Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Africa needs more Mo Ibrahims.

I was with Mo Ibrahim yesterday, in the plush offices of his foundation. What a great man. Self-effacing, generous and very committed to advancing better leadership in Africa. I first met him in 2004, before he had sold Celtel. He was a businessman then, with an interest to make money and to help tell the world, particularly institutional investors, about the business opportunities that Africa was yielding for his company and an industry which he had been working in all of his adult life – telecoms. With the attainment of huge wealth after the sale of Celtel to Zain, Mo has lost none of his gentle charm and none of his big ambition either. ‘If you are going to do this’, he said to me, then ‘do it big’, in reference to an assignment that africapractice is supporting the African Union with.

Mo has an armoury of facts and anecdotes at his fingertips, built up over many years doing business across Africa and courtesy too of the research that his foundation carries out and the circle of friends that Mo now keeps. Combine this with his passion, his conviction and the respect that we accord any successful businessman (not bankers!) who take a risk and make a fortune (building a GSM business in Africa in the early 1990s was perceived as a big risk believe it or not; only Development Finance Institutions could be persuaded to share the risk), then you have a serious, straight-talking and effective spokesman for Africa. Africa needs more Mo Ibrahims.

Marcus Courage

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