Abiy tops list of African disruptors as Magufuli named 'authoritarian reformer'

In Summary

• According to the report, Abiy ended the war with neighbouring Eritrea (which won him the Nobel Peace Prize) and has taken a strong line on the GERD dam with Egypt.

• “In two years Abiy has achieved much, but he is also juggling mounting security issues at home and abroad. This has taken him from being a symbol of unity to treading a thin line between order and authoritarianism,” read the report.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Image: FILE

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahemed has topped the list of top 50 African disruptors.

In the latest release by the Africa Report featuring politicians, athletes, investigative journalists, techies and business barons who are changing the rules of the game – some for better and others for worse - Abiy is recognised for his determination to ensure peace and stability across the region.

According to the report, Abiy is perceived as a dynamic reformer and an adept diplomat and Prime Minister who is at the heart of tectonic change in Ethiopia and in the region. “The country was starting to outgrow the governing and economic model that had turned it into East Africa’s largest economy. Cue Abiy’s great opening: of the economy to foreign investment, the landlocked country to ports in the Horn of Africa, the state to differing opinions, and the region to new dynamics,” the report notes.

According to the report, Abiy ended the war with neighbouring Eritrea (which won him the Nobel Peace Prize) and has taken a strong line on the GERD dam with Egypt. “In two years Abiy has achieved much, but he is also juggling mounting security issues at home and abroad. This has taken him from being a symbol of unity to treading a thin line between order and authoritarianism,” read the report.

Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote is ranked second for a vibrant refinery system that has been a game changer in the energy market in West Africa since 2016.

While Angola’s President João Lourenço is ranked third place for pulling a switchblade on his former protector on the day of his inauguration, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo and his Cote d’Ivoire counterpart Alassane Ouattara are ranked fourth for their joint projects that are shaking up the region.

For instance in Cocoa, Akufo-Addo and his francophone neighbour are working together to disrupt the international market for the soft commodity and better protect the livelihoods of West Africa’s many cocoa farmers.

South Africa’s technology king Koos Bekker is ranked in the sixth position while Algerian protestors taking the seventh position.

According to the report, Libya’s military offender Khalifa Haftar is ranked eighth place while Tanzania’s John Pombe Magufuli raked in at ninth place.

Magufuli is named as an authoritarian reformer having shaken things up in Tanzania from day one – when he arrived unannounced in various civil-servant offices, and started slapping tax writs on bill dodgers.

The report says Magufuli currently faces criticism from international human rights’ groups for his increasingly authoritarian attitude, particularly his repression of the press, freedom of speech, and his anti-LGBTQ+ stance. “In Tanzania, despite this, he is celebrated for economic reform – the country of 58 million people now boasts one of the highest economic growth rates in Africa,” the report said.

“Magufuli set an example by cutting his own salary from $15,000 to $4,000 per month, has ensured that civil servants turn up for work and has made it easier to do business. He has taken full advantage of Chinese financial help, and has embarked on a vast programme of infrastructure development, particularly in the rail industry,” the report read in part.

South Africa’s opposition leader Julius Malema closes the top 10 on the list.

Malema is termed as a leader of what is now the third-largest party in both houses of the South African Parliament, with 44 seats in the National Assembly.“Julius Malema is aiming for at least 10 million votes in 2024. The country’s demographics put him and his Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in a strong position. Disruptive in every sense of the word – the EFF’s red boiler suits are often seen storming or walking out of parliamentary sessions,” the report said.

Joseph Kabila, Félix Tshisekedi and Bobi Wine are also featured for their power struggle while , Bolaji Akinboro, Ken Njoroge, DPP Noordin Haji, Eliud Kipchoge, Peter Njonjo and Edward Macharia are also featured for their success in technology, politics, sports and fight against crime.