Institut Choiseul reveals its top 100 Africa 2021 rankings

Dr Pascal Lorot
Dr Pascal Lorot, founder and president of the Institut Choiseul.

The Institut Choiseul, founded in 2010, is a highly influential body acting as an independent think-tank focusing on economic governance, leadership, and talent networking. Dr Pascal Lorot, its founder and president, talked to African Business about the institute’s work and some key trends in this year’s Choiseul 100 Africa.

For Dr Pascal Lorot, the concept of an institute devoted to the intersection between politics, commerce and institutions was developed after a long and illustrious career as a top banker and a senior economic advisor to the French government.

The Institut Choiseul’s focus has always been to encourage dialogue at the intersection of the political, economic and institutional worlds addressing many contemporary global issues and challenges. It also produces pertinent studies, a highly respected young leaders’ rankings, and organises high-level business events.

Lorot was an advisor to Jacques Attali, the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development between 1990 and 1993 before becoming an advisor to the French Minister of Economy and Finance between 1993 and 1995.

There followed a stint at the French oil giant Total, where he became head of economic studies, and in 2003, he was appointed member of the College of the French Energy Regulation Commission, a seat he held until 2010 when he inaugurated the Institut Choiseul.

Both Russia and Africa are being targeted. Lorot has experience in Russia, where he was a director of the Moscow office of BNP Paribas, and since 2019 his position as Special Representative of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs for economic diplomacy in Central Asia has clearly been invaluable.

As Lorot explains: “Our objective is to work towards the creation of a new type of business dialogue between France and these actors in a context that challenges us to explore new forms of bilateral co-operation.

The Choiseul 100 Africa ranking

But the Institut Choiseul is perhaps best known for the Choiseul 100 Africa, an annual ranking launched in 2014 that identifies the continent’s 100 most talented economic leaders under 40 years old.

“Our motivation was to scrutinise the continent with confidence and optimism and to showcase the formidable assets that Africa possesses,” says Lorot.

“More than a ranking, the Choiseul 100 Africa has become one of the most influential pan-African networks of the young generation comprising 400 active members spread across 46 of the continent’s 54 countries.”

Some of the Choiseul 100 Africa laureates gathered with Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Prime minister of the Republic of the Ivory Coast, during the Choiseul Africa Meeting in Abidjan, 4th and 5th May 2018.

There has been an interesting new development: “We also identify an additional list of 100 more laureates who aspire to join the top 100, as it is impossible to showcase all the talents on the continent with just 100 names.

“To draw up this profile of Africa’s new generation, we call on experts and specialists on the subject. Several criteria are taken into account to select profiles such as reputation, background and skills, position and function, influence and networks, potential and leadership.

“The ranking methodology is dedicated to representing all the African regions and as many countries as possible to identify an elite cohort from across the continent, as well as from all value-creating sectors.”

See the box below for more details of the methodology used to draw up the rankings.

More female laureates

When asked about the main trends that can be identified from the Choiseul 100 Africa, Lorot identifies two main developments.

“One of the main trends is the increasing number of female laureates (about 40% of the laureates) which is not surprising as Africa’s female entrepreneurship rate is the highest in the world.

“These personalities reflect this new generation of women’s excellence, who are entrepreneurs in many sectors and on whom the continent can rely on for a sustainable and inclusive growth.

“Furthermore, we witnessed an increase of laureates from Southern Africa (from nine in 2020 to 16 in 2021) that is in line with the economic outlook for the sub-region, which after being hit hard by the pandemic, with a 6% contraction of its GDP in 2020, has seen its economy rebound in 2021.

Rise of service sector

“Another trend worth considering is the rise of young leaders evolving in services, which accompanies the growth of the African service economy,” says Lorot.

“Indeed, many companies and startups in this field are emerging, regularly mobilising new technologies to facilitate the link between consumers and businesses, promoting sustainable projects thanks to a very high level of expertise.

“All the 16 sectors represented in the ranking obviously contribute to the making of tomorrow’s Africa.

“The laureates of the Choiseul 100 Africa embody the broad spectrum of these fields of activity that underpin the continent’s economic development.

“This year, the most represented sector is industry (13 laureates), followed by finance, energy, and services (12 laureates).

“Finally, institutions are also particularly highlighted with 11 laureates, shedding the light on their major responsibility in supporting countries during the pandemic, but also showing that African excellence can be found in all areas of the economy

“Not only are our laureates playing a leading role in the private sector, they are also shaping the future economic governance of the continent.”

See the full Choiseul 100 Africa list 2021:

The Choiseul 100 Africa: Methodology

The Choiseul 100 Africa is an annual study carried out independently by the Institut Choiseul. It identifies and ranks young African leaders aged 40 and under who will play a major role in the continent’s economic development in the near future.

The work is conducted over several months. The Institut Choiseul contacts experts and specialists on the continent to achieve this ambitious study. It is widely seen as a unique and important survey, and confers considerable prestige upon those who figure in it.

There are specific conditions to be met in order to be considered for the Choiseul 100 Africa rankings. Only profiles meeting the following conditions are selected:

• being a citizen of one of the 54 African states;
• being 40 years old or below on the 31st of December 2021;
• being an active contributor to the economic development of Africa.

To rank the selected profiles, several weighted criteria are taken into account such as the reputation, background and skill of the applicant. Also considered are the function, influence and networks, potential and leadership of the applicants.

The total score obtained in the different categories determines the position of each laureate in the final ranking.

And from this year, a further 100 applicants are being honoured, acknowledging the simple fact that limiting the selection to only 100 is just not viable in a continent that is so rich in its youth’s economic potential.