The Star (Nairobi)

Africa: Kenyans Dominate Most Influential Africans List

Kenya has produced 10 of the 100 most influential Africans in the just released December issue of the New African magazine.

The 100 were chosen on the basis of what they did, said and also due to their increasing global influence with a special emphasis on those that have made mostly a positive difference this year.

According to the magazine, putting together a list of a 100 people from a continent of 54 countries was not an easy task due to the existence of more inspirational figures than the continent is generally credited for.

The politics category saw Ahmed Isaack Hassan, chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries commission, whose objective is to oversee a free and fair election in 2013, named alongside Rwanda's president Paul Kagame, Senegal's President Macky Sall, South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, Ghana's Kofi Annan and Gambia's ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda among others.

Hassan was termed as a safe pair of hands having served on the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission from the year 2000 to 2005 and as a legal consultant in the constitution-making process in Somalia.

"The new Kenya constitution has laid a good framework, a good foundation. The way we conduct and manage the elections will also be very critical in how we make sure we have peaceful and credible elections," Isaack said.

Among the nine Kenyans are Equity Bank's CEO and MD James Mwangi who has been honoured twice with presidential national awards, sits on the Board of the African Leadership Academy in South Africa and was named the Ernst and Young World Entrepreneur of the year 2012.

Mwangi, who has over 22 years of management experience, is currently the chairman of Kenya's Vision 2030 delivery board and is charged with the responsibility of ensuring Kenya becomes a middle income country by 2030.

Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg who is the founder and executive director of Akili Dada, an international organisation based in Nairobi and officially registered as a non-governmental organisation, was named in the civil society category.

Akili Dada is an award-winning leadership incubator nurturing a generation of young African women and for Wanjiru, Akili Dada is the realisation of her vision for an organisation that makes it possible for other young women to get the educational opportunities she has been so fortunate to experience.

"Women are really not being engaged in decision-making. Part of what we are trying to do is to make sure there are women at the table, who are well equipped to make a valuable contribution in positions of influence and ensure they are educated, articulate and prepared," Wanjiku said.

She is driven to make the resources that are so plentiful in the US available to deserving young women in Africa and to empower the women on the continent so that they can take their proper place at the decision-making table.

Salim Amin, the son of the world renowned Kenyan photojournalist Mohamed Amin, began his career in 1992 in Somalia during the now infamous Operation Restore Hope.

He later became the Managing Director of Camerapix in 1996 after the death of his father and in memory of Mo, Salim founded The Mohamed Amin Foundation in 1998, now Africa's premier broadcast training school.

With 10 years experience in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, Salim is now branching out to Europe and America in joint ventures and co-productions with leading international broadcasters and has managed to turn his father's small studio in Tanzania into a multi-faceted media and production company.

Today, Camerapix employs over 30 media professionals who operate out of its headquarters in Nairobi and an office in London.

Camerapix offer its clients a wide array of media services including television production, publishing and photography. Amin, who has helped Chinese state television shape Africa's perception, was named in the media category alongside Nigeria's Omoyole Swore who is the figure behind the online news website Sahara Reporters in 2006, Senegal's Amadou Ba, co-founder and chairman of the online news portal All African.com, and South Africa's Koos Bekker, already a leading figure within Africa's publishing industry.

Calestous Juma, a professor of the Practice of International Development and Director of the Science, Technology and Globalisation Project at Havard Kennedy School, has led international experts in outlining ways to apply science and technology to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals arising from the UN Millennium Summit in 2000.

Together with Juliana Rotich, who has taken computing to a new level through Ushahidi Inc, were named in the religion/traditional category.

Juma has established himself as a world leader in policy research on biotechnology. He directs the school's Agricultural Innovation in Africa funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation while his continuing original work focuses on analysing the dynamics of evolutionary technological change and applying the results in advancing science and technology policy research, providing high-level science and technology advice and promoting biodiversity conservation.

Rotich, a public speaker, is known for her commentary on technology in Africa and voicing concerns about the loss of indigenous forest and water catchment areas in Kenya.

"We started in one country in Africa and now the platform is used in 132 countries. Let's explore what the future of real time data can be," she said.

Ushahidi, which is a Swahili word for testimony, was first put into practice during the 2007-2008 post-election crisis and has since been used in Chile, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Pakistan and Haiti and this year saw it grow into a strong international organisation with worldwide branches.

Michael Joseph, the former CEO of Safaricom and currently the MD of mobile money at Vodafone, was named in the science category.

"Mobile changes lives. It also transforms societies and economies. A 10 per cent increase in mobile penetration in a country equates to a 1.2 per cent increase in GDP," he said.

Joseph, who spent a decade as chief executive of Safaricom, championed one of the truly remarkable African revolutions in recent memory.

"I think I am breaking stereotypes and putting dark-skinned girls like me on the map. I represent all the dark little African girls who have low self-esteem and feel they have to be light-skinned to be accepted and beautiful," Ajuma Nasenyana said.

Her first foray into modeling was in the Miss Tourism Kenya competition in 2003, where she was crowned Miss Nairobi and is today an African supermodel who has managed to work with some of the biggest names in prime fashion.

In 2011, she was named African Fashion International's top model and the Africa Fashion Week Model of the Year 2012. She was feted in the arts and culture category.

David Rudisha and Tegla Lorupe were named in the sports category alongside Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba, Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich, South Africa's Oscar Pistorius and Cote d'Ivoire Didier Drogba among others.

Rudisha, the current Olympic and world record holder in the 800 metres as well as the current World and Olympic Champion at the distance, became the first human being to run the 800 metres in under 1.41 for the event.

On August 9 at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Rudisha led from start to finish to win gold in what was acclaimed 'The Greatest 800 Metre Race Ever'. "It was easy for the others to get fast times because they just have to follow. I was pacing them the whole race," Rudisha said.

Lorupe, who is now retired, holds the world records for 20, 25 and 30 kilometres and previously held the world marathon record.

In 2006, she was named a United Nations Ambassador of Sport by Secretary General Kofi Annan, together with Roger Federer, tennis champion from Switzerland, Elias Figueroa, Latin American soccer legend from Chile, and Katrina Webb, Paralympics gold medalist from Australia. She is an International Sports Ambassador for the IAAF, the International Association of Athletics Federations, and for Unicef.

"It seems the world has forgotten to realise what is important and about the true meaning of sharing," she said. She has established a school, Tegla Loroupe Peace Academy and orphanage for children, in Kapenguria.

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