Mo Ibrahim vs Al Amoudi



By De Birhan 31/12/10In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the brother who always obeys his father is furious at seeing the rebel son received with celebrations and joy. In the same way, many people who are obedient to the Lord’s word, end up becoming the merciless hangmen of all those who one day strayed from the Law.In a small village in the interior, a well-known sinner was barred from entering the church.

He was angry and prayed:

“Jesus, hear me. They will not let me into your house, for they think I am not worthy.”

“Do not worry, my son,” answered Jesus. “I too am on the outside, together with those I have always stood alongside – sinners like yourself.”


The above excerpt is from the Warrior of the Light – Volume 3 by Paulo Coelho, 2008.

Dear fellas! Readers of this blog!

Hours before writing this opinion piece, I was chillin in one of the social media spots that I spend my recess often at. There, I got some people complementing me and other demoting my opinion and items. Well that is how the ‘world of blogosphere and cyber sphere’ is. 2011 is almost in. Many wish the new-year to be a year of ‘freedom’, ‘prosperity’ and ‘success’ and most importantly, our country becomes the real ‘utopia’. Luckily, we celebrate two new years, ours and theirs. However, a heartbreaking story of our brothers and sisters just produced by beebs ( filled the eve with grieve .The report complements Paulo’s excerpt above.

I, for one, wish the New Year may bring us all the most and best. Hoping that these wishes could come true through the concerted efforts of Ethiopia’s individual citizens and collective actions of all forms of cooperatives inside and outside of our beloved motherland, I propose that some ‘great’ individuals of the country should make use of their knowledge, potential and wealth more than any other time now. One of these men that I think could do a lot for the betterment of Ethiopia and Africa but have used their potentials little or misused it is the Saudi-Ethiopian tycoon, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali Al Amoudi. Here with I make a short comparative analysis of two African tycoons: Dr. Mohamed “Mo” Ibrahim and Al Amoudi.

1) Similarities





Mohamed Ibrahim


Mohammed Al Amoudi



Date of Birth













Dual Nationality





Ethiopian/Saudi Arabian





Ph.D from the University of Birmingham in mobile communications


holds an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy from the Addis Ababa University


Investment focus



East Africa, Worldwide


East Africa, Worldwide



2) Differences


2.1 Business specialisations


One of the major of differences between Dr. Mohamed “Mo” Ibrahim and Mohamed Al Amoudi is their business specialisation. Mo. Ibrahim an entrepreneurial communications professional has generated his wealth from this knowledge oriented business sector becoming one of the few billionaires in the world. In 1989 he founded MSI, a consultancy and software company, which was bought by Marconi in 2000. In 1998, MSI spun off MSI-Cellular Investments, later renamed Celtel, as a mobile phone operator in Africa. According to the Forbes 2008 Rich List, Mo Ibrahim is worth $2.5 billion. Mo Ibrahim was selected for the TIME 100 list in 2008. He was also recognised by EETIMES as one of 35 people, places and things to watch out for in 2008.He was also recognised for doing ethical business and executing proper Corporate Social Responsibility.


While Al Amoudi’s wealth emanates majorly from oil trade and has now encompassed a conglomerate model. He owns a broad portfolio of businesses not only in oil but also in mining, agriculture, hotels, hospitals, finance, operations and maintenance. Al Amoudi made his fortune in construction and real estate before branching out to buy oil refineries in Sweden and Morocco. He is said to be the largest foreign investor in both Sweden and Ethiopia. In 2008, Forbes ranked Mohammed Al Amoudi as the 97th richest person in the world with a net worth of $9 billion. In 2009, Forbes ranked Mohammed Al Amoudi as the 43rd richest person in the world at a net worth of $9 billion. Al Amoudi has been criticised various times for dong an unethical business. He has been criticised by local press in Ethiopia for being a ‘rent seeker’ and land and property ‘grabber’. At times, residents in his business areas have protested his ‘illegal and irresponsible’ business eg. The protests of the residents of Legedembi Gold Mine are some.


2.3 Political Difference


In terms of political stand, Mo. Ibrahim remains to be fully independent and neutral of any political affiliation. Albeit, he is highly involved in political events and program that concern the continent of Africa via his Foundation, The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Ibrahim never has affiliated himself with any political party or ideology in his native Sudan or in the international politics. He has always called and publicly prayed for peace and understanding in Sudan between all sides and forces.


Al Amoudi on the other hand, has been an ardent financer and supporter of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the head ruling wing of EPRDF party and was donating money to Clinton Foundation. He was seen wearing a t-shirt bearing the election logo of the ruling party, bee. Al Amoudi was named as one of the Clinton Foundation Donors, according to information released as part of an obligation placed on former President Clinton when he supported Hillary Clinton‘s nomination as Secretary of State. Al Amoudi is reported to have donated between $1,000,001 to $5,000,000.The photos above portray Al Amudi’s political inclination and outright support of the current ruling party in Ethiopia and Foundation’s and parties the world over. As the pictures tell for themselves, there is no need for caption or explanation.

2.4 Vision, Dream and


I was prompted to write this article when I accidentally came across this video ( found in the middle of the page as you enter the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s official website. The video was screened on the weekend of 20 and 21 November, 2010 when the Mo Ibrahim Foundation hosted a cultural celebration and discussion forum on regional economic integration of Africa in Mauritius. The speakers ranging from Mo Ibrahim himself to, Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius ,country rated as the most democratic in the past year by the Foundation, Donald Kiberuka of the African Development Bank (ADB),and many other African academics, civil society leaders, investors and politicians from all over Africa attended the forum. The program was stunning. So blessed with positive visions, dreams and goal and visionary Africans and concluding with an action plan. The man behind all this was Mo Ibrahim doing it through his Foundation, the Mo. Ibrahim Foundation. Established in 2006, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation aims to support good governance and great leadership in Africa. The Foundation works to: Stimulate debate on good governance, provide criteria by which citizens and governments can measure progress, recognise achievement in African leadership and provide a practical way in which leaders can build positive legacies on the continent when they have left office and support aspiring leaders for the African continent.

According to Ibrahim, “Good governance is crucial.” With a $5 million initial payment, plus $200,000 a year for life, the prize is believed to be the world’s largest, exceeding the $1.3m Nobel Peace Prize. Former South African President Nelson Mandela, former United States President Bill Clinton, and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan are among those who have welcomed the initiative. The inaugural Prize was awarded to former president Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, for “his role in leading Mozambique from conflict to peace and democracy.” Festus Mogae won the 2008 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, and will receive US$ 5 million over 10 years and US$ 200,000 annually for life thereafter.

The information available on the Foundation’s site states “the Foundation publishes the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, ranking the performance of all 53 African countries. Until 2009, the Index took into account only the 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Countries are graded on factors which fall into four main categories: Safety and rule of law, sustainable economic opportunity, human development, and participation and human rights.’’

The Foundation is committed to supporting great an African leadership that will improve the economic and social prospects of the people of Africa.

He says development cannot be achieved without good governance. Good governance ensures that all of a country’s resources are harnessed effectively and fairly to translate into improved quality of life for its people. Every arena, from healthcare to environmental stewardship, from education to human and political rights, is affected by the quality and nature of governance. While there have been improvements in many African countries recently, weaknesses in governance and leadership capacity are central to the issues currently facing the continent.

Well I think this is what Africa needs at this moment. Precious child of Africa, Ibrahim works for the safety, development and prosperity of Africans. He has no political party that he supports but enterprisingly sweats for the freedom, equality and justice of Africans including his native Sudan. He encourages all parties and politicians to step up together with the common denominator of good governance than the prosperity of few political parties, junta or clique.

To the contrary, our Al Amoudi doesn’t do any of the above. He is the opposite of all the above , except his few donations to hospitals, NGOs and individuals and few other causes in Ethiopia and else, he is not recorded doing anything meaningful in terms of good governance ,democracy ,equality or peace and tranquillity in Africa or his native Ethiopia.

Still compared with Ibrahim, Al Amoudi’s philanthropic activities such as the building of a 140-bed health care facility that supports visual impairment, disabled, children’s health, works in poverty alleviation programmes, overseas scholarships and sponsoring of the CECAFA Cup, Africa’s oldest cup competition for the last three years, can’t even reach one third of Ibrahim’s philanthropic works. I have heard of him saying that he is so committed for the progress and development of Ethiopia but I doubt if he meant it really or has really found out how he can realise the vision. Maybe he needs better advisors. Making huge investments and employing thousands of jobless Ethiopians can in no way be viewed as a success or improving Ethiopia. Ethiopia could be developed when the society cross sectionally gets fair access to resources, is empowered, is free, is equal and good governance is achieved.

Being an ardent supporter of the ruling party would only alienate and diminish the tycoon that could be looked up as model and icon of success by the Ethiopian (African) youth. Al Amoudi has lost huge credibility from the opposition parties in Ethiopia, their supporters, media and independent analysts due to his open support of the ruling party in Ethiopia .He has compromised his independence, neutrality and moral integrity. His financial, moral and investment role and support with the current regime in Ethiopia makes him an indirect perpetrator and elongator of the human rights abuse and the regime’s life span, as to many.

Unlike Ibrahim, he followed the Chinese model of non interference and neglected the abuse of human rights in the country. He never spoke of inhuman treatment of citizens in Ethiopia or Africa.

If Ibrahim progresses with his current pace and scope, his Foundation would be able to succeed in creating an Africa that is well governed, free, democratic and developed in less than a decade. If his vision, dreams and goals were followed or were at least assisted by tycoons like Al Amoudi, the achievement could be in the offing.

To support this write up with a strong literature on the role of investors and tycoons in good governance or the prevalence of democratic system, I have spent a day with no avail of finding one paper. This tells that the topic area is recommendable for researchers to further investigate.

Paulo Coelho’s piece is an amazing example of the exodus, exile and exclusion of the true children of Ethiopia from the holy land. The ‘false children’ of Ethiopia are now the ones who are inside, some looting, others cooperating in the looting process and many being looted. True children of Ethiopia on the outside, need to be considered worthy and let in and work for the betterment of their motherland.

The vision ,dream and goal of Ibrahim is to root out the central problem of Africa’s underdevelopment and backwardness i.e. maladministration or bad governance and instill good governance instead.Al Amoudi’s vision, dreams and goals, where as, so far only seem to be making money,money and awarding celebrities.

Gashe Al Amoudi ! It is time to invest on Good Governance!



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