With so much development in the African telecommunication industry, we would like to take the opportunity to recognize indigenous African visionaries and businessmen and women who have helped to make this happen. From time to time, we will identify a few of the African men and women who are instrumental to making telecommunications in Africa what it is today. This week, we share brief profiles of four of the greatest indigenous African businessman who helped shape up the new telecommunication climate – Andile Abner Ngcaba, Strive Masiyiwa, Dr. Michael Adeniyi Isola Adenuga, and Isabel José dos Santos.
We call on all our readers to propose any other profiles that we should feature in future. All those who make the list will be included in our “Who is Who in Africa ICT” database that we are in the process of developing.
Andile Abner Ngcaba
Andile is a South African businessman who has devoted most of his life and career to the field of technology, in particular communications. Born on 1956, in East London (Eastern Cape Province), Andile currently lives in Johannesburg.
He is Chairman, founder and majority shareholder of the investment group Convergence Partners and is also the Executive Chairman of Dimension Data Middle East and Africa, a subsidiary of the Dimension Data plc Group, which was recently acquired by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT). Through Convergence Partners, Andile is also involved in significant new communications infrastructure projects across Africa including Seacom (the first undersea fibre optic cable system serving Africa's East Coast) which was ready for service on 23 July 2009, the first private sector satellite in Africa (Intelsat New Dawn) which was launched on 22 April 2011 and a joint venture of Convergence Partners, Cell C and Internet Solutions whose mission is to bring high capacity, long-haul terrestrial fibre to South Africa (FibreCo). FibreCo is currently deploying a 12 000km fibre optic network connecting major cities of South Africa.
Andile was previously a freedom fighter in the ANC military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe that fought against Apartheid, and thereafter the Director General of Communications in the first democratically elected government of South Africa in 1994. He left Government in 2003 to pursue a career in the private sector.
Born in 1961, Strive is a Zimbabwean born businessman, cell phone pioneer and founder of Econet Wireless which has a foot print in several African countries. He first came to international prominence when he fought a landmark constitutional legal battle to allow him to operate a mobile network in Zimbabwe. The ruling, which led to the removal of the monopoly of the state in telecommunications, is generally regarded as one of the key milestones in opening the African telecommunications sector to private capital.
Through Econet Wireless, Strive also owns Mascom, a mobile operator in Botswana and Liquid Telecommunication, a satellite and fibre optic infrastructure company. Liquid telecom is deploying a cross border fibre optic terrestrial network running from South Africa to the Democratic Republic of Congo through Zimbabwe and Zambia. Liquid Telecom recently acquired Kenya Data Networks, a fibre infrastructure company with a terrestrial fibre network connecting Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. This makes the Liquid telecom terrestrial fibre network the largest in the continent.
Aside from Econet, Strive Masiyiwa is a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation and a board member of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa which is funded by both the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and chaired by Kofi Annan.
With Sir Richard Branson, Masiyiwa is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, a global, independent non-profit established to help entrepreneurs unlock market-driven solutions to climate change.
Dr. Michael Adeniyi Isola Adenuga
Born in 1953, Mike is the principal owner and chief executive officer of Globacom Limited (GLO), a privately owned multinational telecommunications company headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria. Globacom is Nigeria’s second largest national telecom operator, with an estimated 25 million plus subscribers and its fastest growing mobile service provider. Globacom has a footprint in several countries in West Africa. Globacom owns and operates a submarine fibre optic cable that connects West African countries to Europe. Globacom Limited is privately owned by the Mike Adenuga Group which also consists of Equatorial Trust Bank (ETB), Conoil PLC, a petroleum marketing company, Equitorial Trust Bank, in addition to stakes and interests in construction and real estate firms.
Dr. Adenuga was honoured by the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the National Awards of the Officer of the Order of the Niger and later with the award of Commander of the Order of the Niger.
Isabel José dos Santos
Born in 1973, Isabel is one of the principal owners of Unitel, the largest mobile operator in Angola. Unitel Angola is one of the most profitable and forward looking mobile operators companies in Africa, already deploying a 4G/LTE mobile network in Angola and the only African operator already deploying a 100Gbps per channel Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) network in Angola.
Isabel developed her interests in telecommunications, media, retail, finance and the energy industry since 2008, both in Angola and in Portugal. Jadeium, a company held by Isabel dos Santos, acquired 4,918% of ZON Multimedia shares from Spain’s Telefonica.
Through Unitel International Holdings BV, based in the Netherlands, a company controlled by Isabel dos Santos, since July 2012, the Angolan businesswoman is the main shareholder of ZON Multimédia with 29 % shareholding. She has other major stakes with the Angolan state oil company Sonangol through their mutual European Law holding, based in the Netherlands, named Esperanza Holding, in Portuguese Galp Energia. Since November 27th 2012 Isabel dos Santos is a non-executive board member of ZON.