What is influence and how do you measure it? It will always be hard to agree on a common understanding and meaning of influence. Understandably, this always generates wide debate.
How do we determine these people’s influence? And why does it matter that we assemble this list, you may ask. One yardstick we used was to emphasise that influence is not about popularity and popularity is not always influential. The influencer’s impact on public, social and political discourse, however, is what largely helps us determine their influence. They contributed in redefining the African narrative in 2013 and we feel they will play a big role in 2014 – hopefully, for Africa’s good.
Redi Tlhabi, TV Host – South Africa
Every week, she stirs up a new discourse about Africa and the global world with her show, South 2 North, an African current affairs programme which airs on Al Jazeera English. The show explores different themes from week to week on an eclectic mix of issues, from politics to music, art, health, science, technology. She is also the presenter of the popular Redi Tlhabi show on Talk Radio 702, listened to by millions of South Africans every morning. Her debut book, Endings and Beginnings, about making a painful journey back to her death-marred childhood in Orlando East, during apartheid rule, has recently been published and there are already reports that it is being adapted into a feature film. Watch this space.
“I am passionate about my show, as every day I occupy a privileged position that gives me a chance to talk to people from all walks of life and get a sense of what makes our nation tick! I love politics and being a part of our country’s evolution.”
Koos Becker, Media Mogul
In 2013, CEO Jacobus Petrus “Koos” Bekker’s worth was elevated to billionaire status after he transformed the Cape Town-based Naspers media company into the world’s largest emerging market media company. Becker took control of the company in 1997, and started investing heavily in digital technology, which has paid off. M-Net, the pay TV channel popular across Africa, is one of the continent’s most influential media groups, and the only truly global one. Naspers’ investments into an array of global companies focusing on the internet have transformed the group’s fortunes.
“South Africa is a bit of a laggard because of our poor broadband infrastructure, which is a function more of regulation than anything else. For the first time our e-commerce business in Indonesia had more hits from mobile phones than from PCs and in Nigeria the trend is very sharp.”
Komla Dumor, Newscaster – Ghana
It has been a coming of age for Kumla Dumor this year. The presenter of Focus on Africa, the BBC’s flagship and first-ever dedicated daily TV news programme in English for African audiences, broadcast on BBC World News, has established himself as one of the emerging African faces of global broadcasting. As a lead presenter for BBC World, Dumor has considerable influence on how the continent is covered.
“There’s so much more to tell about Africa than the usual stories about war, famine and disease.”
Khanyi Dhlomo, Media Mogul – South Africa
Khanyi Dhlomo is one of Africa’s leading female media moguls. She is the founder and managing director of Ndalo Media, which publishes high-end business and lifestyle magazines, Destiny and Destiny Man. Dhlomo was the founding editor on both titles. Ndalo Media also publishes the South African Airways inflight magazine, Sawubona. She made history in 1995 when she became the first black newsreader for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC1). She later moved on to become the editor of True Love magazine.
She is undoubtedly one of the most successful women in Africa. One of her defining moments in 2013 was the launch of her controversial luxury fashion store, Luminance.
“I am an entrepreneur at heart and enjoy bringing innovative business ideas to life that address a gap in the market.”
Alex Okosi, Media Executive – Nigeria
Credited as the man who brought MTV Base to Africa, Alex Okosi is responsible for managing the development and growth of Viacom’s multichannel entertainment portfolio that includes MTV Base, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, which spans across 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Under his leadership, the network has reached over 90 million viewers across the continent. MTV Base has made an undeniable impact on contemporary African music with its commitment to talent development, world-class audio and glossy video production values that have contributed to the appealing aesthetics of what viewers hear and see today. An advocate and supporter of initiatives that motivate, empower and educate Africa’s youth, Okosi has been the driving force behind popular shows such as Shuga, the award-winning TV drama and multimedia campaign designed to change the sexual behaviour of African youth.
“I believe it’s a lot easier to be successful through your own voice. You don’t have to wake up in the morning and try to be someone else. You are able to use your culture and who you are to tell your story. The reality is we are telling our own stories now, in a way that’s accessible and we are not losing the meaning and we are not losing our voice.”
Julie Gichuru, Journalist – Kenya
A lawyer turned journalist, Julie Gichuru has worked across different media platforms, print, radio and broadcast, making her a household name in Kenya. She is continuously working on redefining the style and delivery of news in the country. Her courteous and amicable interview technique has occasionally been criticised for lacking journalistic punch and depth, although it is this approach which has endeared her to Kenyan hearts. This mother of 5 has won wide acclaim and is regularly invited to host and speak at international events – she is no doubt deserving the praise of being a true ambassador for Africa. She is also very active through her foundation across different areas, from maternal healthcare to capacity building in the areas of health and hygiene.
“If you look closely, stories around Africa replicate, slowly, the mindset is changing and Africans realise that they must make connections to go forward.”
Amadou Mahtar Ba, CEO, AMI – Senegal
Amadou Ba is still one of the region’s most influential media men. As head of the African Media Initiative (AMI), he is possibly the best connected person in the media sphere, with access to the biggest media owners operating across the continent. The Senegalese founder of AllAfrica.com has also become the go-to man for many media-related issues, including press freedom and the development of the media sector, be it in terms of finance, capacity building or the strengthening of journalistic ethics in Africa. Ba is increasingly using his clout to press African leaders to pay more attention to the development of the media industry.
“Technology saves lives. That’s why the media must tech-adapt to also stay relevant.”
Mosunmola Abudu, TV Host – Nigeria
Moments with Mo, a TV lifestyle talk show that has gained popularity and prominnence over the last few years, has this year spread its wings further as host Mosunmola Abudu, better known as Mo, launched her own TV channel – EbonyLife TV. It has been received with high acclaim and is expected to do even better in 2014. Moments with Mo was the first syndicated daily talk show on African regional television, broadvcasting in 48 countries. Mo has hosted some of the most famous faces from both Africa and internationally. One such international figure is former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
“If you can think it…you can do it.”