The Choiseul Institute of France has put together a ranking of the 100 most promising African business leaders under the age of 40. The think-tank is an independent research centre dedicated to policy analyses and global economic governance. Its mission is to promote the reach and influence of France on the international scene.
This ranking, which will become an annual event, has been inspired by the exceptional growth of African countries and the transformations taking place within the continent, says the organisation’s president, Dr Pascal Lorot.
“Today, we are witnessing the awakening of Africa,” he says. “It is imposing itself as one of the long-term major driving force of global growth.” He says that with its dynamic and thriving companies in every sector, Africa is being transformed and is reinventing itself.
The continent has moved beyond the mere exploitation of raw materials and is today becoming “a more mature and diversified economy. Therefore, all around the continent,” says Dr Pascal Lorot, “great programmes are being launched, projects are being developed, and growth levers are being created.”
He argues that this new paradigm has been made possible by the flood of financing coming from everywhere, but “also and more importantly from those men and women who are main actors of this Africa which is moving forward, which is growing.”
Dr Lorot says that nothing would be possible without “the relentless will, and the impressive competences of those whose actions shape the destiny of their own countries and of the continent”.
“The Choiseul 100 Africa,” he says, “aims to identify those men and women who are 40 years old and below, who are successful and have the ambition of lifting Africa to its highest level of economical, societal and cultural development.”
The institute publishes an annual ranking of the top 100 young business leaders in France but this is first time for Africa. In addition to the top 100 list, there is another one with rankings from 100–200.
Most of the young men and women in the list are heads of companies, investors or initiators of large-scale projects. Antoine Hillion, head of Studies and Innovation at the institute, said entry into the list was not determined solely on the basis of wealth.
“Although these people represent the continent’s young economic elite, what we were looking for really was social influence. These are the people that we believe will shape the contours of the future Africa. What they all have in common is commitment to excellence, innovative approaches and the willingness to make sacrifices in pursuit of their dreams.”
This was a major, year-long project for the institute. It began in the summer of 2013 and the cut-off point was autumn this year. They roped in experts and specialists to help identify candidates for the listing and spent a lot of time and energy checking out facts, figures and claims. They built up a network of volunteers in various African countries. “All together,” says Hillion, “some 25-30 people worked on the project. We had to set out the methodology of the study, search for and identify suitable profiles and work out the rankings.”
To be eligible for consideration, candidates had to be citizens of one of the 54 African states, be 40 years old or younger on 1st January 2014 and be making an active contribution to the economic development of Africa.
Several weighted criteria were taken into account. These included considerations such as: image and reputation, background and skills, power and function, influence and networks, potential and leadership.
The total of the scores obtained in the different categories of criteria determines the position of each laureate in the final ranking.
To produce the ranking, the Institute was supported by companies such as RATP, Yves Rocher, Roland Berger, Necotrans, Eiffage Construction, Groupe BPCE, Clyde & Co and Louvre Hotels Group.
42 out of Africa’s 54 countries are represented in the listing. Countries with the largest number of laureates on the list include: Kenya,18; Nigeria, 18; Morocco, 17; South Africa, 17; and Cameroon, 10. Algeria, Tanzania, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal are also well represented.
The sectors that are best represented include finance, agribusiness, ITC but energy, transport and construction are not as well represented as the potential suggests.