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Faith Nyasuguta 

In a world where impact knows no bounds, five influential Africans have risen to the forefront, steering some of the most influential and transformative organizations on earth.

Their journeys have been marked by unwavering excellence, propelling them to the zenith of their respective careers.

Its important to note that these trailblazers are just a fraction of the incredible African talents shaping the globe. While there is a multitude of noteworthy individuals making significant contributions worldwide, our focus remains on these five outstanding leaders.

Their stories serve as an inspiring testament to the potential and achievements emanating from the African continent.

1. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO)

At the helm of our list is Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. Hailing from Ethiopia, Dr. Tedros has showcased unparalleled leadership, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With a strong background in public health and global collaboration, he has steered the world towards better health outcomes, making him a true symbol of impactful African leadership on a global scale.

2. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)

In the second spot, we have Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a distinguished Nigerian. She made history in March 2021 by becoming the first African woman to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO). Her academic journey took her from Nigeria to prestigious institutions like Harvard and MIT, culminating in a Ph.D. in Economics & Development.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s extensive career includes roles at the World Bank and as Nigeria’s Finance Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Besides heading the WTO, she holds board positions in influential organizations like Standard Chartered Bank, Danone, and Twitter. Her trailblazing leadership across global sectors marks her as a true symbol of African excellence.

3. Makhtar Diop: Managing Director at the International Finance Corporation

Claiming the third spot is Makhtar Diop, a recognized leader in economic and social development.

In 2021, he took the helm as Managing Director of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank Group arm focused on fostering private sector growth in developing countries. Previously, Diop served as the World Bank’s Vice President for the Africa Region, overseeing the delivery of a record-breaking $70 billion in commitments.

Hailing from Senegal, his remarkable journey from the banking industry to influential global roles underscores his pivotal role in Africa’s economic landscape.

4. Winnie Byanyima: UNAIDS Executive Director

The fourth standout personality is Mrs. Byanyima, a Ugandan aeronautical engineer who currently holds the role of Executive Director at the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS). With her appointment in 2019, she brought her significant experience to this critical position. Prior to this, she led Oxfam International as the Executive Director from 2013 to 2019.


Born in Western Uganda, Mrs. Byanyima’s journey saw her excel in her studies at the University of Manchester, becoming the first Ugandan woman to pursue aeronautical engineering.

A Master’s degree from Cranefield University followed, bolstering her mechanical engineering expertise. Returning to Uganda, she contributed to Uganda Airlines and even piloted combatant planes for the National Resistance Army—an emblem of her multifaceted career.

5. Antoinette Sayeh: Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Dr Sayeh is a Liberian economist and the current Deputy Managing Director of the IMF. Publicly available records show that she has been working with the IMF since 2006 and had previously served as the Director of the IMF’s African Department. She earlier served as Liberia’s Finance Minister under President Ellen Sirleaf.

Antoinette Sayeh holds a PhD in International Economic Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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