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Bill Gates, Bono, Dangote…who’s in Mo Ibrahim’s network?

By Olivier Holmey
Posted on Thursday, 3 December 2020 19:10, updated on Tuesday, 8 December 2020 10:20

Future Africa Forum at The Africa Center
Hadeel Ibrahim, Aliko Dangote, Mo Ibrahim, Bill Gates, and Halima Dangote, at The Africa Center on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019 in New York. (Loren Matthew /AP Images for The Africa Center)

The Sudanese-British billionaire can count on the loyal support of his wife and children, as well as an extensive network of contacts including celebrities, politicians and fellow high earners.

The 74-year-old Sudanese-British billionaire chairs the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, an organisation working to promote good governance and leadership in Africa, and Satya Capital, an investment firm with more than $7bn in assets under management.

READ MORE Mo Ibrahim report finds African governments flying blind amid inadequate data collection

His wealth stems from the 2005 sale of Celtel, his pan-African telecommunications group. His continuing investments across the continent, and his foundation, have helped him forge an extensive network of contacts. Read on for a selection.

Family members

• Hadeel Ibrahim

In 2006, Mo Ibrahim appointed his daughter, who was just 22 years old at the time, as executive director of his foundation. He values her perspectives from her own networks in the US and UK. She currently serves on the foundation’s board of directors alongside her brother, Hosh.

• Jane Ibrahim

Known by her stage name, Jane Stanton, this British actress assists her husband, who is 28 years her senior, behind the scenes by accompanying him when he travels abroad. The mother of his third child, she sang her husband’s praises in an interview with CNBC last year.

Loyal associates

• Nathalie Delapalme

A former top adviser on Africa for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs under then-President Jacques Chirac, she has made the “Ibrahim Index of African Governance” one of the foundation’s flagship research products. She also serves as the organisation’s executive director.

• Tsega Gebreyes

A Harvard Business School graduate, this young Ethiopian national is CEO of Satya Capital. She has been working with Mr Ibrahim since the days of Celtel, where she held the position of chief of strategy and business development officer.

Advisers

• Zainab Umar

This 38-year-old Nigerian-British professional works as the foundation’s communications manager and spokesperson. An avid reader, Ms Umar also serves on Book Aid International’s Board of Trustees.

• Lord Cairns

Formerly deputy chairman and CEO of the investment bank SG Warburg, this 81-year-old British citizen has a broad network of London contacts and previously chaired the Commonwealth Business Council. Today, he serves on Satya Capital’s Investment Committee.

High earners

Aliko Dangote

The Nigerian business magnate is practically family to “Mo”. Mr Dangote’s daughter, Halima, is best friends with Hadeel.

READ MORE ‘Nigeria’s economy at independence showed great promise’ – Dangote

Halima serves as president of The Africa Center in New York City alongside another well-known daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

• Bill Gates

Mr Gates is the person who convinced Mo to give at least half of his fortune to charitable causes.

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The two billionaires, who share a mutual admiration for one another, enjoy having discussions, both in public and in private.

Political connections

• Paul Kagame

Mr Ibrahim is critical of heads of state who outstay their welcome in office.

Paul Kagame, who has been Rwanda’s president for 20 years, is the lone exception to this rule. Mo describes him as a friend and model leader.

• Abiy Ahmed

Thanks to the foundation’s Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, Mr Ibrahim has access to many powerful entities, including Menelik Palace, the seat of power of the Ethiopian prime minister. Mr Ahmed was the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Celebrities

Bono

The Irish rock musician assists Mo with his philanthropic and business activities. Bono introduced him to the management team of the US investment firm TPG, which set in motion a joint $1bn investment partnership between Satya Capital and TPG in Africa in 2015.

• Angélique Kidjo

The Beninese diva occasionally gives concerts during events organised by the foundation. Along with the Senegalese singer-songwriter Youssou N’Dour, she is one of the foundation’s most trusted advocates in French-speaking Africa.

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