TIME Names Ruto, Burna Boy, Max Verstappen Among 100 Most Influential People

Ruto was named alongside another Kenyan, Kennedy Odede, a philanthropist who is also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO).

TIME Names Ruto, Burna Boy, Max Verstappen Among 100 Most Influential People
President William Ruto speaking during a church service on April 9, 2024. /PCS

President William Ruto has been ranked by TIME Magazine among the top 100 most influential people in the world.

The Head of State was on Wednesday, April 17 named alongside another Kenyan, Kennedy Odede, a philanthropist who is also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO).

The world-renowned magazine recognised Ruto as a key voice of Africa’s climate ambitions, hosting a summit in Nairobi in September 2023 that drew leaders from around the globe.

The event concluded with a unanimous agreement from African countries in attendance to rapidly expand renewable energy over the next decade, aided by $23 billion (Ksh3.1 trillion) in pledges to catalyze the continent’s climate goals.

Philanthropist Kennedy Odede. /SHOFCO

"His call for lenders to relieve the debt burden faced by some African countries, thus opening the door for spending on climate solutions, has also made waves.

"But Ruto’s new prominence on the international stage comes amid significant challenges in Kenya, including last summer’s protests against the rising cost of living and a gas-tax increase Ruto spearheaded, as well as this January’s demonstrations against allegations of judicial interference. To continue to make progress abroad, Ruto will need to manage challenges at home too," the magazine described him.

Odede on his part, in a short article written by Mexican-American actress and film producer Salma Hayek Pinault, was termed living proof that individuals can lead themselves, and their communities, out of poverty.

His background, a refugee growing up with no formal schooling in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Kenya, was revealed to give him a deep understanding of his community and others like it, with his work earning him the trust and admiration of all those around him.

"Kennedy finds ingenious solutions: schools for the most vulnerable girls, training programs for men to combat domestic violence, safe houses for survivors, community libraries, employment programs, innovative clean-water kiosks, a community cooperative bank.

"There is no challenge he will not take on. He is an unstoppable force for justice. This dream of hope that started more than 20 years ago in his home in Kibera has now reached more than 3 million Kenyans and is rapidly becoming a blueprint that will one day, hopefully, reach the world—a movement for change led by the people themselves," the magazine described him.

The duo were named alongside an ensemble lineup that includes other prominent Africans who have made an impact on humanity in different fields. Among them is popular musician Burna Boy.

Musicians Dua Lipa and 21 Savage also made the cut, as did British actor Dev Patel, actress Alia Bhatt, American actress Taraji P. Henson, Australian singer Kylie Minogue and Microsoft Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Satya Nadella.

Also included are sports stars Patrick Mahomes, Jenni Hermoso, Siya Kolisi and reigning Formula One champion Max Verstappen.

It is not the first time that President Ruto has received global recognition. Last year, TIME also recognised Ruto for championing climate change.

Following the unveiling of the names, TIME100 plans to celebrate those featured in the list, the event will take place at the TIME100 Summit on April 24, 2024, in New York City. 

While describing the criteria of the selection, the magazine noted it spends months discussing who to include in the list, preferably the team chooses individuals whom they believe have changed the stories that define the past year.

President William Ruto flanked by African Heads of Government during the Africa Climate Summit Declaration at the KICC, Nairobi County on September 6, 2023. /PCS