Home MIXED GRILL How Billionaire Mike Adenuga Waters His Business Empire

How Billionaire Mike Adenuga Waters His Business Empire


The profile of Dr. Mike Adeniyi Ishola Adenuga Jr. (CON), Chairman of the Mike Adenuga Group, probably the biggest business empire in Africa, can fittingly be summed up as the story of African enterprise.
He is today one of the most recognisable names on the African continent. Born fifty-nine years ago, Adenuga is a quintessential businessman who has made his mark so distinctly that world leaders speak glowingly about him.
One of the world’s wealthiest men, Dr. Adenuga sits atop what is generally regarded as one of the continent’s largest business empires comprising oil and gas, telecoms, aviation, banking and real estate.
In each of these sectors, Dr. Adenuga has moulded his companies into major, if not dominant, players. In the oil and gas sector, for instance, Conoil Plc is one of the largest and most profitable oil marketing companies in Nigeria. Conoil Producing, the downstream arm of the conglomerate, made history by becoming the first Nigerian company to strike oil and produce it in commercial quantity in 1991. In banking, Equitorial Trust Bank (ETB) was one of the few banks that effortlessly met the N25b capital requirement during the 2005 banking consolidation exercise without going to the stock market. It only merged with Devcom Bank which was also owned by Adenuga. Last year, ETB merged with Sterling Bank.

In telecoms, Globacom is not only the most innovative network in Nigeria, it also, in its first year of operation, became the fastest growing in Africa and the Middle East, with operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Benin Republic, Senegal, Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire. Adenuga also has a multi-billion dollar investment in real estate. These companies provide direct employment to thousands of workers and millions of others indirectly.
Dr. Michael Adeniyi Ishola Adenuga Jr. (CON) was born in 1953, in the ancient city of Ibadan, into the family of Chief Mike Adenuga Snr., a school teacher and Madam Oyindamola Adenuga, a successful trader and Yeyeoba of Ijebuland. Adenuga is a native of Ijebu Igbo in Ogun State of Nigeria.
The young Adenuga attended the famous Ibadan Grammar School, in Oyo State, Nigeria, for his secondary education and studied Business Administration at Northwestern State University, Alva Oklahoma in the United States. He also earned a Masters degree at Pace University, New York, majoring in Business Administration with emphasis on Marketing. In recognition of his business accomplishments and outstanding contributions to the growth of the country, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the Ogun State University.

An encounter with Otunba Adenuga would reveal a man of uncommon intellect; a man with a deep passion for his calling; a man who is focused and considers achieving as a personal mantra. He lives a life that thrives on hard work.
His sojourn in the United States of America in search of the proverbial Golden Fleece added an exciting chapter to his impressive resume. Even though the young Adenuga came from a relatively comfortable background, he paid his way through school with money he raised from driving taxi cabs and working as security guard, at different times.
Adenuga is certainly no new kid on the block as far as entrepreneurial acumen is concerned. He had attracted national attention as far back as 1991 when his Consolidated Oil Limited struck oil in commercial quantity. He is reputed to have distinguished himself in the business of importation at the young age of 22! And ever since, Dr. Adenuga has bestrode the world of modern business like a colossus.

His latest achievement has been the laying of an international submarine cable, Glo 1, which has gigantic capacity to Africa directly to Europe and America. The optic fibre cable provides excess bandwidth to all the cities connected to the cable, and has lead to a much faster and robust connectivity for voice, data and video.
The man Adenuga means different things to different people. A husband, father, team leader, role model, an entrepreneur par excellence! Though he has made giant strides in several business categories, Nigerians would probably remember him more for his timely intervention in the telecommunications arena, where he seems to hold the aces that determine the pace of play. Globacom’s historic introduction of Per Second Billing was the first time any network had launched on the billing platform. His network also pioneered such revolutionary products as Blackberry, vehicle tracking, mobile internet and mobile banking services in Nigeria. When the history of telecommunications industry in Africa is written, Adenuga surely would earn a chapter as a man who disrupted an oligarchic convention for the benefit of mankind.

He was honoured by the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the National Awards of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) and later with the award of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON). During Nigeria’ 50th anniversary celebration, Adenuga was one of the 50 pre-eminent Nigerians who were conferred with the Special Golden Jubilee Independence Anniversary Awards by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Adenuga’s nomination was as a result of his immense contributions to the growth of oil and gas, banking and the telecoms industries in the country. Checks showed that Adenuga merited the special award due to the great sacrifice he made to ensure the re-invention of the country’s telecoms industry.

An astute world-class business expert, with worldwide business interests, Dr. Adenuga is a highly respected entrepreneur and one of the biggest employers of labour in the country. In the last two decades, he has established a pedigree as a well focussed and prudent manager of men and resources with the uncanny ability to successfully transform ideas and dormant businesses to highly viable enterprises.
Dr. Adenuga Jr. has always been in the news on account of several patriotic initiatives. Globacom is the biggest supporter of football in Africa and has raised the profile of football in Nigeria and Ghana with the sponsorship of the Premier Leagues and national football teams of the two countries. The company has so far spent over N6 billion on Nigerian football. It has also transformed the annual CAF Awards and made it the most glamorous sports event on the continent.

CAF has awarded Adenuga, the Pillar of Football in Africa for his strong support for African Football at both national and continental levels. At the 2nd edition of the Glo-CAF Awards held in Ghana, former President John Kufour declared Adenuga Africa’s No.1 Businessman for his promotion of the continent through his business empire.
Dr Adenuga has won numerous awards in recognition of his personal and business accomplishments among which is the African Telecoms Entrepreneur of the year for his courageous and rapid investment in the telecoms sector. He was early 2010 voted Nigeria’s Most Outstanding Business Personality in the last 50 years. In an online poll conducted by This Day, he polled 4272 votes to edge out the Chairman, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote who scored 4156. Founder of Diamond Bank, Mr Pascal Dozie, polled 3316, Olorogun Michael Ibru got 3073 while the Chairman, First City Monument Bank, Otunba Subomi Balogun polled 2801.

In 2009, Dr. Adenuga won the coveted Silverbird Man of the Year Award, polling over 75% of the votes cast to edge out other eminent personalities such as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Foreign Affairs Minister, Odein Ajumogobia, and the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, among others. The annual award is facilitated by Silverbird Communications, owners of Silverbird TV and Rhythm 93.7 FM. Similarly, several other media organisations, Sun Newspapers, Independent Newspapers, Leadership Newspapers; Compass Newspapers; City People and Ovation International Magazine have also honoured the Globacom Chairman with their Man of the Year Award within the last few years.
In spite of his towering achievements, he remains an epitome of modesty.


Since launch in 2003, Globacom has remained Nigeria’s leading telecommunications company, delivering innovative services and playing significant roles in the country’s journey to development.
Glo firmly established itself as a leader in innovation when it became the first network to launch on per second billing and the first to introduce it in Nigeria. The innovation by Globacom made it possible for GSM users to pay for only actual time spent on the phone. It also immediately assumed the role of a catalyst in ensuring reliable and affordable telecom services. Through the crashing of the cost of GSM line and call costs from N20,000 and N50 a minute to as low as N200 and 5 kobo per second respectively, the company has ensured massive telephone penetration in Nigeria. By making telephony accessible to the common man, Glo has accelerated national development. That over 100 million Nigerians in both urban and rural areas today have access to the telephone is attributable to the network’s intervention.

With the pioneering of latest technology and wide range of value added services, Globacom has consistently supported efforts to empower the people of Nigeria and accelerate national development. Among the revolutionary products launched by Globacom are Blackberry, vehicle tracking, mobile internet, mobile banking, multimedia messaging service (MMS), in-flight roaming services, voice SMS, Magic Plus and Text2email. Globacom is currently playing a leading role in the realization of government’s cashless society by providing the technological platform for the nation’s leading banks to launch mobile money services.

Globacom has also become the first network to launch the first 4G-LTE network in Nigeria. The launch, which is on a trial basis, effectively put Nigeria in the league of nations where Long Term Evolution (LTE) has continued to gain ground. LTE is a revolutionary Fourth Generation Mobile Technology which enhances data transfer rates, delivering unmatched mobile broadband experience and highest data speeds and reliability.

In keeping with its aspirations to avail Africa the possibilities offered by broadband, Globacom built an international submarine cable, Glo 1. This is the first time in the world any company has undertaken such a project single handedly. Today, critical sectors from oil and gas to manufacturing, banking, commerce, education and health are benefiting from the technological evolution in Nigeria and Ghana. The cable facilitates teleconferencing, distance learning, disaster recovery and telemedicine among several other benefits for the African people.

The magical possibilities Glo 1 offers the continent puts Globacom on a good pedestal to realize its vision to be the largest, most successful entertainment, information and telecommunications solutions provider both in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Also in further pursuit of this vision, Glo has extended operations to Republic of Benin, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Gambia.

Globacom recently hit the 34 million subscriber mark across the region following Glo Ghana’s acquisition of 2 million subscribers in just four months of operations.

Its international Wholesale Voice and Data Exchange and Trading Business Unit, Glo Gateway is now a leading provider of telephone hubbing services for the rest of the world. It has interconnectivity arrangement with over 400 networks and roaming partnerships in over 180 countries. Globacom is the first operator in Africa to launch gateway switches outside the continent to carry international voice and data traffic. This strategically positions the network as a major player in the global telecommunication industry.

Globacom has commenced commercial operation on its fixed line service (Broad Access). The fixed network offers convergent phone and broadband internet services. It gives users of Broad Access telephones and broadband internet services unmatched voice clarity and instant and unlimited access to the internet at unimaginable speeds.

Believing that a corporate entity has obligations to the society where it operates, Globacom invests heavily in social responsibility causes. It is the biggest supporter of sports in Africa. It is the sponsor of the national teams and the Premier Leagues in the two countries. Globacom is also the sponsor of the Glo Lagos International Half Marathon and the annual Confederation of African Football (CAF) Awards which it has elevated to a major event in the global football chart. The company is also at the forefront of private sector-led poverty eradication initiatives in several states across the country.

In recognition of its pioneering role in the industry, Globacom has won several awards since launch in 2003. The most recent include Most Socially Responsible Company by the Nigerian Capital Development Fund, GSM Company of the Year by Leadership Newspaper, THISDAY Brand of the Year, Best Telecoms Company of the Year, Best Mobile Company of the Year and Best Telecoms Investor of the Year by Nigeria Telecoms Awards. Others are Pan-African Telecom Investor of the Year, Rural Access Phone Service Provider of the Year, GSM Operator of the Year and National Operator of the Year by Nigerian Technology and Telecom awards (NITTA).

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