Mr Mo Ibrahim
October 20th, 2005

This New Statesman article profiles Mo Ibrahim who is the chairman of the fastest-growing mobile phone group in sub-Saharan African,Celtel.”Today Celtel has more than seven million customers, employs 3,500 staff and boasts 120,000 points of sale. While dwarfed by Vodacom and MTN, it is the only mobile network to see the poorest of the poor as its raison d’etre.Such figures leave vast room for expansion and may explain why in May the Kuwaiti mobile operator MTC bought Celtel for $3.4bn,yet left the company free to continue operating as a separate entity.Ibrahim, a pipe-smoking, compact ball of energy, aims to raise market penetration in Celtel’s target areas to 20 per cent by 2015.He enthuses over the opportunities represented by challenging countries such as poverty-stricken Ethiopia and war-scarred Angola.”Up till now everyone has focused on the cities, bypassing villages and hamlets. We want to focus on cut-off rural areas, which is why we are looking at solar energy.”The article says that “interestingly, he is sceptical about the other great change that has swept Africa in recent years: the internet. “Computers are very expensive and they need power, and that can be a problem in Africa. SMS text messaging is replacing e-mail and, more and more, phones are carrying out the functions of the computer.”

Mo Ibrahim


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