He beat Mrs Sirleaf, the Liberian president who was awarded this year's Nobel Peace prize, Mr Dangote, a Nigeria business tycoon who tops Forbes' list of Africa's richest people, former Cape Verde President Pedro
Verona Pires, who won this year's $5m (£3.2m) Mo Ibrahim prize for good governance in Africa and Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan Nobel Peace laureate who died in September.
Last year, another financial publication, The Banker, named Mr Sanusi the Central Bank Governor of the Year. Mr Sanusi's critics says his reforms have led to massive job losses in the banking sector.
But when receiving the award, he said the central bank's role was not to create jobs but to create an environment for business to thrive, Nigeria's privately owned newspaper, The Daily Trust, reports.
He called on the government to show tighter fiscal discipline and to discourage imports. "You cannot be exporting crude oil and be importing refined petrol," Mr Sanusi said, according to The Daily Trust. Nigeria is a leading oil producer but most people live in poverty.
Source: BBC News