Most Influential Countries In Africa (Top 20)

The recent global events have recent brought Africa into the spotlight; with western and eastern powers jostling to make friends on the continent; the most influential countries in Africa is what everybody wants to know.

Influence is all about leadership; and the ability to get as many people as possible to follow in the path you decide is the best. This is no small matter; winning over Africa’s leading countries means winning over most of the continent; getting them to follow you politically, economically, and otherwise.

Africans know who their leaders are; the question now is who have countries like the USA, Russia, and France come to see as African leaders? This question is answered below.

Most Influential Countries In Africa

1. South Africa

Without a doubt, South Africa has assumed the position of the first nation in Africa; as can be seen by Russia’s recent friendliness; and by America’s strong moves to win back her face. This is the most developed country in Africa in terms of technology, economy, and the structure of her society.

South Africa’s influence dominates the southern part of the continent; it controls the economies of Namibia, Lesotho, and Eswatini, and wields considerable influence on nearby countries such Botswana, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.

In terms of economics; South Africa’s tentacles reach as far as Nigeria where it has a large share in the banking, retail, communications, real estate, and entertainment industries. South Africa maintains friendly relations with every country in Africa; and this good diplomatic ties gives it an edge.

2. Egypt

Egypt is an ancient country; the oldest civilization known to man. It has hundreds of ancient sites which have baffled the world for centuries; and which makes it one of the most visited countries in the world. Egypt is also strategically located; it owns the Suez Canal; which is an important ship crossing.

Egypt is an important country; it is one of Africa’s most developed country in terms of education, technology, infrastructure, and the structure of its society. Egypt also has one of Africa’s most powerful militaries; in terms of disciple, firepower, and leadership.

Egypt’s influence is mostly in the north of the continent; where it leads, countries like Tunisia, Mauritania, and Morocco tend to follow.

3. Nigeria

Nigeria is often called the giant of Africa; it is Africa’s most populous country; and also the most populous Black Country. Back leadership has seen its influence wane somewhat; but it is still one of Africa’s most important countries.

Nigeria is one of the biggest producers of oil on the continent; as things stand now oil is power. Nigeria also has one of the most powerful militaries on the continent, as shown by the Lekki Massacre, and other successful military engagements.

Nigeria’s influence spreads into Benin Republic, Ghana, Niger Republic, chad, and Ghana.

4. Ghana

Ghana has certainly risen in terms of economy over the last 20 years, even it’s once dismal currency is now one of the most prominent Africa. The US has long seen Ghana’s importance in the region; and has strengthened diplomatic relations with the country for many years.

Ghana has welcomed 3 US Presidents within the last 20 years, and dominates the discussion when the US talks about plans towards Africa.

Ghana has a large Atlantic coast, and is a hub for international trade. The country also has gold and oil- the former being the more abundant of the two.

Ghana has a very steady society; the country is very peaceful, and very well organized. It has very good infrastructure, and enjoys the best quality of life in West Africa.

5. Kenya

Kenya is a country in East Africa; it is an English speaking country, with a population of about 53 million people. At first glance it may seem that there is nothing so special about Kenya, after all the country is dependent on tourism for most of its income.

There is a lot special about Kenya; it is one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. Manufacturing, Agriculture, Mining, and Financial Services all contribute to the growth of the economy.

Kenya is the number one country in East Africa; its society is key to the stability of the region, and its influence cuts across its borders into Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.

6. Morocco

Morocco is an interesting country in North Africa; it is a kingdom, and most of its land is desert or arid. Nevertheless, this is quite a rich country; behind South Africa, it is the richest country to be on this list.

Seeking to tap into Moroccan influence, 2 US Presidents have visited Morocco, and many other high ranking officials have also landed in the country. Morocco has earned this influence; it has shown itself worthy over the years.

Morocco has good infrastructure, a good economy, a powerful army, and a very well designed society. Tourism is also an important part of the country; people come in from all over the world to taste the culture, and spend time with the desert tribes.

7. Ethiopia

Ethiopia is another ancient country; one that is unique in that it was never colonized, it resisted bravely, and kept its culture intact. This country is located in Eastern Africa, and has everything it takes to be a great country.

Ethiopia has a population of about 120 million people, and the country is also rich in culture, diversity of landscape, and has plenty of life forms to see.

Ethiopia has a good economy; it is boosted by manufacturing, finance, agriculture, mining, and tourism. There are relics from ancient civilizations scattered across the country, and Ethiopia is also significant as a religious center.

8. Libya

Libya is one of the most important countries in Africa; it has always been a gateway to the continent due to its strategic location in North Africa, which makes it a good link between Europe and Africa.

Libya has abundant oil reserves; and the country is one of the top producers of the energy product on the continent.

Libya used to be Africa’s biggest economy; that was until the American Invasion which damaged the infrastructure, broke the economy, and shattered the society. Even now the country has not recovered so as to be the Libya it once was, but its influence has been growing, especially as it accommodates many people from below the Sahara who come to work in the country.

9. Tanzania

Tanzania is another country in East Africa; it is near Uganda and Kenya. This is a country with a population of about 63 million people, with a land area of about 947,303 km2, and a wide opening into the Indian Ocean.

Tanzania has been growing in importance in the region; its economy is boosted by manufacturing, services, agriculture, and tourism. Tanzania is home to Mount Kilimanjaro; which is Africa’s tallest peak.

Tanzania has the potential to become at par with South Africa in terms of agriculture; the sector is quite developed in the country, and employs about 75 percent of the people. Other African countries may very well depend on Tanzania for maize, wheat, coffee rice, sweet potatoes, bananas, beans sorghum, and sugar cane; thus making this a leader in trade.

10. Congo Democratic Republic

Congo Democratic Republic is a country located in Central Africa. This is a big country by all metrics; it has population of about 111 million people, living in a land area of 2,345,409 km2. This is a French speaking country; and it maintains strong economic ties to France.

However, Congo’s influence has little to do with France; instead it comes from its sheer size, and the power to shape its surroundings after itself. For example; Congo music is popular throughout French Speaking Africa, and even in English speaking Nigeria and Ghana.

Congo is an important country, there is no doubt about that. The country just needs to build on its infrastructure, and empower the people to reach their potentials.

The following a more complete list of the 20 most influential countries in Africa.

Rank Country Location
1 South Africa Southern Africa
2 Egypt North Africa
3 Nigeria West Africa
4 Ghana West Africa
5 Kenya East Africa
6 Morocco North Africa
7 Ethiopia East Africa
8 Libya North Africa
9 Tanzania East Africa
10 Congo Democratic Republic Central Africa
11 Tunisia North Africa
12 Ivory Coast West Africa
13 Algeria North Africa
14 Senegal West Africa
15 Rwanda East Africa
16 Angola Southern Africa
17 Mali West Africa
18 Uganda East Africa
19 Mozambique Southern Africa
20 Cameroon Central Africa

Further Reading:


The most influential countries in Africa usually have something that other countries want; for example, countries with access to the sea may have strong influence over their landlocked neighbors. Nevertheless, some have achieved influence without the threat of blockades just by being prosperous and so well organized that other countries want to be associated with them.

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