Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Africa Connected

Dr Mohamed 'Mo' Ibrahim

th February 2007 - Barcelona: The GSM Association Chairman's Award was presented last night to a remarkably successful mobile entrepreneur, a pioneer of technical achievement and a driving force in the industry's efforts to connect the unconnected of Africa.

This highest annual award - in recognition of outstanding achievement in supporting the growth and vitality of the global mobile community, and the highlight of the Global Mobile Awards - was presented by GSMA Chairman Craig Ehrlich to Dr Mohamed 'Mo' Ibrahim, the founder and chairman of Celtel International, which operates networks in 15 African countries.

Technical innovator

Dr Ibrahim is a technical innovator who joined the industry 22 years ago at the launch of the world's first mobile network. More than 18 years ago he founded Mobile Systems International (MSI), a company that developed the software to help operators manage and plan their use of radio spectrum at a time when networks were planned using tracing paper and a map.

He subsequently founded a mobile operator that invested in the underserved African telecommunications market, which in 1998 consisted of a mere 2 million mobile users on the entire continent. That company eventually became Celtel and it paved the way for much of the growth of mobile communications throughout Africa.

Celtel International

With more than 60% growth per year, Celtel today has more than 17 million users, and is licensed to serve more than one half of the continent's population. In 2005, Celtel was sold to MTC - a middle east based mobile group serving 20 countries – for more than $3.4 billion, although Dr Ibrahim remains Chairman of the Celtel board.

In October 2006, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation was launched, with backing from world leaders including Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. The Foundation is a radical new initiative to promote and recognise good governance and leadership in Africa, and will award the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership - worth $5 million with a further $200,000 a year available for good causes suggested by the winner.

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