Most of the world’s current longest-serving presidents are in Africa and these include those that have ruled their countries for at least ten years and above.
It may not be precisely stated why the majority of African leaders prefer an overstay in power and they are so determined to achieve this even if it means going against the constitutions of their countries or changing them to suit their ambitions.
This list is published at a time when some of the continent’s long-serving leaders have just been topped by their own citizens who desired changes that these withering leaders were not ready or able to offer. These include Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, among others.
These are Africa’s current longest-serving presidents who have been in power in their countries for at least ten years and above.
Paul Biya (Cameroon) – 44 years
President Paul Biya has been in power in Cameroon since 30 June 1975. He tops the list of the current longest-serving presidents both in Africa and in the world at large.
Paul Biya first served as Prime Minister in Cameroon for seven years (from 1975) before he finally assumed presidency in 1982.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Equatorial Guinea) – 40 years
Teodoro Obiang Nguema is the president of West African Country Equatorial Guinea and he has been in power since 3 August 1979. He is the second-longest current serving president in Africa and in the world after Cameroon’s Paul Biya.
President Nguema came to power after ousting his uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema through a military coup in 1979.
Denis Sassou Nguesso (Republic of the Congo) – 35 years
Denis Sassou Nguesso is the current president of the Republic of Congo and he has been in power since 1997 in what can be termed as the second phase of his presidency. He was previously president between 1979 to 1992 when he lost the election.
Following his defeat, Nguesso became an opposition leader for years and he finally came back to power through the second civil war of 1997-1999 in which he ousted president Pascal Lissouba.
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (Uganda) – 33 years
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is the current president of East African nation Uganda who has been in power since 26 January 1986. He came to power through a bush war that topped the government of his predecessor Tito Okello. He also participated in the rebellions that toppled notorious former leaders Idi Amin and Apollo Milton Obote.
Idriss Deby (Chad) – 28 years
General Idriss Itno is the current president of Central African nation Chad and he has been in power since 2 December 1990. He came into power through a rebellion that toppled the government of President Hissene Habre in 1990.
Since assuming office in 1990, president Deby has survived various rebellions that threatened to end his rule.
Isaias Afwerki (Eritrea) – 26 years
Isaias Afwerki is the current president of Eritrea in the horn of Africa. He became the country’s first president on 24 May 1993 after the Eritrean war of independence.
Afwerki was the leader of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) that spearheaded the 30-year-old war for independence until 1991.
Ismail Omar Guelleh (Djibouti) – 20 years
Ismail Omar Guelleh is the current president of Djibouti and one of the longest-serving in Africa. He has been in office since 8 May 1999.
Mr. Guelleh came into office as a successor to his uncle, Hassan Gouled Aptidon who had ruled the country since independence in 1977. Since coming into office, he has been re-elected 3 times.
Paul Kagame (Rwanda) – 19 years
Paul Kagame is the current and fourth president of Rwanda since independence in 1962. He assumed office on 22 April following the resignation of his predecessor Pasteur Bizimungu.
Kagame commanded the rebel force that ended the 1994 Rwanda genocide and he served as vice president and minister of defence from 1994 to 2000. He is now serving a third term of his presidency after being re-elected in 2017 in a landslide victory of nearly 99% for another seven years in office.
Hage Geingob (Namibia) – 19 years
Hage Gottfried Geingob is the current and third president of Namibia and he has been in office since 21 March 2015. He served as the first prime minister of Namibia from March 1990 to August 2002.
He served in the same position again from December 2012 to March 2015. He was elected president of Namibia in November 2014 by an overwhelming margin.
Faure Gnassingbe (Togo) – 14 years
Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe Eyadema is the current president of Togo since 4 May 2005. He was installed as president with the support of the army immediately after the death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema in 2005.
Gnassingbe initially resigned as president in February 2005 following regional pressure regarding the constitutional legitimacy of his succession. He then won a controversial presidential election in April 2005. He was re-elected for second term in 2010 and in 2015 he won third term defeating his main challenger, Jean-Pierre Fabre by 59% to 35% according to official results.
Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi) – 13 years
Pierre Nkurunziza has been president of Burundi since 26 August 2005. Before he became president, he was chairman of the National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), the ruling party.
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (Mali) – 11 years
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has been president of Mali since 2013. He served as the prime minister of Mali from 1994 to 2000 and president of the National Assembly of Mali from 2002 to 2007. He was elected president in July 2013.
Alassane Outtara (Ivory Coast) – 11 years
Alassane Dramane Outtara is the current president of Ivory Coast since 2010. He is an economist by profession who worked for International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Central Bank of West African States.
He also served as the prime minister of Ivory Coast between 1990 to 1993.
Macky Sall (Senegal) – 10 years
Macky Sall is the current and fourth president of Senegal. He has been in office since 2 April 2012. He was prime minister of Senegal under president Abdoulaye Wade from 2004 to 2007and president of the National Assembly from June 2007 to November 2008.
Azali Assoumani (Comoros) – 10 years
Azali Assoumani is the current president of Comoros. He has been in office since 2016. He first became president from 1999 to 2002 and again from 2002 to 2006.