcasting.” As a lead presenter for BBC World, Dumor had considerable influence on how the continent is covered, Forbes reports.

He leaves behind a powerful and enduring legacy — how the continent is reported. “There’s so much more to tell about Africa than the usual stories about war, famine and disease.”

Ben Magara

Recently appointed CEO and director of Lonmin, the world’s third-largest platinum mining company, Magara’s job is to improve industrial relations and guide the mine’s turnaround strategy after strikes in 2013 triggered violence.  Forty-six people died including 34 strikers shot dead by police at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.

With a mining career spanning 26 years, Magara was previously CEO of Anglo Coal South Africa, responsible for Anglo American total coal business in South Africa and revenues of around $2 billion. Magara speaks seven languages and has a degree in mining
engineering from the University of Zimbabwe.

Simdul Shagaya

Shagaya is founder and CEO of Konga.com, Nigeria’s largest online shopping portal and
DealDey, a spinoff site. Konga.com, Africa’s answer to Amazon.com, Konga.com an e-commerce platform that sells goods and services directly to consumers. Shagaya is also the founder and executive chairman of DealDey Ltd., which offers services and products at discounted prices.

In 2013 Shagaya won the All Africa Business Leaders Awards’ Entrepreneur of the Year award. HumanIPO selected Konga.com as one of the African tech startups of 2013. Shagaya graduated from George Washington University, Dartmouth College and
holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, Forbes.com reports.

Amadou Mahtar Ba

Mahtar Ba is founder and CEO of the African Media Initiative, a pan-African organization aimed at strengthening the media in Africa. Ba is also a co-founder and chairman of AllAfrica Global Media, Inc. – owner and operator of AllAfrica.com, one of
the largest distributors of African news and information worldwide, Forbes.com reports. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, Ba was chosen as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by the New African Magazine. He was also listed in the top 500 Africans contributing to the rise of the continent by the Africa24 magazine in March, 2011.

Mamadou Toure

Toure is founder and chairman of Africa 2.0, an advocacy group bringing together emerging leaders representing African countries and the diaspora, who share a common vision of the continent’s future. In three years of existence, Africa 2.0 grew into an organization with a global footprint in 26 countries and rallied some of the most influential continental and global leaders, according to Forbes.com.

As the managing director with General Electric (GE) Africa, Toure leads a regional investments and project finance team supporting all GE businesses (power, water, mining, oil and gas, transportation healthcare, aviation) with financing solutions across sub-Saharan Africa. Toure was named “New Leader for Tomorrow” by the Crans Montana Forum in 2011. He was selected in 2012 as of one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by the New African Magazine. In 2013, Toure was ranked among the “25 Faces of the new Africa” by BRICS Business Magazine, Forbes.com reports.

Ashish J. Thakkar

Thakkar is founder and managing director of Mara Group, a diversified conglomerate with approximately $100 million in revenues, according to Thakkar. The group operates in 19 of the 46 sub-Saharan African countries, as well as in India and the United Arab Emirates.

Headquartered in Dubai, Mara Group participates in financial services, information and communications technology manufacturing, real estate and agriculture. Thakkar also launched Mara Online, a portfolio of online and mobile platforms that allow users to communicate, interact and collaborate. The serial entrepreneur advises the presidents of Tanzania and Uganda and runs Mara Foundation, a social enterprise that mentors young African entrepreneurs. He signed up for Virgin Galactic’s first mission to space.

Kola Karim

Karim is managing director and CEO of Shoreline Energy International, a Nigerian conglomerate with interests in oil and gas, power generation, engineering, commodities trading, infrastructure and construction across sub-Saharan Africa. In 2012, Shoreline Energy partnered with U.K-based Heritage Oil to buy a stake in OML 30, an oilfield in Nigeria, for $850 million. An avid polo player, Karim was named Young Global Leader class of 2008 by the World Economic Forum, Forbes.com reports.

Mohammed Dewji

CEO of Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (MeTL), Dewji, at 39, is is the youngest member of the Forbes’ Africa’s 50 Richest list with an estimated $500-million net worth. The MeTL Group began as a family business, a small trading company which Mohammed transformed into one of the largest industrial conglomerates in East Africa, with interests ranging from real estate, agriculture, finance, distribution and manufacturing. The company employs more than 24,000 people in Tanzania and according to Dewji, generates annual revenues of $1.3 billion. Dewji has been a member of parliament in the National Assembly of Tanzania since 2005. Dewji graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in international business and finance and a minor in theology.

Chinedu Echeruo

Echeruo is a tech entrepreneur and founder of HopStop.com which he sold to Apple in the billion-dollar range, Forbes.com reports. HopStop.com is a mobile and online app that provides mass transit directions — door-to-door mass transit, taxi, walking, biking and hourly car rental directions — in major metropolitan markets throughout the U.S., Canada, U.K, France, Australia, New Zealand and Russia.

In 2001, HopStop was named one of the 100 fastest-growing companies in the U.S. by Inc. magazine. Chinedu also founded Tripology.com, an interactive travel referral service focused on connecting travelers with travel specialists which was later bought by USA Today Travel Media Group. Echeruo earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a bachelor of science from Syracuse University.

January Makamba

Makamba is one of Tanzania’s rising stars in government, Forbes.com reports. He is deputy minister of communication, science and technology and is rumored to be planning a run for president in 2015. Makamba is a member of parliament for Bumbuli constituency in the National Assembly of Tanzania. Before running for the Bumbuli parliamentary seat, Makamba was aide to Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete for five years.

Named Young Global Leader class of 2013 by the World Economic Forum, Makamba comes from a political family; his father, Yusuf Makamba was secretary general of the ruling CCM party. In 2013 Makamba was awarded an NDI Democracy Award by the National Democratic Institute which “honors individuals and organizations that have exhibited a sustained commitment to democracy and human rights, and have demonstrated leadership, integrity and courage in their dedication to democratic values and practices.”