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Dr. Mo Ibrahim: Profiling One Of Britain’s Most Powerful African Men

Dr Mohamed Mo Ibrahim is Sudanese-born British entrepreneur, who is popularly known as the telecommunication giant of the African continent.

Academically trained as an electrical engineer, Ibrahim stepped into the world of mobile communications immediately after completing his graduation. Having learned the nuances of the field, he went on to establish his own company Mobile Systems International that designed mobile networks. His magnum opus came when he founded Celtel International.

The company became one of the largest mobile communication services providers in the African continent, catering to more than a dozen countries and millions of users.

Celtel changed the way people lived, making mobile communications a vital part of existence. Following the deal in which he sold Celtel to Kuwait’s Mobile Telecommunication Company he diverted his energy to philanthropic works, initializing Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

The foundation aims at recognizing and rewarding excellence in Africa Leadership through its Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership

Childhood & Early Life
  • Mo Ibrahim was born in 1946 in Sudan. His father was a clerk by profession. The family moved to Egypt when Ibrahim was young.

  • Completing his preliminary studies, he enrolled at the Alexandria University for a degree in electrical engineering. After earning a Bachelor degree in science, he returned to Sudan where he started working as an engineer in the state-run Sudan Telecom.

  • In 1974, he moved to England and gained admission at the University of Bradford. After earning his master’s degree in electronics and electrical engineering, he went on to attain PhD degree in mobile communications from University of Birmingham. His pioneering academic work included reuse of radio frequencies. Simultaneously, he taught at the University of Birmingham.
  • Dr. Mohamed (Mo) Ibrahim is a global expert in mobile communications with a distinguished academic and business career.


  • As Technical Director with BT’s Cellnet, he launched the first cellular service in UK in 1985.
  • In 1989, Dr. Mo Ibrahim founded Mobile Systems International (MSI), a technology consultancy and software business. The company was sold in 2000 for $900million.


  • Dr. Mo Ibrahim founded Celtel in 1998 to build and operate mobile networks in Africa. Celtel became one of Africa’s most successful companies with operations in 16 countries. The company was sold to MTC Kuwait in 2005 for $3.4billion.


  • Dr. Mo Ibrahim holds a BSc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alexandria, Egypt, a MSc in Electronics and Electrical Engineering from the University of Bradford and a PhD in Mobile Communications from the University of Birmingham.


  • Dr. Mo Ibrahim was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and an Honorary Fellowship Award from the London Business School. He also received the Chairman’s Award for Lifetime Achievement from the GSM Association in 2007 and the Economists Innovation Award 2007 for Social & Economic Innovation.


  • Established in 2004, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation is an African initiative to recognize achievement in African leadership and stimulate debate on good governance across sub-Saharan Africa and the world. The Foundation publishes the Ibrahim Index of African Governance in collaboration with the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. The Foundation also established the annual African Leadership Award, as the largest prize in the world.


  • Dr. Mo Ibrahim is also the Founding Chairman of Satya Capital Ltd, an investment company focused on opportunities in Africa.
Major Works
  • Ibrahim founded Celtel International, which aimed at providing mobile communication services in the African continent. Soon after its launch, it became one of the largest companies in Africa offering coverage in more than a dozen countries and serving millions of people. It created a mobile revolution of sorts, increasing the number of users from a meagre 7.5 million to a mammoth 76.5 million.

  • Ibrahim philanthropic works led him to found the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which is aimed at celebrating excellence in Africa leadership. Annually, it distributes the prestigious and the world’s largest monetary prize, Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership to a recipient who fulfils the criteria set by the foundation.

Awards & Achievements
  • Ibrahim has been bestowed with honorary Doctorate degree in Economics by the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

  • In 2011, he received the Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

  • He has been the proud recipient of a number of awards including GSM Association’s Chairman’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2007, the BNP Paribas Prize for Philanthropy in 2008 and the Clinton Global Citizen award in 2010

  • In 2012, he was conferred with two awards: the Millennium Excellence Award for Actions in Africa and the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award. In 2011, he received the Africare Leadership Award and Kiel Institute Global Economy Prize.

  • In May 2014, he was presented with the Eisenhower Medal for Distinguished Leadership and Service. Following month, he was bestowed with the Foreign Policy Association Medal.

Personal Life & Legacy
  • Ibrahim tied the nuptial knot with Hania. Together, the couple is blessed with two children, a daughter Hadeel Ibrahim who serves as the executive director of Mo Ibrahim Foundation and a son Hosh Ibrahim, an actor by profession.

Net Worth
  • Mo Ibrahim has a net worth of about $1.1 billion.

  • He is considered to be the most powerful black man in Britain and is credited with transforming a continent.

Written by PH

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