In Africa, South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, and Nigeria have remained the 5 most influential countries in Africa year after year. But currently, some other developing African countries have caught up and found their rhythm within the exclusive group of Africa’s most influential countries.

In order for a person to be influential, he must first have clearly identifiable character traits with which he can be distinguished. In a similar fashion; an influential country must have clearly identifiable political characteristics, as well as social and cultural identifying factors with which it stands out from all other countries.

When these identifying markers become evident in other countries, then one is able to estimate the measure of the influence a country has over its neighbors.

Most Influential Countries In Africa

1. South Africa

South Africa is perhaps the most important country in Africa. This country located at the Southern Tip of the continent is very influential because of its stable and fast-developing economy. People from every corner of the continent come to South Africa to work and study, on a scale not seen in any other part of the continent.

South Africa is also influential on the global scale; South Africans have been known to control the gold trade from their mansions in Johannesburg, dictating the prices in Brussels and Antwerp.

Johannesburg is also one of the most important centers of the fashion industry; which means the financial sector, as well as hospitality and entertainment industries also get to be boosted.

2.  Nigeria

Nigeria is the most populous black nation in the world, with a population estimated to be around 200 million. The country wields great influence to other countries in the West African sub region.

For a long time Nigeria has been involved in the political and military activities of the region; it has spearheaded peacekeeping missions in Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as a diplomatic intervention in Togo.

Economically, Nigeria has the biggest market on the continent; and so manufacturers from all over the world want their products in the Nigerian market.

Nigerian financial institutions and communications companies have a strong footing in most of the countries in the West African sub region, and then Nollywood and the Nigerian Music Industry have far reaching influence on the continent and beyond.

3.  Egypt

Egypt is one of the most prominent countries North Africa. In the 70’s and 80’s this used to be a liberal country; one of the centers of learning, of discovery and of culture on the continent.

Egypt’s influence comes from the fact that it is one of the most developed countries in Africa. As a result of that, most other countries look up to Egypt as an example of what a

On January 25, 2011, when thousands of Egyptians marched on the streets of Cairo, the movement culminated into the Arab Spring, and brought a wave of change to most of North Africa, and even the Middle East.

Egypt is also quite important globally for tourism, trade, manufacturing, and sports.

4.  Ethiopia

Ethiopia is an ancient civilization which emerged about the same time as Egypt. However, Ethiopia has remained African. Today, Ethiopia is one of the most influential countries in Africa as a center of culture, of history, and of African Greatness. This country defeated European colonialist several times, until they learnt to leave it alone.

Ethiopia has its own version of Christianity that was never influenced or enforced by Europeans. Many of the bible texts were translated directly from the ancient texts, and are sought after by Christian scholars from all over the world.

Ethiopia is therefore a Mecca for Christians as they come from all over the world to pray at revered sites, to listen to sermons, and to read ancient texts. Ethiopia is also very well developed socially; the financial system, politics, education, and tourism sectors are all developed to international standards.

5.  Morocco

Morocco has a lot of influence in North Africa and the Arab World. This used to be the center of a vast empire, and it is still very important culturally.

Morocco has a very good economy; it is one of the richest countries in Africa by GDP per capita. This economic stability and the peaceful, friendly nature of the people make Morocco one of the most interesting places on the continent.

Morocco has positioned itself as a prosperous country; and a hub for tourism. The country has very good infrastructure, and the hotel industry is very competitive, while maintaining a unique North African appeal with its architecture, cuisine, and culture.

Morocco is making political alliances with West Africa, to increase its political influence, and to create more economic opportunities.

6.   Kenya

Kenya is the biggest economy in East Africa. While the country still has a lot to do in order to find a solution to the issue of poverty; it is already very significant in Africa.

Kenya has a diversified economy that includes sectors like manufacturing, agriculture, trade, and tourism. The major cities like Nairobi and Mombasa are very developed; commercial centers, transportation systems, real estate, and entertainment are some areas that are very well developed.

7.  Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is very influential when it comes to Pan-Africanism. Of course the media has painted a bleak picture of starving people; and the country has been faced by economic challenges over the years.

Nevertheless, whenever the issue of African survival without European aid comes up, Zimbabwe will be the first country to be mentioned.

Zimbabwe has been in the forefront of championing the cause of the indigenous peoples of Africa; as against the economic obstacles that have been placed on Africa. Zimbabwe has championed total independence from Europe, and has called on African states to improve and increase trade with one another so as to ensure self reliance.

8.  Libya

10 years ago Libya was perhaps the most influential country in Africa. Things have changed quite quickly- there was a civil war which broke the country socially, if not politically.

But economically speaking, Libya is making a rebound. The country already is already regaining its former shape in the areas of commerce, finance, and industry.

Libya is not very far away from Spain and Italy; which is why it is a gateway for illegal immigration. Nevertheless, due to the high number of Africans trying to make their way into Europe, Libya is a very important country; and whatever policies are decided in this country will affect the shape and outlook of most of the continent.

9.  Uganda

Uganda’s influence is more military than anything else. While Kenya may be the dominant economic power in East Africa, Uganda is the dominant military force.

Uganda was one of the few countries who sent a military force to do something about the Rwandan Genocide in 1993. If not for that intervention the situation might have been even worse.

Till today, there is a thriving Rwandan community in Uganda, who regularly mark the anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide.

Uganda has also been instrumental in stopping the escalation of tension in Kenya recently. Uganda is therefore very important in maintaining the peace of the East African sub-region.

10.  Tanzania

Tanzania is a country located in East Africa. The country has gradually increased its sphere of influence over the last few years because of the rapid pace of economic development.

Tanzania has also made very notable social reforms which made it have a clear direction and a clear role of government. For example, several key moves were made by the government during the Covid 19 pandemic, and the results were there to be seen.

The government stepped in by suspending taxation, providing aid to farmers, and distributing hygiene kits, and even food items.

Tanzania has now become an attraction for those curious to see how an African government can work in the interests of the people.



The most influential countries in Africa do not necessarily have to earn the title by military engagement. Influence is all about getting people to do what you want, without applying force. Ironically; people are more inclined to obey a person when they know that he possesses the force to deal with them, even if he refuses to use it.