Mike Adenuga: Celebrating Black Excellence In Serial Entrepreneurship

by Duke Magazine

Mike Adenuga Jr., born Micheal Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga is a Nigerian business tycoon. He is currently one of Africa’s richest men. 

Born in 1953, he saw himself through school by joggling jobs as a taxi driver and security guard to support his education, even till tertiary level. He later graduated from Northwestern Alva Oklahoma State University and Pace University, New York, with a degree in business administration. 

Starting business at his teenage years, Adenuga made his first fortune at age 26 in the 1970s when he returned to Nigeria after studying in the US. He took over his mother’s sawmill business and distributed lace and other materials. While going about his normal business, he made some powerful friends in the Nigerian military and relied on those relationships to have a breakthrough in Nigerian business world. Nigeria’s former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, awarded him an oil prospecting license. He used that to build Conoil and became the first Nigerian to strike oil in commercial quantities.

In 1990, he received a drilling license and in 1991, his consolidation struck oil in the shallow waters of South Western Ondo State, the first indigenous oil company to do so in commercial quantity. That was a major boom for Adenuga and his business.

However, in 1999, he was issued a conditional GSM license, which was later revoked. He then received the second one when the government held another auction in 2003. His Telecom company, Globacom spread quickly and started challenging the giant MTN Group.

He has really been able to build a behemoth business empire in mobile telecommunications and oil production. He launched Globacom mobile phone network in 2006, which has since reached about 30 million subscribers, extending the tentacles of its operation to neighboring West African countries (Republic of Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Ivory Coast). 

His oil firm, Conoil is one of the formidable names in Nigeria’s downstream petroleum industry. The company is engaged in the marketing of refined petroleum products and also in the manufacturing and marketing of high quality lubricants and chemicals for domestic and industrial use. 

Globacom, which is Adenuga’s telecoms company built an $800 million high capacity fibre-optic cable known as Glo-1, a submarine cable from United Kingdom to Nigeria. it is the first successful submarine cable, making Glo the first individual African company to embark on such a project. Glo-1 has the potential to provide high speed internet services, faster, more reliable and cheaper telecom services for the public. It will potentially facilitate foreign investment and employment jobs opportunities especially to Africans.

The business mogul also had a foray into banking with the establishment of Equatorial Trust Bank (ETB). This is a commercial bank that serves as large financial service provider in Nigeria, the bank was established in 1990, as a limited liability company. In Feb the same year, it was granted a commercial banking license and in march 1990, it commenced operations. As of January 2011, the bank maintained about one hundred retail branches in various urban centers in the country. In 2006, ETB successfully merged with the former Devcom bank.

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. 

In recognition of his entrepreneurial prowess, Adenuga was honored by the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the National Awards of the Officer of the Order of Niger (OON) and later, commander of the order of the Niger (CON). 

Being one of the world’s wealthiest men, Dr Mike Adenuga controls the continent’s largest business empires which comprises of  oil and gas, telecoms, aviation, banking, and real estates.

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