Following a record number of votes, the Liverpool star won ahead of Gabon's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Guinean Naby Keita, Sadio Mane of Senegal and Nigeria's Victor Moses.
"I am very happy to win this award," the 25-year-old told BBC Sport
"It's always a special feeling when you win something. I feel like I had a great year, so I'm very happy."
Salah, the Premier League's top scorer with 13 goals, has enjoyed a stellar year for both club and country.
In early 2017, the forward was the central figure for Egypt as they finished runners-up at the Africa Cup of Nations.
He also had a hand in all seven of the goals that took the Pharaohs to their first World Cup since 1990 - assisting two and scoring five, including the stoppage-time penalty against Congo that qualified them for Russia.
Salah has taken the Premier League by storm this season, in contrast to a less impressive spell in the division with Chelsea between 2014-15.
By winning the BBC African Footballer of the year prize Salah adds his name to a list of legends including Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) and Michael Essien.