Mo Ibrahim

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Mo Ibrahim

Ibrahim in 2007
Mohammed Fathi Ahmed Ibrahim

(1946-05-03) 3 May 1946 (age 77)
Alma materAlexandria University (BSc)
University of Bradford (MSc)
University of Birmingham (PhD)[2]
Occupation(s)Businessman, engineer
(m. 1973, divorced)
Children3, including Hadeel Ibrahim

Sir Mohammed Fathi Ahmed Ibrahim KCMG (Arabic: محمد إبراهيم; born 3 May 1946) is a Sudanese-British billionaire businessman. He worked for several telecommunications companies, before founding Celtel, which, when sold, had over 24 million mobile phone subscribers in 14 African countries. After selling Celtel in 2005 for $3.4 billion, he set up the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to encourage better governance in Africa, as well as creating the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, to evaluate nations' performance. He is also a member of the Africa regional advisory board of London Business School.

In 2007 he initiated the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, which awards $5 million to African heads of state who deliver security, health, education and economic development to their constituents and democratically transfer power to their successors. Ibrahim has pledged to give at least half of his wealth to charity by joining The Giving Pledge.

According to the Forbes 2011 Billionaire List,[3] Mo Ibrahim is worth $1.8 billion, making him the 692nd richest person in the world. Mo Ibrahim was also selected for the TIME "Top 100" list in 2008 and was ranked first in the annual Powerlist of influential Black Britons.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

He was born on 3 May 1946 in Sudan, of Nubian descent, the second of five children, four of whom were boys.[5][6] His family moved to Alexandria, Egypt when he was young, and father Fathi was employed there by a cotton company, and his mother Aida was very keen that they all get a good education.[5]

Ibrahim has a bachelor's degree from Alexandria University in electrical engineering. In 1974 he returned to Sudan and started working for the telephone company, Sudan Telecom.[7] He moved to England and earned a master's degree from the University of Bradford in Electronics and Electrical Engineering, and a PhD from the University of Birmingham in Mobile Communications.[8]


Before funding the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in 2006, Ibrahim was employed by British Telecom and later worked as the technical director for Cellnet (now O2), a subsidiary of British Telecom, where he launched the first cellurar network in the UK.[9] In 1989 he founded MSI, a consultancy and software company, which in 2000 was bought by the Marconi Company.[10][11]

In 1998, MSI spun off MSI-Cellular Investments, later renamed Celtel, as a mobile phone operator in Africa. Celtel was largely financed by equity rather than international banks, which were averse to investment in Africa at the time.[12]

In 2004, Ibrahim announced that he planned to take Celtel public through the London Stock Exchange.[13] Ibrahim and his team decided to sell Celtel in 2005 to Kuwait-based the Mobile Telecommunications Company (now Zain).[3] At the time of sale, Celtel had over 24 million mobile phone subscribers in 14 African countries. The company had 4,000 employees, of whom 98% were African.[12] Mobile telephones have brought wide reaching economic and social benefits in Africa and Ibrahim was credited with "transforming a continent".[14] In 2008 he was ranked first in the annual Powerlist of the most influential Black Britons.[15]

Ibrahim is the funding chairman of Satya Capital Limited, a private investment firm primarily focused on Africa.[16][17]

Since 2010, Ibrahim has lent his support to the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a UN initiative which aims to spread the full benefits of broadband services to unconnected peoples.[18]

Mo Ibrahim Foundation[edit]

In 2006 Ibrahim founded the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which is headquartered in London and Dakar, to strengthen sound governance and leadership in Africa.[8] In 2007, the Foundation inaugurated the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, to recognise outstanding political leadership on the continent, with the first recipient former president Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique.[19]

Nelson Mandela was named an Honorary Laureate in 2007. The Prize has been awarded a further five times, most recently in 2021 to former president of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou.[20]

Every year, the Foundation publishes the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which ranks the governance performance of all 54 African countries.[21] The Foundation defines governance as "the provision of political, social and economic public goods and services that every citizen has the right to expect from their government, and that a government has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens."[22]

The Foundation hots an annual event, the Ibrahim Governance Weekend (IGW), which brings together prominent players from across Africa and globally, to discuss issues of importance to Africa's progress.[23][24]

The Foundation offers scholarships at University of Birmingham, SOAS, and London Business School. These scholarships are on topics of International Development at University of Birmingham, Governance of Development in Africa at SOAS, and an MBA at London Business School. The scholarships are initiated for African students, both master students and postgraduates.[25]

Other activities[edit]

Ibrahim contributes to the leadership and activities of numerous other organisations, including the B Team, Council on Foreign Relations, Commission on State Fragility, Global Alliance Foundation, ONE, Open Government Partnership, School of Transnational Governance at the European University Institute, the World Bank ID4D and the World Justice Project.[26][27]

Ibrahim is the co-founder and co-chair of the Africa-Europe Foundation, which was established in 2020 to strengthen Africa-Europe relations.[28]

Awards and honours[edit]

Ibrahim has received multiple awards in recognition of his business and philanthropic activities, including: the GSM Association Chairman’s Award for Lifetime Achievement (2007), The Economist Innovation Award for Social and Economic Innovation (2007), the BNP Paribas Prize for Philanthropy (2008),[29] the Clinton Global Citizen Award (2010), the Eisenhower Medal for Distinguished Leadership and Service (2014), the Foreign Policy Association Medal (2014) and the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award (2012, 2017).[30]

He was made Commander of the Order of the Lion by President Macky Sall of Senegal (2014) and Commander of the Wissam Arch by King Mohammed VI of Morocco (2014).[31]

Ibrahim has been featured in the Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World (2008),[32] The New African Most Influential Africans (2014),[33] Bloomberg Markets 50 Most Influential (2015),[34] the Jeune Afrique 100 Most Influential Africans (2019),[35] He is a member of the Hall of Fame for the ‘Powerlist’ of influential black Britons.[36]

Ibrahim has received honorary degrees, doctorates and fellowships from a range of academic institutions including the University of Birmingham, Bradford University, Cornell University, De Montfort University, Imperial College London, London Business School, the University of Oxford, Royal Academy of Engineering, SOAS University of London, University of Pennsylvania, and Lancaster University.[37][38]

Ibrahim was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the 2023 New Year Honours for services to charity and philanthropy.[39][40]

Personal life[edit]

In 1973, Ibrahim married Hania Morsi Fadl, an Alexandria University graduate from the year above him, whom he had known since childhood.[5] They are now divorced. Fadl is a Sudanese-born British radiologist, running the only breast cancer clinic in Sudan.[41]

They have two children, Hosh Ibrahim and Hadeel Ibrahim, both of whom serve on board of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Hadeel Ibrahim is also a board member of the Clinton Foundation.[42]

Ibrahim is married to Jane Ibrahim.[43] They have a son, Sami Ibrahim.

Ibrahim resides between London and Monaco.[1][44]


  1. ^ a b "Forbes profile: Mohammed Ibrahim". Forbes. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Dr. Mo Ibrahim". World Justice Project. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Mohammed Ibrahim". Forbes. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  4. ^ "The 100 powerful black Britons who are changing the world". the Guardian. 4 October 2008. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Auletta, Ken (28 February 2011). "The Dictator Index". The New Yorker. Retrieved 13 November 2017 – via
  6. ^ Geraldine Bedell, "The man giving Africa a brighter future", The Observer, 1 February 2009, accessed 7 October 2012
  7. ^ Southwood, Russell (2009). Less Walk, More Talk: How Celtel and the Mobile Phone Changed Africa. Wiley. pp. 18–25.
  8. ^ a b "The Mo Ibrahim Foundation Board". Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Archived from the original on 8 November 2007. Retrieved 29 September 2007.
  9. ^ "Mo Ibrahim: African entrepreneur and founder of the Ibrahim Index". Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  10. ^ Mullins, John; Komisar, Randy (2009). Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model. Harvard Business Press. p. 193.
  11. ^ "Interview with Mo Ibrahim, founder and former Chairman of Celtel". Jeune Afrique, via Groupe Jeune Afrique. Archived from the original on 21 October 2007. Retrieved 29 September 2007.
  12. ^ a b Ibrahim, Mo (1 October 2012). "Celtel's Founder on Building a Business on the World's Poorest Continent". Harvard Business Review. ISSN 0017-8012. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  13. ^ Ibrahim, Mo (2012). "Celtel's Founder on Building a Business on the World's Poorest Continent". Harvard Business Review. 90: 41–44.
  14. ^ "Mo Ibrahim". Philanthropists in Africa. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  15. ^ Smith, David (4 October 2008). "The 100 powerful black Britons who are changing the world". The Observer. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  16. ^ "US equity firm TPG ties up with Satya Capital for Africa investments". Reuters. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  17. ^ "Dr Mo Ibrahim | Satya Capital". Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  18. ^ [1] Archived 14 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Mozambique ex-leader wins prize". BBC News. 22 October 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
  20. ^ "Niger's outgoing president wins $5m African leadership prize". Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  21. ^ Thomas, Abdul Rashid (6 April 2022). "Mo Ibrahim Foundation announces new updates to the Ibrahim Index of African Governance data portal". The Sierra Leone Telegraph. Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  22. ^ "African governance makes progress – DW – 11/16/2020". Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  23. ^ "The road to COP27: Making Africa's case in the global climate debate - World | ReliefWeb". 12 July 2022. Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  24. ^ "Governance Weekend". Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  25. ^ "Ibrahim Scholarships". Mo Ibrahim Foundation. 4 December 2016.
  26. ^ "Mo Ibrahim". World Justice Project. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  27. ^ "The B Team | Leaders". The B Team. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  28. ^ "Intervention by President Charles Michel at the 'Climate and energy in the Africa-Europe partnership' debate". Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  29. ^ "Youth Innovation and Leadership in Africa with Dr Mo Ibrahim". Black History Month 2023. 14 February 2008. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  30. ^ "Mo Ibrahim - Founder and Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation". Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  31. ^ "Mo Ibrahim". Mercy Corps. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  32. ^ Easterly, William (12 May 2008). "The 2008 TIME 100 - TIME". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  33. ^ african, New (22 December 2014). "2014 Most Influential Africans - Civil Society & Activism - Page 3 of 4". New African Magazine. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  34. ^ Eremionkhale, Omono (15 October 2015). "Meet the Africans on Bloomberg Markets 50 Most Influential list 2015". Ventures Africa. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  35. ^ "Top 100 des africains les plus influents - Jeune Afrique". (in French). Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  36. ^ Smith, David (4 October 2008). "The 100 powerful black Britons who are changing the world". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  37. ^ "Honorary degree recipients for 2022 announced | University of Oxford". 16 May 2022. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  38. ^ University, Lancaster. "Four distinguished people awarded honorary degrees | Lancaster University". Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  39. ^ "No. 63918". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2022. p. N3.
  40. ^ "New Year Honours 2023 Overseas and International List: Order of St Michael and St George". GOV.UK. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  41. ^ "Meet the woman who runs the only breast cancer clinic in Sudan". 4 February 2016. Archived from the original on 15 May 2022. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  42. ^ "Hadeel Ibrahim | SA+P". Retrieved 19 May 2023.
  43. ^ "Bill Gates, Bono, Dangote…who's in Mo Ibrahim's network?". The Africa Retrieved 19 May 2023.
  44. ^ "Mo Ibrahim : " Trop de chefs d'État africains se croient irremplaçables " – Jeune Afrique". (in French). 21 July 2019. Retrieved 19 May 2023.

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