Six months in the saddle as CEO of Airtel Africa, Segun Ogunsanya uses his extraordinary leadership skills to make the organization not only the largest, but also the most profitable and reliable mobile telecommunications network on the continent, writes Ugo Aliogo
The past week has seen an outbreak of good news for Indian-born telecommunications company, Airtel Africa Plc, which operates telecommunications and mobile money services in 14 countries across Africa.
First, it was an announcement by the London Stock Exchange (LSE) that Airtel Africa, which was listed on the Exchange in 2019, would join the exclusive list of largest companies by market capitalization on January 31, 2022-FTSE 100 Airtel Africa has thus become the largest African company on the LSE. Before the ink dried on this spectacular news, the Nigerian media was abuzz over the fact that Airtel Africa had become the biggest company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NGX). In this singular move, Airtel Africa not only overtook Dangote Cement Plc, which colonized this position for some time, but also became bigger than all the Nigerian banks listed on the NGX combined. And meanwhile, news came from global headquarters in New Delhi that tech giant, Google, is investing $1 billion in Bharti-Airtel, the parent company, for a 1.28% stake. What an extremely proud moment that would be for the investors, founders, management and employees of the company!
Perhaps most remarkable about this good news is that it comes in the midst of an extremely difficult business year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Airtel Africa is succeeding despite the coronavirus-induced global economic crisis. Credit goes to the management and staff of the company led by Obafemi Awolowo University-educated electronics and electronics engineer Segun Ogunsanya, born in Nigeria and educated at the university.
Ogunsanya was appointed last year to replace Mr Raghunath Mandava as CEO of Airtel Africa after nine years as Managing Director and Managing Director of Airtel Nigeria. After running the company for only about six months, it’s safe to say that Ogunsanya has the Midas Touch and everything he touches turns to gold. It comes as no surprise to industry watchers as he achieved a similar feat at Airtel Nigeria, which turned PAT (Profit After Tax) positive just one year after joining Coca Cola’s Hellenic’s business. Bottling Company, Nigeria.
Segun is a veteran having been CEO for 23 years. He turned 55 last July. A Chartered Engineer and Accountant, as promised earlier, he has over 30 years of related experience under his belt gained across multiple geographies, organizations and various industries such as Telecom, Consulting, Banking and Consumer Goods fast (FMCG).
He joined Airtel Nigeria from The Coca-Cola System, where he began his career in finance and gradually progressed into management positions within The Coca-Cola Company’s various bottling operations in various markets and countries. ‘Africa. In his last term as Managing Director and CEO of Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company in Nigeria, the first African to be so appointed, he was responsible for revenue operations of over $1 billion a year.
He was also CEO of Kenya Operations for Coca-Cola Sabco, where he was instrumental in the company’s successful turnaround. Prior to that, he worked at Eco bank Transnational where, as Managing Director of its retail bank for Africa, he was responsible for retail banking operations in 28 countries.
Between 1999 and 2007, he was Managing Director of The Coca-Cola Bottling of Company of Ghana, where he transformed the business from a loss-making venture into a lucrative one, in addition to overseeing the Government of Ghana’s divestiture of the ‘business.
Besides manufacturing and banking, Mr. Ogunsanya has advisory experience having worked with Arthur Anderson & Co in Nigeria where he was involved in auditing, tax advisory, new business formation and business improvement services. profits.
Ogunsanya is arguably the first African to lead a FTSE 100 company. Accustomed to recording firsts, he is also the first black African CEO of Coca-Cola Bottling of Ghana; First black African General Manager of Coca-Cola Sabco’s bottling operations in Kenya and first African General Manager of Coca-Cola Hellenic’s bottling operations in Nigeria.
In 2012, he was appointed as a member of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Strategic Policy Implementation and Technical Committee by the Federal Government of Nigeria. He was a member of the Business Support Group, which was established to provide a platform to anchor the views of the organized private sector on the development of a National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan for the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2013.
Director on the Board of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, the leading private sector advocacy group in Nigeria and Director on the Board of Grange Education Ltd (Grange School). He has also served on the boards of the following organizations on several occasions: Coca-Cola Holdings, Kenya, Coca-Cola Juice Company, Kenya (BSK Limited), Board of Trustees of Machakos Institute of Developmental Studies (Kenya), American Chambers of Commerce, Ghana (Vice-Chair), Post Graduate Medical School of Ghana Board of Trustees, Junior Achievers, Ghana Chapter, and ICT Advisory Board, Nigeria.
Ogunsanya, an alumnus of the highly regarded Mayflower School in Ikenne, Ogun State, holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Ife, Nigeria. He is also a Chartered Accountant. A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Institute of Credit Administration and Institute of Directors in Nigeria, he is also an Honorary Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Food, Science and Technology. He is a member of the prestigious Lagos Metropolitan Club, Ikoyi Club and Lagos Motor Boat Club.
On November 28, 2021, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Computer Education by Tai Solarin University of Education, Ogun State, Nigeria. So you can call him Dr Segun Ogunsanya!
If his track record matches Ogunsanya, with his extraordinary leadership skills and groundbreaking management team, he is well positioned to make Airtel Africa the largest, most profitable and reliable mobile telecommunications network. from the continent. Airtel Africa’s publicly avowed commitment to “expanding financial inclusion, sustainably bridging the digital divide, meeting changing customer needs and supporting host communities” appear to be strong enough pillars to make the above dream come true. a reality. With the recent approval of Mobile Money and Super Agent licenses for Airtel in Nigeria, the coast is clear for bigger revenue and the reality will be sooner rather than later.
No wonder at the news of his elevation, President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated him, saying that the flag of Nigeria was once again hoisted proudly over the African horizon.
Buhari added that the appointment has once again proved that Nigeria is full of quality professionals, who can hold their own in any part of the continent, and even beyond.
President Buhari said that with the related experience of the new Managing Director/CEO for Africa, which spans consulting, banking, fast moving consumer goods and telecommunications, he would discharge honorable its new role and would repeat the strides that have positioned it as Airtel Nigeria as the second largest telecommunications company by revenue, serving over 50 million customers.
He urged young Nigerians to learn from Ogunsanya, saying that with focus, hard work and ingenuity, they would reach the pinnacle of any career they chose for themselves.
“The reward for hard work is more work,” President Buhari said, as he wished Ogunsanya greater success ahead.