Business Unusual in Africa - The Power of One!


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One Company Dared to Break the Stereotype of What it Takes To Do Business in Africa.

"We launched CELTEL... decided that we would not pay any bribes... Surprise-surprise, we prospered!"


Born in 1946, Mo Ibrahim is a proud Nubian. The Sudanese-British trans-national’s telecoms career had taken him to British Telecomms (BT) and Cellnet (a BT subsidiary) before establishing a consultancy and software company in 1989, which he sold in 2000. Ibrahim's consulting firm had about 800 employees, whom he gave 30% of the company stock as bonus. Noting that Africa was left out of the telecoms rush of the late 1990s, MSI subsidiary MSI-Cellular Investments became CELTEL in 1998.

Although the motivation for Ibrahim and his co-founders in setting up CELTEL was not solely commercial, this did not stop the Company from becoming successful. CELTEL decided to embark on business in Africa in an unconventional style. Regarding it as a political and intellectual litmus test for the African ontinent, Ibrahim dared to set up a continent-wide mobile telephone operation with a corporate culture that refused to pay bribes!

In about ten years, Mo Ibrahim had made his point and opened up Africa for those who dared to be different: The network has chalked up about 20million subscribers in 15 countries. Ibrahim sold CELTEL for $3.4 billion in 2005.

On TIME Magazine’s 100 list in 2008 & 2009, Forbes 2008 lists Mo Ibrahim's net-worth in the region of $2.5 billion.


Created Wednesday, 02 December 2009 12:53

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 November 2011 11:43
Written by Cowrie