Regarded by some as the ‘most powerful black man in Britain’, Dr Mohamed “Mo” Ibrahim is a mobile communications entrepreneur and billionaire. He founded Celtel, which had more than 24 million mobile phone subscribers across 14 African countries when it sold for US$3.4 billion in 2005.
Ibrahim started his career as an employee of British Telecom and went on to become the technical director for Cellnet, one of their subsidiaries.
He taught undergraduate telecommunication courses at Thames Polytechnic (now the University of Greenwich) during the 1980s until he founded consultancy and software firm MSI in 1989.
In 1998, MSI spawned MSI-Cellular Investments, which was later renamed Celtel and positioned him as one of Britain’s foremost philanthropists.
He has played a supportive role for the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a UN initiative aiming to make the benefits of broadband available to all, since 2010. He is also a member of the Africa Regional Advisory Board of London Business School.
Philanthropy and Sponsorship
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was established in 2006. It is a non-grant making organisation, focused on the definition, assessment and enhancement of African governance and leadership.
The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership awards a US$5 million initial payment, and a $200,000 annual payment for life to ‘African heads of state who deliver security, health, education and economic development to their constituents and democratically transfer power to their successors.’ It is awarded by an independent committee, which includes two Nobel laureates, to a former leader recognised to have developed their countries and citizens in an equitable and sustainable fashion. It showcases African role-models and ensures that the benefit of exceptional leadership is not lost at the end of their tenure by making it possible for them to continue working in public roles.
The Ibrahim Index of African Governance has provided an annual assessment of the quality of governance in African countries since 2007. It is become an effective means to measure and assess government performance. It evaluates progress in the safety and Rule of Law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity and human development for citizens based on various elements including those such as infrastructure, freedom of expression, sanitation and property rights.
The 2009 Index included all 53 African countries for the first time. Countries are ranked according to their performance.
The Ibrahim Forum is an annual convention of prominent African leaders from the government and private sectors to identify policy challenges and prioritise action accordingly.
The Ibrahim Leadership Fellowships and were designed to provide mentorship opportunities for future African leaders from the current leaders of key institutions.
The Ibrahim Scholarships were established to support and develop African talent in selected disciplines.
Mo Ibrahim is well-respected and has been credited with ‘transforming a continent’. Regarded amongst the world’s wealthiest, he has pledged to donate half his fortune to charity ‘the giving pledge’, a moral commitment so far undertaken by some 81 millionaires in the interests of philanthropy.