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Africa's Top 10 CEOs

|Aug 27|magazine12 min read
So who has top-notch reputations in their respective industries and who would be missed if they unexpectedly left their jobs? Read on as we review the leadership behind Africa’s biggest and most successful companies...

1. Jacko Maree, Standard Bank Group
On the top of our list is a 53-year-old at the helm of Africa's largest corporation. FT dubbed him as one of the 50 emerging market business leaders who have helped shape the economic performance in their respective region, and we agree. Maree was closely involved in negotiating the impressive $5.5 billion sale of a 20 percent stake in IBTC Chartered Bank, representing one of the largest Chinese investments in Africa.

2. Pat Davies, Sasol
Next in line is the synthetic fuel giant’s 5-year chief executive. Davies has been responsible for various portfolios, including the globalisation of Sasol's GTL technology, and the group's oil and gas businesses, as well as Sasol Synfuels, Sasol Petroleum International, Sasol Synfuels International and Sasol Technology. He and the Sasol Group Executive Committee have launched a culture-change initiative that aims to entrench value-driven leadership throughout the group.

3. Sizwe Errol Nxasana, FirstRand Limited
With an increase in the amount and complexity of operational issues requiring more attention from the centre, the firm responded accordingly and Nxasana took on the role of FirstRand Ltd’s CEO back in December last year. Filling the boots of what Nxasana described as “businessmen of the calibre of the FirstRand founders”, he has already added significant strength to the Group’s central management team.

4. Phuthuma Nhleko, MTN Group
Nhleko became CEO in 2002 and has since made a major contribution to the development and growth of the mobile ecosystem. Under his leadership, the MTN Group accelerated its expansion programme to become the leader in telecoms in developing markets. In 2002, Nhleko led the management buyout of Transnet's 18.71 percent interest in MTN in a deal valued at R4.3 billion, while in 2006, he saw the company conclude the acquisition of Investcom LLC.

5. Stephen Koseff, Investec Plc
Having joined Investec in 1980, Koseff has gained diverse experience climbing the ranks in the business. Today, he is the CEO, Executive Director, Chairman of Board Risk Review Committee, and Member of Chairman’s Committee, as well as holding a number of other directorships across various leading financial organisations. As the recipient of various business awards, he is also a Chartered Accountant and has earned a B.Com. and an MBA.

6. Johan van Zyl, Sanlam Group
A position held for over seven years, Sanlam’s Group Chief Executive is the former vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Pretoria, and today also holds numerous Non- and Executive Director roles within the Group’s businesses. As Group CEO, he is supported by a Group Executive committee, as well as a small centralised Group Office, and is in charge of strategic directing, coordinating, performance monitoring and capital allocation.

7. Mohamed El Kettani, Attijariwafa Bank
Having begun his professional career with Banque Commerciale du Maroc in 1984, ENSTA engineering graduate El Kettani climbed the ranks while working through the 2004 merger with Wafabank. Later, in 2007, he was appointed Chairman and CEO of what today is Morocco’s largest and Africa’s third largest bank. As someone who is heavily involved in the Group‘s development, El Kettani is also the Chairman or Director of several of Attijariwafa’s subsidiaries.

8. David Brown, Impala Platinum Holdings Limited
Having joined the group in 1999 as Financial Director, Brown demonstrated strong leadership and financial skills that provided a smooth transition into a new era of leadership at Implats when he was appointed CEO back in 2006. He is also a Director of Zimplats Holdings Limited, Mimosa Investments Limited and Two Rivers Platinum (Pty) Limited and a member of the Executive, Risk Management and Hedging Committees.

9. Nassef Sawiris, Orascom Construction Industries
Our list’s longest standing CEO, Egyptian Sawiris has been a Director and the CEO of OCI since its incorporation in 1998, while he also assumed Chairmanship this year. Sawiris has overseen the construction activities of Orascom since 1990 and is one of the largest shareholders in and a Director on the Board of Lafarge S.A., the world's leading building materials conglomerate. He is also a Director of the Dubai International Financial Exchange and NNS Holding.

10. Brian Joffe, Bidvest Group
Since founding Bid Corporation in 1988, Brian served as executive chairman until his appointment as chief executive in 2004. With decades of South African and international commercial experience, he has been one of the Sunday Times' top five businessmen and was voted SA’s Top Manager of the Year in 2002 by Corporate Research Foundation. He also represented South Africa at the coveted Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2003.