Mo Ibrahim

(Mohammed "Mo" Ibrahim)

Mo Ibrahim
Mo Ibrahim
  • Born: May 3, 1946
  • Nationality: Sudanese
  • Profession: Businessman, Engineer









Mohammed "Mo" Ibrahim 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 Mo Ibrahim Index, to evaluate nations' performance. He is also a member of the Africa regional advisory board of London Business School.

Quotes About
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At the end, governance is reflected in what is delivered to people. If you have a good trade agreement, for example, hopefully that will reduce prices and help exports…. I have no opinion about who is better or worse. I am not a politician. I am not in politics. I'm just a citizen. It is interesting for me to know who is doing better than the others. …We all have our perceptions. I go to visit a country, I end up in a five-star hotel in a nice city and I'm driven there and taken back and I say, ‘Wow, this is a wonderful country, it's safe.’ But I've been looked after. Is the country really safe? How do we get the facts away from perception? Defense & National Security ;Social Sciences
For every bribe-taker, there must be a bribe-giver, and these givers are all too often from the rich countries. These firms are enabling corruption, crippling or even killing off vulnerable states. Corruption
Immigrants everywhere have been a wonderful bonus for the host countries. Sometimes it amazes me how anti-immigration feelings arise in Europe or the United States, when immigration has been wonderful for business. Immigration & Emigration
It was a stifling society with government controlling all aspects of life. You could not get funding for any sort of project. There was no infrastructure to support you. And there were a lot of social pressures to just take a government job and have some babies, and that’s it. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
Rule of law is the most important element in any civil society. To build a successful country, we need to have rule of law. And rule of law is not just about writing a beautiful constitution or set of laws. It is also about the independence of the judiciary. It’s about institutions. It’s about respect for rights, human rights, social, economic rights, etc. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Some leaders, of course, have also committed crimes, and they have blood on their hands. Or they have secret accounts with stolen money. And so if they leave, people will come after them. So they just don’t leave. Like in Sudan: if you leave, you end up at the International Criminal Court. Staying in power is a form of insurance policy against the long arm of the law. Leaders & Leadership
We have a problem in Africa with our education system. It is a relic from the past. The education system was meant to create clerks to help the administrative role of the colonial power. So the emphasis was on neat handwriting and how to write good reports and things like that, and if you move further, then you study Shakespeare and Molière. But we don’t have enough engineers and scientists. Two percent of African university graduates study agriculture, when 70 percent of our people are living off the land. Obviously, we have a problem. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
A narrative that branded Africa as little more than an economic, political and social basket case was not likely to provide the investment needed to drive development.
Africa has 53 countries. And you find that three or four countries in these 53 are dominating the news.
Africa is progressing but maybe not in the way you think it is. Even if the overall picture looks good, we must all remain vigilant and not get complacent.
Africa is rich, and why are we poor then if our continent is rich. It is not right.
Africa is underpopulated. We have 20% of the world's landmass and 13% of its population.
Africa offers the highest return on investment in the world.
Africa should not again face isolation or stigmatisation based on ignorance and unrepresentative imagery.
Africa was perceived - it still is to some extent - as a place which is very difficult to do business in. I don't share that view. Business, Commerce & Finance
African leaders work really under severe limitations and constraints. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Africa's success stories are delivering the whole range of the public goods and services that citizens have a right to expect and are forging a path that we hope more will follow. Hope ;Success
After the sale of Celtel, I really wanted to give the money back, and I had a number of choices - to go and buy masses of blankets and baby milk or to go into Darfur or Congo. That would have been very nice actually, but it's just like an aspirin: it doesn't deal with the problem. Money, Coins & Minting
All we hear about Africa in the West is Darfur, Zimbabwe, Congo, Somalia, as if that is all there is.
Almost every country in Africa has now instituted multi-party democracy.
Before any investor goes into any country, he is looking for the exit door.
Behind every corrupt politician are 10-20 corrupt businessmen.
Billions of dollars are thrown at African countries.
Botswana had three successive good presidents who served their legal terms, who did well for their countries - three, not one. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Business is global. Countries need to react to that; taxes need to be paid where profit arises. Business, Commerce & Finance
Business people get many undeserved prizes - golden parachutes and bonuses even when companies fail. I don't think people should get rewarded for screwing up. Business, Commerce & Finance
Cape Verde produces good people.
Celtel established a mobile phone network in Africa at a time when investors told me that there was no market for mobile phones there. Time
Challenging vested interests requires a government's full commitment. Government
Compared to developed countries, or even to some major emerging countries, burdened by aging populations, financial crises, widening budget deficits, faltering faith in politics and growing social demands, Africa has become the world's last 'New Frontier:' a kind of 'it-continent.' Religion & God ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Computers are very expensive and they need power, and that can be a problem in Africa. Power ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Corruption exists everywhere.
Educational opportunities have supported the rise of the African middle class, the professional cadre of young people who are now willing and able to contribute to Africa's future prosperity. Future
Electoral turnout is falling among the young, and political apathy is on the rise.
Every man, woman and child knows about Mugabe, but people say, 'Mogae, who is that?'
Everywhere in Africa, you see Indian, Chinese, Brazilian businesses. Other than Coca Cola and the oil companies, it is very rare to see American businesses.
Experience counts in government even more than in business. Business, Commerce & Finance
Experience shows that when political governance and economic management diverge, overall development becomes unsustainable.
Far from being hopeless, Africa is full of hope and potential, maybe more so than any other continent. The challenge is to ensure that its potential is utilised. Hope
For citizens to become fully engaged in holding their leadership to account, accurate information is required to see where action is needed, to measure the results of policies and programmes, to build support for courageous decisions and to consolidate political legitimacy. Leaders & Leadership
From my father, I learnt kindness and how to talk straight.
Governance has been at the heart of the work of the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations and is a clear focus in its report, 'Now for the Long Term.' Future ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I am a Nubian.
I am not a politician. I am not in politics. I'm just a citizen. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
I came to the conclusion that unless you are ruled properly, you cannot move forward. Everything else is second. Everything.
I come from a typical family. Families, Children & Parenting
I don't even have a small boat. I don't even have a toy boat in my bathtub. I don't have a biplane, I don't have anything. Those things are toys, and I don't need them to be happy.
I don't subscribe to the narrative that Africa is backward because of colonialism.
I ended up being a businessman unwittingly. I wanted to be an academic; I wanted to be like Einstein.
I left Sudan when I was 25 or 26 years old. If I had stayed, I would never have ended up being an entrepreneur. You can have the qualities, but if you don't have the environment, you just wither away. It's like a fish: take it out of water, it will not survive.
I need to be free, to speak the unspeakable. You can't do that in office.
I never had a doubt that I wanted to do engineering.
I never set out really to build a financial empire or to be a wealthy man.
I really don't have heroes in business; I never looked up at business people. Business, Commerce & Finance
I think we need to look at ourselves first. We should practice what we're preaching. Otherwise, we are hypocrites.
If economic progress is not translated into better quality of life and respect for citizens' rights, we will witness more Tahrir Squares in Africa. Life ;Respect
If Sudan starts to crumble, the shock waves will spread.
If we are to build grassroots respect for the institutions and processes that constitute democracy, the state must treat its citizens as real citizens rather than as subjects. Respect
If we cannot accurately measure poverty, we surely cannot accurately measure our efforts to tackle it.
If you are African, the more educated you are, the less chances you have of getting a job.
I'm an engineer. I'm a techie, really.
I'm uncomfortable, frankly, with the hype about Africa. We went from one extreme... to, like, Africa now is the best thing after sliced bread.
In a world of growing food demand, Africa is home to two-thirds of the world's unexploited arable land. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
In the final analysis, finding a way to do clean business and not to pay bribes actually improves your bottom line. Business, Commerce & Finance
Increasing extremism - across Africa and the world - must be understood in the context of the failure of our leaders properly to manage diversity within their borders. Failure
Intimidation, harassment and violence have no place in a democracy.
It is very difficult for any dictator or any incumbent to falsify the results of an election and just get away with it.
It was a no-brainer that the cellular route would be a great success in Africa. Success
It's time Africa started listening to our young people instead of always telling them what to do. Time
Literacy in Tunisia is almost 100%. It's amazing - no country in the region or even in Asia can match Tunisia in education. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Look at the international bodies that came out of U.N. - international, publicly funded bodies that neither you or I know their names, because they are completely outdated and still publicly funded because there are no sunset clauses.
Make as much money as you can, but can you please pay your taxes, because this is a major problem. Money, Coins & Minting
Many African people are smarter than me - kids who could have been better. I have no claim for genius.
Many Africans are used to a life where they get up in the morning and don't know what they're going to do that day. Life ;Morning
Mexico established a unique three-part governing system shared by the government, the information commission and civil society organisations. Society ;Government
Mobile communications had been around for a long time, but always as a limited market, constrained by the radio spectrum. Time
Mobile phones could not work in Africa without prepaid because it's a cash society. Society ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Mobile phones play a really wonderful role in enabling civil society. As well as empowering people economically and socially, they are a wonderful political tool. Society
Modern slavery is a hidden crime and notoriously difficult to measure.
More people smile at me now I'm richer.
Most of the money I made has gone back to Africa or is going back to Africa. Money, Coins & Minting
Multinationals don't pay taxes in Africa - we all know that.
Nobody can come and develop Africa on behalf of Africans.
Nobody in Africa loves to be a beggar or a recipient of aid. Everywhere I go in Africa, people say, 'When are we going to stand up on our feet?'
Nobody messes with China, nobody messes with the United States, or with Europe, because these are really big entities with a lot of clout and a lot of economic power. They have a place at the table. Power
Not any amount of aid is going to move Africa forward.
Now is the time for Afro-realism: for sound policies based on honest data, aimed at delivering results. Time
Of course, Nelson Mandela, everybody knows Nelson Mandela. I mean, he's a great gift not only for Africa but for the whole world, actually. But do not expect everybody to be a Nelson Mandela.
People never confess to failure. They should. Failure
Positive market incentives operating in the public interest are too few and far between, and are also up against a seemingly never-ending expansion of perverse incentives and lobbying.
Remarkably, governments are beginning to embrace the idea that nothing enhances democracy more than giving voice and information to everybody in the country. Why not open their books if they have nothing to hide?
Remember, 2000 was the year of the dot-com bust. The telecom industry lost about $2 trillion in market capital at that time. Time
Retail banking in Africa is very weak. You can't go to a village and get money from an ATM or visit a branch of the bank. So people have to use the Internet. Money, Coins & Minting
Roads are not practical in Africa.
Rule of law is the most important element in any civil society. Society
Rwanda really did take very strong steps towards development. I mean, this place is unrecognizable. There's a very good management of economy and resources - it's a success story, and that's great. Success
Societies are not sustainable without institutions.
Sudan cannot afford to be on the wrong side of history. The north and south will have to work together, but will they? History ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Sudan has been an experiment that resonated across Africa: if we, the largest country on the continent, reaching from the Sahara to the Congo, bridging religions, cultures and a multitude of ethnicities, were able to construct a prosperous and peaceful state from our diverse citizenry, so too could the rest of Africa.
The African Development Bank is one of the most aggressive advocates of regional integration.
The brain drain from Africa has been reversed.
The fight against Ebola cannot undermine the fight against poverty.
The Ibrahim Index is a tool to hold governments to account and frame the debate about how we are governed.
The issue with international institutions is that there is a crisis of legitimacy. Trust in these institutions is a serious problem. Trust
The leakage of information means you're going to be able to read everybody's e-mail.
The mobile industry changed Africa.
The Nobel Prize is worth $1.5 million, but that's not the issue. Do the distinguished scientists who win the Nobel Prize need the money? Probably not. The honor is more important the money, and that's the case with the prize for African leadership as well. Leaders & Leadership ;Money, Coins & Minting
The problem is that many times people suspend their common sense because they get drowned in business models and Harvard business school teachings. Business, Commerce & Finance
The Security Council represents the situation from 1945 - you had the Allies who won the war who occupied that. The defeated guys - the Germans and Japan - were out. The occupied countries had no voice. That was fine in '45, but today, Germany rules Europe, frankly. They are driving Europe but have no voice. War & Peace
The state and its elites must be subject, in theory and in practice, to the same laws that its poorest citizens are.
The U.S. has been a great friend all these years, but as soon as Africa found itself starting to move up, the U.S. is really disengaging.
The way forward for Africa is investment.
The Zimbabwean people, like everyone else, have a right to live in freedom and prosperity and to select their leaders through fair and democratic elections. Freedom & Liberty
There is a crisis of leadership and governance in Africa, and we must face it. Leaders & Leadership
There's no point in trying to hoard money after life, so better really to share with people. Life ;Money, Coins & Minting
To be frank, I don't think President Obama gives much thought to Africa - or gives much to Africa.
Tony Blair is paid $500,000 for one speech, and no one asks how he is going to spend it.
Transfer pricing is causing huge problems in Africa.
We cannot expect loyalty to an unjust regime.
We measure everything - why not governance?
We need to keep pressure on our own governments to force more and more transparency.
What do you do if you're an executive who resigns? You declare yourself a consultant.
What is a government supposed to do for its people? To improve the standard of living, to help them get jobs, get kids to schools, and have access to medicine and hospitals. Government may not directly provide these public goods and services, but government must be accountable for whether or not they are delivered to citizens. Government
What we need in Africa is balanced development. Economic success cannot be a replacement for human rights or participation or democracy... it doesn't work. Success ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
When Captain Moussa Dadis Camara came to power, too many thought he would hold to his promise to stand down, introduce democratic elections and restore the rule of law. Power
When I was young, there was only one TV channel, sponsored by the government, and it only broadcast things like what the leader had for breakfast. There was no real media. Government
When you ask people what they think of Africa, they think of AIDS, genocide, disasters, famine.
While the Marshall Plan was important for Europe's recovery, Europe's prosperity was really built on economic integration and policy coherence.
Women do kids. Women do cooking. Women doing everything. And yet, their position in society is totally unacceptable. Society ;Women
Women in Africa are really the pillar of the society, are the most productive segment of society, actually. They do agriculture. Society ;Women
You fly for hours and hours and hours over Africa to go from one place to another.
You get over your first love by falling in love with something new. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Young people are better educated. They grew up in a society which is well connected, well informed. They are able to communicate to one another, to know what is happening. Society
Young people, all too often, find their interests overlooked and their voices ignored.