Mo Ibrahim

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Mohammed Ibrahim
Mo Ibrahim.jpg
Ibrahim at the 2007 World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town
Born (1946-05-03) 3 May 1946 (age 75)
Alma materAlexandria University (BSc)
University of Bradford (MSc)
University of Birmingham (PhD)[2]
OccupationBusinessman, engineer
Spouse(s)Hania Morsi Fadl (divorced)
Children3, including Hadeel Ibrahim

Mohammed "Mo" Ibrahim (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[]

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. 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]

In 2007 Ibrahim was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies,[9] and in 2011 an honorary doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.[10]


Ibrahim is credited with "transforming a continent" and is said to be the "most powerful black man in Britain", in 2008 he was ranked first in the annual Powerlist of the most influential Black Britons.[11]

Ibrahim was employed by British Telecom for a time, and later worked as the technical director for Cellnet, a subsidiary of British Telecom. In 1989 he founded , a consultancy and software company, which in 2000 was bought by the Marconi Company. Originally the company was helping the cellular industry designing their networks, before they shifted their focus to mobile phones in the late 1990s.[12] MSI had 800 employees, who owned approximately 30% of the stock at the point of its sale; Ibrahim says he gave employees stock as a form of bonus.[13]

In 1998, MSI spun off MSI-Cellular Investments, later renamed Celtel, as a mobile phone operator in Africa.

After some years, when Celtel needed long term source of capital, they considered doing an IPO on a reputable stock exchange, for instance the London Stock Exchange. When it became public that they considered a public offering, they received a lot of alternative offers. Many wanted to buy the company, and Ibrahim and his team decided to sell Celtel in 2004 to Kuwait-based Mobile Telecommunication Company (now Zain).[14]

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.[15]

Mo Ibrahim Foundation[]

In 2006 Ibrahim created the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, founded in London.[8] In 2007, the Foundation inaugurated the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, with the first recipient former president Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique.[16]

The Foundation publishes the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, ranking the performance of all 54 African countries. Until 2009, the Index took into account only the 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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.[17]

Personal life[]

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, and Fadl is a Sudanese-born British radiologist, running the only breast cancer clinic in Sudan.[18]

They have a daughter, Hadeel Ibrahim, who is executive director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, vice chair of the Africa Centre in New York, and a board member of the Clinton Foundation; and two sons Hosh and Sami Ibrahim.

Ibrahim resides in the United Kingdom.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Forbes profile: Mohammed Ibrahim". Forbes. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Dr. Mo Ibrahim". World Justice Project. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  3. ^ "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". 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. ^ "SOAS Honorary Fellows". SOAS. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Penn News | Award-Winning Actor Denzel Washington Delivers Penn's 255th Commencement Address". 16 May 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  11. ^ Smith, David (4 October 2008). "The 100 powerful black Britons who are changing the world". The Observer. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  12. ^ Mullins, John; Komisar, Randy (2009). Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model. Harvard Business Press. p. 193.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ Ibrahim, Mo (2012). "Celtel's Founder on Building a Business on the World's Poorest Continent". Harvard Business Review. 90: 41–44.
  15. ^ [1] Archived 14 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Mozambique ex-leader wins prize". BBC News. 22 October 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
  17. ^ "Ibrahim Scholarships". Mo Ibrahim Foundation. 4 December 2016.
  18. ^ "Meet the woman who runs the only breast cancer clinic in Sudan". 4 February 2016. Retrieved 13 November 2017.

External links[]

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