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Meet The Young African Politicians Who Are Changing The Continent's Landscape

By Zaina Adamu

In Africa, a new movement is taking place and young politicans are at the center of the change. Politics, an industry dominated by men over the age of 60, is now resonating with a more youthful audience who are taking steps to run for office, and are winning. From a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner to women making waves, learn more about the burgeoning new camp of political talent taking the continent by force.

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Abiy Ahmed

Serving as the youngest and 15th prime minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 for his staunch efforts to build international peace, cooperation and for his unrelenting efforts to resolve the border conflict with neighboring country, Eritrea. The 43-year-old former army intelligence officer began his political career as a congress member of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) before quickly rising to power as Minister of Science and Technology in 2015. Three years later, he was sworn in as Prime Minister of Ethiopia. He was also honored with the Order of the Zayed Medal, United Arab Emirates’ highest civil decoration from the UAE’s Crown Prince.

Rania Al-Mashat

Rania Al-Mashat is the Egyptian Minister of Tourism, and she began her career as an economist for the IMF, a role she accepted at just 25-years-old. At the request of Egypt’s Minister of Investment, Al-Mashat was tapped to serve as the sub-governor and head of the Monetary Policy Department for the Central Bank of Egypt. Following the 2011 Arab Spring, she helped in developing and presenting the Government’s Economic Program, then moved back to Washington D.C. five years later to serve as the IMF’s chief economist. In 2018, she returned back to Egypt where she was appointed Minister of Tourism, helping to bridge the gender divide in the Cabinet, which currently holds six women.

Bobi Wine

Thirty-seven-year old Ugandan musician, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, better known as Bobi Wine, first gained stardom in East Africa for his eclectic reggae, dancehall and Afrobeats-style music. But in 2017, he caught the political bug when he announced his candidacy for Parliament in one of the country’s local constituencies. Pundits believe his door-to-door walking campaign led to his win by a wide margin, clinching the role against two veteran candidates in the NRM (National Resistance Movement) and FDC (Forum for Democratic Change) parties. In 2019, one of Uganda’s Daily Monitor named him male politician of the year, and he also earned a spot on Time 100 Next list.

bobi wine portrait

Kamissa Camara

Thirty-six-year-old Kamissa Camara is currently Mali’s Minister of Digital Economy and Planning, a role she is serving after being appointed a diplomatic advisor to Mali’s President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. She also served as Minister for Foreign Affairs, and was the youngest person and first female to hold the post. Prior to that role, she worked at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems where she oversaw the 2013 Malian presidential elections. She was a member of the Center for African Studies at Harvard University and served as the Director for Sub-Saharan Africa at PartnersGlobal.

Chike Ukaegbu

Nigerian-born Chike Ukaegbu boasts two Ivy league degrees from both Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania, and at the age of 35, he announced his bid to run for president of Nigeria during the 2019 elections. Ukaegbu was among 72 candidates who went up against the sitting president, Muhammadu Buhari. He ultimately lost, but he still holds a seat in political office as Nigeria’s Advanced Allied Party (AAP) Presidential flag bearer. He was sworn in as president of the party last year.

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