Nigerian Businessman Belo-Osagie Honored By the Harvard Business School's Africa Business Club and the African Leadership Academy

Source: Arthur C. Marshall

High Point, NC – (May 22, 2012) Ranked by Forbes magazine as one of Africa's richest individuals, Hakeem Belo-Osagie, chairman of Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd. (Etisalat Nigeria), recently added two more achievements to his remarkable resume. Citing him as “a key player in the Nigerian economy,” the Africa Business Club of Harvard Business School presented Belo-Osagie with its Leadership Excellence Award for his contributions to Africa's development. And, a school he helped found named a wing after him and his wife, lawyer Myma Belo-Osagie.

Nigerian-born Bela-Osagie has made his mark in that nation's energy, financial and telecommunications sectors. The son of a gynecologist and a nurse, Belo-Osagie was educated across three continents. He is a product of elite Kings College, a government-run boys school in Lagos dating back to 1909. He came to Harvard Business School with an M.A. in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University and a law degree from Cambridge University. He credits these institutions with cultivating his high standards, intellectual vigor, concern for those less fortunate, and respect for diversity.

It was Oxford, though, that broadened young Belo-Osagie's world view and shaped his social conscience. “I went to a college of Oxford that was very international,” he says, “and that tended to have a lot of teachers who were concerned with things like civil rights, the labor movement and how society should be changed for the better.” Through them, he came to understand the social movements unfolding in the United States. At the same time, he met not only Africans from outside Nigeria, but also Caribbeans and African-Americans.
If Oxford's scholars raised his awareness, the American experience at Harvard Business School gave him what he calls “a can-do spirit.” Says Belo-Osagie, “In the United States, there is a sense that nothing is beyond you, if you really set your mind to it.”

By the time he earned his Harvard M.B.A. in 1980, his newfound American audacity had merged with an independent streak inherited from his father. Those traits emboldened him in a first job—as a lawyer and petroleum economist in the president's office—that might have intimidated another young novice. “I had hoped to become a top official in Nigeria,” he recalls.

That dream was dashed by the 1983 coup d'etat. The resilient Belo-Osagie landed at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. By 1986, though, he started his first enterprise, CTIC, which became a leading energy consulting firm.
His next feat was the hostile takeover of United Bank for Africa. The bank, now Nigeria's largest, grew exponentially under his watch. After leaving the bank, he founded and chaired First Securities Discount House, Nigeria's leading money markets and treasury bill trading financial services firm.

These days, Belo-Osagie is focused on the telecommunications and entertainment industries. In addition to chairing, and holding an equity stake in, the mobile telephone operator Etisalat Nigeria, he chairs Chocolate City Group, a music, media and movie production company. He also chairs the board of directors of the Abuja Investment Company and serves on the board of Timbuktu Media, a new venture that aims to publish a national daily in Nigeria.

While Harvard Business School is lauding Belo-Osagie's past achievements, he is using philanthropy to transform Africa's future. Together, he and his wife, whose father was also a gynecologist, have funded African students attending Oxford University, Nigerian and Ghanian medical schools and an international school in Wales. The couple's shared interest in health issues led them to set up a blood bank and support infertility efforts.

Mr. Belo-Osagie, however, is most passionate about the African Leadership Academy (ALA), a Johannesburg, South Africa-based residential secondary school of which he is a founding supporter and a board member. When he was a banker, he and his colleagues noted “the decline of education in Africa.” The continent, they believed, “needed a school that would draw from the best of Africa.” Founded in 2008, the highly selective ALA immerses promising youth in a rigorous two-year curriculum of leadership, service and African studies. The ALA network includes 400 young leaders from across the continent.

Now, the academy also has a wing named for two of its most ardent advocates, Hakeem and Myma Belo-Osagie. The couple visited campus for the dedication. “It was a very touching occasion,” says Mr. Belo-Osagie. “There were Moroccan students, Egyptian students, students from Mali, students from Nigeria, students from Ghana and African-American students all learning together. It was great to see that dream realized.”

“Founded in 1908, the Harvard Business School (HBS) produced leaders and ideas that shaped the practice of management in vital organizations of every kind around the globe. At HBS, students see the school's history as a challenge—a legacy of energy and innovation HBS strives to equal every day. From HBS's faculty to alumni, the greater HBS community continues to redefine the nature of management education and to invent the future of business. The Africa Business Club is dedicated to increasing the awareness within the HBS community of business opportunities on the African continent. Activities are professional, educational and social in nature, and are open to all members of Harvard.”

“African Leadership Academy (ALA) seeks to transform Africa by developing and supporting future generations of African leaders. Opening in 2008, African Leadership Academy brings together 250 of the most promising 15-18 year old leaders from all 54 African nations for an innovative two-year program designed to prepare each student for a lifetime of leadership on the continent. Students are selected to attend the Academy based on merit alone and complete an innovative curriculum with a focus on leadership, entrepreneurship, and African studies. ALA graduates attend the world's finest universities and return to lead Africa toward a peaceful and prosperous future. ALA is a nonprofit institution located in Johannesburg, South Africa.”
Source: African Leadership Academy Brochure