Powerful women are more and more numerous on the African continent. Here is the selection of the magazine Jeune Afrique of the 50 most influential African women in the world:



Agro industry

  • Anta Babacar Ngom

(Senegal. Executive Director, Sedima)

The 33-year-old leader, educated in France and Canada, is taking the family-run poultry and real estate business, which she joined in 2009 and has been leading since January 2016, to new heights. In the same year, Sedima invested $ 29 million in two new industrial units (a flour mill and a slaughterhouse). Present in Mali, Equatorial Guinea and Congo, Sedima is leading West Africa within a few years.

  • Miriem Bensalah-Chaqroun

(Morocco. General Director, Oulmès Mineral Water Company)

This woman of character has many hats, including those of pilot plane and Harley-Davidson, humanitarian and golf player of good level, but she became known primarily to the public as the first “patroness” Moroccan bosses “, leading the General Confederation of Enterprises of Morocco (CGEM) from 2012 to May 2018. Miriem Bensalah-Chaqroun pilot the Mineral Water Company of Oulmès, leader of the mineral water sector in Morocco, subsidiary of the group Holmarcom, founded by his father, Abdelkader Bensalah. She is also a director of the French Suez and Renault groups.

  • Ghislane Guédira Bennouna

(Morocco. Vice President of OCP) 

This financial engineering specialist is both a financial manager and executive vice-president of the continent’s largest fertilizer producer. It must ensure that there is no cash flow problem, as OCP acquires a 20% stake in Spanish Fertinagro Biotech, and has committed a 3.7 billion investment plan dollars in Ethiopia.

  • Kate Kanyi-Tometi Fotso

(Cameroon. CEO, Telcar Cocoa)

With her late husband, André Fotso, she was the most powerful couple in the country. She runs Telcar, a joint venture with agribusiness giant Cargill, which controls almost a third of the local cocoa export market. She is a shareholder of Ecobank Cameroun and sits on the Board of Directors of the Autonomous Port of Kribi.

  • Tabitha Karanja

(Kenya. Managing Director, Keroche Breweries)

Tackling multinationals to create the only brewery owned by a Kenyan is a big challenge. After a debut in wine-based appetizers, Karanja launched Summit Lager, whose success allowed the company to expand its plant, at a cost of $ 29 million. eventually, the company will be able to produce 110 million liters. This success does not yet allow him to overshadow the local leader East African Breweries, a subsidiary of the drinks giant Diageo.

  • Rita Maria Zniber

 (Morocco. CEO, Diana Holding)

As CEO of Diana Holding (spirits, agribusiness), Zniber hit hard by rising in 2014 and 2015 to the capital of the French company Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits. Its goal is to internationalize Morocco’s oldest wine and spirits company while retaining control of the value chain, from production to distribution.


  • Janine Kacou Diagou

(Ivory Coast. General Manager, NSIA)

Leading the largest insurance company in francophone Africa is not enough for him. In November 2017, she was appointed president of the former West African subsidiaries of the Nigerian Diamond Bank, acquired by NSIA. The founder’s daughter claims to have been used to being in the shadow of her father.

  • Ghita Lahlou

(Morocco. Director Saham Assurances, Central School of Casablanca)

The director of Saham Assurances, who heads the health and outsourcing branches, does not just spend her energy in the insurance sector. She is the president of the civil society platform Les Citoyens. She is also in charge of the Casablanca Central School, an engineering school opened in 2015.

  • Lizé Lambrechts

(South Africa. Executive Director, Santam)

The former executive director of Sanlam Personal Finance is head of South Africa’s short-term insurer, owned by insurance giant Sanlam. In March, Santam co-hosted with its parent company when it took control of Morocco’s Saham, giving it the opportunity to become a bigger player in other African markets.

  • Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita

(South Africa. President, Alexander Forbes Group) 

Nyembezi-Heita, who started out as an engineer at IBM, really took off when she started doing business. After joining the management of Alliance Capital Management Asset Manager, she became head of ArcelorMittal South Africa and then IchorCoal. She chairs the board of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and that of the insurance company Alexander Forbes Group Holdings (first woman in this position).

  • Delphine Traoré Maidou

(Burkina Faso. Director of Operations, Allianz Africa)

The insurance expert is the eyes and ears of Allianz on the continent. She has served as General Manager of Allianz Global & Specialty since 2012 and has become the company’s first director of operations for Africa. Allianz is active in seventeen African countries and in 2017 bought the majority stake in the Nigerian Ensure Insurance.

  • Nadia Fettah

(Morocco, Managing Director, Saham Finance )

The meteoric rise of Nadia Fettah did not surprise those who knew her. From insurance advice to entrepreneurship, Fettah has earned a reputation for efficiency and a sense of responsibility. In March 2017, she was appointed head of the Moroccan insurance giant Saham Finances, as well as that of Saham Assurance Maroc. To conquer the markets of the continent, this Moroccan imposed her vision of an approach centered on the demands of local customers. “In the past, insurers have imported, without adapting, an old industry on the youngest continent in the world. But the African client has very different needs! She argues.


  • Selma Babbou

(Tunisia. General Manager, Amen Group) 

An IHEC graduate accountant, Selma Babbou occupies a strategic position in the third largest Tunisian conglomerate present in the agribusiness, health and banking sectors. In 2017, she notably steered the exit of the SFI from the capital of Amen. The director also sits on the board of directors of the African Car Loan Corporation.

  • Wided Bouchamaoui

( Tunisia. Director, HBG Holding)

Previously head of the Tunisian Union of Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts (Utica), representing some 150,000 companies in the country, she played an active role in the transition after the Jasmin revolution. 2011. Wided Bouchamaoui received the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Utica, along with three other members of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, for their role in consolidating democracy in the country. She is a director of the HBG family conglomerate, founded by her father, Hedi Bouchamaoui, who is very diversified in many sectors, including the automobile, mass market and real estate sectors.

  • Saïda Karim Lamrani

(Morocco. Executive Vice President, Safari-Sofipar-Cofimar)

The lawyer gradually climbed the ladder of the family group founded by her father, Mohammed Karim Lamrani, former Prime Minister. The Safari group includes holding companies in different sectors. She runs Smeia, a dealership that has import rights for Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW and Mazda. She is present on the board of the Fondation Mohammed V.

  • Mama Tajmouati

(Morocco. CEO, Ynna Holding)

At 81, Mama Tajmouati is the most seasoned businesswoman on our list. In 2016, she inherited the empire of her husband, made up of more than thirty companies controlled by Ynna Holding and in which was already very involved. The group covers many sectors (real estate, construction, hospitality, petrochemicals, distribution, etc.), drawing its diversity as an engine of growth.


  • Maidie Arkutu

(Ghana. Vice President Francophone Africa, Unilever)

After three years at the helm of Unilever Ghana, Arkutu became Vice President for Francophone Africa in January 2017. With one idea in mind: to sell more and more Omo laundry and Lipton tea to consumers, especially Ivorians.

  • Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch

(Morocco. CEO, Aksal Group)

The wife of the Moroccan Minister of Agriculture, Aziz Akhannouch is the founder of the Aksal group, specialized in distribution, luxury and shopping centers. The company owns 50% of Morocco Mall Casablanca, where it launched in 2017 its own brand dedicated to beauty, Yan & One.

  • Jalila Mezni

(Tunisia. CEO, Society of Sanitary Articles, SAH Lilac)

This is a businesswoman who does not like light. Yet her success in the wellness products business has made her an influential member of the Tunisian business community. She is indeed one of the few women to lead a listed group. In 2016, SAH received a boost with the acquisition of Abraaj (in liquidation, its assets are taken over by Colony Capital), promising to help it expand into West African markets. But Jalila Mezni does not stop there. Recently, she chose to invest a portion of her own capital in the private education sector.

  • Heather Sonn

(South Africa. President, Steinhoff International) 

President of the South African Investors Association, Sonn is the former managing director of broker Legae Securities. In December 2017, she became Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Steinhoff. Since then, she has had to deal with the fraud scandal that shook the company late last year and led to the resignation of its managing director.


  • Bola Adesola

(Nigeria. Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Nigeria)

With more than twenty-five years of experience, Adesola is a veteran of the banking sector. Before joining Standard Chartered as the boss of her Nigerian subsidiary in 2011, she worked for First Bank Nigeria and Citibank in Nigeria and Tanzania. Adesola was recently appointed Deputy Chair of the UN Global Compact Initiative Steering Committee, the largest corporate gathering for sustainable development.

  • Patience Akyianu

(Ghana. Director General, Barclays Ghana)

After five years at Barclays’ Ghanaian subsidiary, Akyianu, the first woman to hold the position, will leave the bank in September. She will head the insurer Hollard Ghana Holdings. The goal will be to make his company one of the leaders in the sector.

  • Ibukun Awosika

(Nigeria. President First Bank Nigeria)

Awosika is the first woman to hold the PCA position at First Bank Nigeria. A multiple award-winning leader, she is the founder and executive director of the Chair Center Group, which provides office furniture and security systems for banks. Awosika is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Entrepreneur Network and the author of the book Business, His Way, which showcases a Christian business approach.

  • Abiola Bawuah

(Nigeria. Director General, West Africa, UBA)

Bawuah was promoted to head West Africa’s United Bank for Africa region, to lead six countries. Prior to this appointment, she headed the Ghanaian subsidiary, where her performance was hailed with a profit increase of 134% before taxes.

  • Sola David-Borha

(Nigeria. Chief Executive Officer Africa, Standard Bank Group )

Sola David-Borha will be able to show Western banks fleeing Africa that they are making a strategic mistake. The bank she runs, the South African Standard Bank, is expanding extensively in French-speaking Africa. For example, it has just opened a subsidiary in Côte d’Ivoire in April and is planning more in the sub-region.

  • Mosun Belo-Olusoga

(Nigeria. President Access Bank)

President of the Board of Access Bank since July 2015, she joined in November 2007, this Nigerian has more than thirty years of experience in the banking world. She is recognized as an expert in risk management. Previously Head of Investment Banking at GT Bank, she currently sits on the boards of several other institutions, and is a consultant for the KRC Specialized Fund.

  • Aïda Diarra

(Mali. Vice President Africa, Western Union) 

With a taste for business developed from an early age, encouraged by a family entourage accustomed to cross the borders, Aïda Diarra entered in 1999 in Western Union money transfer group, which dominates this sector on the continent. The Malian is betting on “new technologies and new channels” to maintain this leadership position, as it faces a growing number of competitors. In 2016, she explained to JA that she had no intention of leaving Western Union anytime soon, given the “phenomenal African outlook”.

  • Laurence Do Rego

(Benin-France. Director of Commercial Banking, Ecobank) 

After highlighting serious financial problems under the direction of former director Thierry Tanoh, this expert accountant was given the task of eliminating doubtful debts of the commercial banking division. The sector represents 19% of its loans but 39% of its bad debts. The success of the broader reversal of the bank’s strategy will rest heavily on his shoulders.

  • Yvonne Ike

(Nigeria-United Kingdom. Executive Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Bank of America Merill Lynch)

The former Executive Director for West Africa of Renaissance Capital and JPMorgan has over two decades of top-level financial services experience. It will help the bank review its continental exposure after an estimated $ 292 million loss from the loan to South African investor Christo Wiese.

  • Nicky Newton-King

(South Africa. Managing Director, Johannesburg Stock Exchange)

The boss of the largest stock exchange in Africa is busy defending an institution attacked from all sides as a result of numerous scandals, the latest of which is none other than the collapse of Steinhoff International. Nicky Newton-King has since committed to regaining market confidence. In a recent forum, she lamented: “We have become so defiant to those in positions of authority (…) that it is difficult to believe that someone could now act in a different interest than his own. She hopes, however, that an upcoming turnaround in the South African economy will prompt a new series of companies to go public.

  • Catherine Lesetedi

(Botswana. Director General, BIHL)

The director of one of Botswana’s leading financial services groups has a tough job ahead of her, after her investment in microfinance institution Letshego proved to be less profitable than expected. Catherine Lesetedi has led the company since 2016. BIHL has shown double-digit premium growth in 2017. At the same time, it is lobbying the government to strengthen the local financial sector.

  • Huguette Oyini

(Gabon. Deputy Chief Executive Officer, BGFIBank)

After sixteen years at BGFIBank, Oyini is now the number two bank, alongside CEO Henri-Claude Oyima. It oversees the effectiveness of the group’s subsidiaries, which is present in seven African countries. She is also responsible for the digitization of services and must handle the dispute between BGFIBank and the Gabonese company e-Doley, which accuses it of having usurped its mobile payment technology.

  • Maria Ramos

(South Africa. Executive Director, Absa – ex-barclays Africa) 

Previously General Manager of the South African National Treasury, Ramos took over the reins of public transport company Transnet in 2004, which she partially restructures and privatizes. At the helm of Absa since 2009, she now has to supervise the separation with the former British parent company Barclays. Ramos also sits on the board of directors of the luxury company Richemont.

  • Hania Sadek

(Egypt. Director of Operations, HSBC Bank Egypt) 

Executive Director and Director of Operations since 2010, Hania Sadek has risen through the ranks of the Egyptian bank, which she joined in 1983 as head of the IT department. Her thirty-five years of experience and deep understanding of the company make her a powerful woman in the country’s financial landscape.

  • Gloria Serobe

(South Africa. Founder of Wipohld and General Manager, Wipcapital)

Director of Sasol Mining and South African weapons maker Denel, Serobe is known for her contribution to the empowerment of black women. Women Investment Portfolio Holdings (Wiphold), which she founded in 1994, is majority owned by blacks and women.

  • Binta Touré Ndoye

(Mali. General Manager, Oragroup) 

The banker headed the Malian and Togolese subsidiaries of Ecobank before becoming head of Oragroup, owned by Emerging Capital Partners. Its mission is to accelerate the growth of the bank and expand its clientele of SMEs and individuals through the digitization of offers.

  • Mary Vilakazi

(South Africa. Director of Operations, FirstRand) 

Accountant Mary Vilakazi was hired by FirstRand in March as Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the MMI Financial Group. as of July 1, she will be the only woman to sit on the executive board. She is responsible for internal audit, regulation and enterprise risk management, as well as strategy in insurance and the rest of Africa.


  • Sharon Wapnick

(South Africa. Founding Partner, Tugendhaft, Wapnick Banchetti and Partners) 

Sharon Wapnick built her empire through her father’s wealth and her own work. A real estate tycoon, Alec Wapnick founded City Property, of which Sharon is now a director. She is also President of Octodec Investments, a Johannesburg-based REIT, a lawyer and a senior partner with TWB.


  • Maria Luisa Perdigão Abrantes

(Angola. Director, U.S.-Africa, Business Center) 

Ex-wife of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos and former president of the National Agency for Private Investment (ANIP), Perdigão Abrantes remains halfway between business and politics. In 2016, she was appointed non-executive director of the U.S.-Africa Business Center, a program of the US Chamber of Commerce aimed at increasing trade and investment between Africa and the world’s leading power.


  • Martine Coffi-Studer

(Ivory Coast. Director, Bolloré Africa Logistics Ivory Coast) 

Well connected, the former Minister of Communication Ivorian was confirmed in May to the post she has held since 2014. She recently won a victory in the courts in the conflict with Adama Bictogo, concerning a plot of land. located in Abidjan. His role was decisive in obtaining the contract for the second terminal of the port of Abidjan. Founder of the Ocean Ogilvy communications agency, she is on the board of ten other companies.


Oil sector


  • Folorunsho Alakija

  • (Nigeria. Vice Chairman of the Board, Famfa Oil)

Forbes magazine ranked Alakija as the second richest woman in Africa with a fortune estimated in January 2018 at $ 1.6 billion. The Famfa oil junior, which owns 60% of the Agbami offshore field, constitutes the bulk of its assets. Alakija has also invested in publishing and fashion.

  • Ada Eze

(Nigeria. Executive Vice President, Total West Africa) 

She is one of the most senior women in the African oil sector. Under his leadership, Total explored new projects in Guinea and Mauritania. Ada Eze also chairs Total Senegal, which signed a contract for a deepwater exploration block in May 2016.

  • Amy Jadesimi

(Nigeria. Executive Director, Ladol)

Nigeria is coming out of a great recession and oil prices are on the rise, which is good news for Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics, which provides services to the oil industry. To seize these new opportunities, Amy Jadesimi plans in the next two years to list the company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, to develop its operations, especially on the 100 hectares of its free zone.


  • Hend El Sherbini

(Egypt. Executive Director, Integrated Diagnostics Holdings)

Excellent in the fields of medicine and business, El Sherbini successfully introduced on the stock market the company she founded at the London Stock Exchange in 2015. The operation has valued the company that provides diagnostic services in Egypt, Jordan and Sudan for $ 668 million. In late 2017, IDH entered into a partnership with Man Capital and IFC to acquire Echo-Scan.

  • Lamia Tazi

(Morocco. Director General, Sothema) 

A pharmacist by training, Lamia Tazi heads the Moroccan group founded by her father, Omar Tazi. It restructured the company’s export department, while overseeing the start-up of the Dakar plant and the production of cancer drugs. at the end of May, she was elected general secretary of the Moroccan Association of Pharmaceutical Industry.


  • Yolanda Cuba

(South Africa. CEO of Vodafone Ghana) 

She is one of South Africa’s most respected business executives, appointed at 29 as the CEO of Mvelaphanda Group, a conglomerate founded by Tokyo Sexwale politician. She became CEO of Vodafone Ghana in 2016, after serving as Executive Director of South African Breweries, a subsidiary of SABMiller.

  • Nadia Fassi-Fehri

(Morocco. Executive Director, Inwi) 

The manager of royal companies launched in May a scathing attack against Maroc Telecom, filing a lawsuit for ignoring the regulation on infrastructure sharing. The leader plans to invest more than $ 200 million a year to challenge competitors Morocco Telecom and Orange, by betting on mobile broadband internet. Objective: to capture more revenue from the data, a segment with rapid growth.

  • Elisabeth Medou-Badang 

(Cameroon. Area Director and Spokesperson Middle East and Africa, Orange)

The Cameroonian climbed with impressive regularity the echelons of the French telecom operator. In 2009, Elisabeth Medou-Badang becomes CEO of Orange Botswana. In 2013, she returned to her home country to become CEO of Orange Cameroon. And this year, she is appointed Area Director and Spokesperson for Orange Africa and the Middle East. A position she hopes to use to further deploy the digital revolutions and mobile money in progress.

  • Felleng Sekha

(South Africa. Director of Regulation and Public Affairs, MTN)

Back in MTN, which she left in 2007 after participating in her expansion in Nigeria, Sekha took the helm of a brand new department created specifically for this telecom law expert. She was also vice-president of the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

  • Irene Charnley

(South Africa, Managing Director, Smile Telecoms)

The boss of Smile Telecoms has an innate gift for the organization. A former trade unionist, she entered the business world by creating the National Empowerment Consortium (NEC), a structure targeting those whom apartheid had excluded from the control of the economy. NEC then acquired 35% of Johnnic Holdings, of which Charnley was executive director, who in turn took a stake in the future telecoms giant MTN and which will also contribute to its listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.


Source : Jeune Afrique

Keywords : Africa, News, Economy, African Women, Leaders, Influential Women

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