Dr. Mike Adenuga: The Quintessential African Entrepreneur as a Study in Diligence, Excellence

Call Dr. Mike Adeniyi Ishola Adenuga Jr. (GCON), the quintessential African Entrepreneur and you won’t be wrong. The Chairman of the Mike Adenuga Group, spanning oil and gas, telecommunications, aviation, construction, banking and real estate, who would soon clock 71 on April 29, has been a consistent  study in Diligence, Philanthropy and Entrepreneurial Excellence. Known for his passion and commitment to engendering prosperity for Africa, his consistency in investing on the continent is also legendary. Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that having etched his name in gold with his business empire, the dividends continue to echo through his greatest assets- the thousands of people he mentored and nurtured over the years 

Born on April 28, 1953, in the ancient city of Ibadan, into the family of Chief Mike Adenuga Snr. and Madam Oyindamola Adenuga, a successful trader and Yeyeoba of Ijebuland, Dr. Mike Adeniyi Ishola Adenuga Jr. (GCON), Nigeria’s quintessential African Entrepreneur’s life is a story for the books. 

His years of excellence began with his attendance of the famous Ibadan Grammar School, in Oyo State, Nigeria, for his secondary education. He would study Business Administration at Northwestern State University, Alva Oklahoma, in the United States before he earned a Master’s degree at Pace University, New York, majoring in Business Administration with emphasis on Marketing, which perhaps explains his wit when it comes to building a formidable brand. 

Over the years, this quintessential African entrepreneur through extreme  commitment and resilience has etched his name in gold in business and investment on the African continent in key sectors spanning oil and gas, hospitality, telecoms, aviation, construction, banking and real estate.

With a remarkable net worth of $6.7bn in 2024 as estimated by Forbes, Adenuga, ranked at number 409 in the Forbes list and number two in Africa, which is beyond inspiring for someone that earned his first million at the age of 26 selling lace and distributing soft drinks.

Maintaining Lead in Oil and Gas Sector through Conoil Plc 

In the oil and gas sector, for instance, Conoil Plc is one of the largest and most profitable oil marketing companies in Nigeria.  

Even though 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, that has not made them relax their oars, rather under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Adenuga, has spurred them to greater heights. 

Operating six highly prospective blocks in the Niger Delta and producing about 20,000 barrels of oil daily, the company boasts over 27 years of experience and currently holds a substantial oil reserve running into millions of barrels and trillion cubic feet of gas.

Revolutionising the Telecommunications Industry through Globacom 

In the telecommunications industry, Dr. Adenuga (Jnr.) is exactly what he has been described to be- a revolutionary, having introduced so many earth-cutting and innovative solutions to Nigeria and the continent at large through Globacom, a digital solutions provider.

In fact, under his guidance, Globacom has been one of the most innovative networks in Africa and has operations in Nigeria and Ghana with footprints in Senegal, Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire.

In 2010, he made history when his telecoms firm commissioned its solely-financed international submarine cable, Glo 1 and has over the years provided a solution to the long-standing problem of insufficient internet bandwidth for Africa and has led to a much faster and robust connectivity for voice, data and video. 

The company is the only operator with a wholly owned submarine cable, Glo 1, which connects West Africa directly to the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. It also connects 12 nations in the West Africa sub-region, including some of them that are landlocked.

He is also credited with playing a major role in the telecom revolution in Nigeria as Globacom’s historic introduction of Per Second Billing and crashing of SIM cost from over N50,000 to as low as N100, which led to the massive telephone penetration in Nigeria, thus contributing to the over 165m active  telephone lines in Nigeria today.

The network also pioneered such revolutionary products as Blackberry Services, Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), Magic Plus, Glo Direct, International MMS, Inflight Roaming, Prepaid Roaming, Glo Mobile Internet, GloFleetmanager, Mobile Banking, Glo Mobile Office, Glo TV,  Glo Cloud, Glo Always On, and Glo Berekete, amongst others.

Currently, Globacom is currently embarking on laying Glo 2, the first submarine cable in Nigeria to terminate outside Lagos, which would take bandwidth beyond Lagos to other parts of the country, especially the oil platforms to enable “Digital Oilfields” and empower under-served communities in the South-south and South-east.


In banking, he also wielded his magic wand through Equitorial Trust Bank (ETB), which was one of the few banks that effortlessly met the N25billion 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 Dr. Adenuga.

 Few years back, ETB merged with Sterling Bank and is still waxing strong. His ownership in Sterling Financial Holding has made the company listed on the Nigerian Exchange. Currently, Sterling operates two key subsidiaries: Sterling Bank PLC, a commercial banking service provider, and Alternative Bank Limited, a pioneering Non-Interest Banking (NIB) business.

Building Multi-Billion Dollar Investment in Real Estate 

Adenuga also has a multi-billion dollar investment in real estate. Through Cobble-Stone Properties & Estates Limited, Adenuga’s property development and marketing company has played a vital role in shaping Nigeria’s real estate industry.

With a portfolio of over 200 landmark buildings comprising residential, commercial, and mixed-use properties, including the recent Ilé Ọjà development, his real estate company is a reflection of his vision to transform urban landscapes.

Transforming Lives through Employment of Labour

What Dr. Adenuga has done with these companies, while commendable, cannot measure up with his biggest and perhaps most important feat so far- which is transforming the lives of thousands that work for these companies. 

What these companies and investments he berthed have done is provide direct employment to thousands of Nigerians and people from the international community, as well as millions of other indirect employment.

Earlier this year, this reporter was opportune to witness the joy and excitement of these staff as they were wined and feted at the End of the Year Soiree held at Eko Hotel and Suites to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the digital solutions company, Globacom. 

Hundreds of these employees from the Globacom brand were flown in and lodged to be appreciated for their dedication to duty. Millions were won and others celebrated for having worked for two decades for the company, but what stood out was the pride and the feeling of ownership the brand had bestowed on its staff-from the low to highest level, a legacy his daughter, Bella Disu has sustained.

Incomparable Support for Football in Africa 

In terms of support for sports, Dr. Adenuga Jr., through his company, 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 for several years.

It’s on record that the company spent over N15 billion in cash and kind on Nigerian football. It also transformed the annual CAF Awards and made it the most glamorous sports event on the continent. It was not surprising that CAF awarded Adenuga the Pillar of Football in Africa for his strong support for African Football at both national and continental levels. 

National and Global Laurels 

With all he has accomplished and is still accomplishing, it’s not surprising that each of his business ventures and investments in different sectors, play leadership roles by setting the pace and contributing to the growth of the Nigerian economy and the continent at large. 

In recognition of his business accomplishments and outstanding contributions to the growth of the country, he was awarded the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

 He also holds honorary doctorate degrees conferred on him by the University of Ibadan and the Ogun State University. 

During Nigeria’s 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.

Business-wise, his accomplishments have continued to seek him out for national and global accolades. In Ghana, he was given the highest national award, “The Companion of the Star of Ghana” in 2016.

In 2017, he was honoured by the French government with the award of the “Chevalier la Legion d’Honnuer”  and in July 2018, the French President, Emmanuel Macron, elevated him to ‘Commander of the Legion of Honour’, France’s highest national honour. 

Expectedly, Dr. Adenuga has won numerous other 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 by THISDAY, Nigeria’s most influential newspaper.

In 2009, Dr. Adenuga won the coveted Silverbird Man of the Year Award, polling over 75 per cent of the votes cast to beat other eminent personalities nominated for the same award. Similarly, several other media organisations, Sun Newspapers, Independent Newspapers, Leadership 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 2020, THISDAY named him Entrepreneur of the Decade at its Silver Jubilee celebration, while Nigeria’s oldest private newspaper, Tribune, awarded him Nigeria’s Most Outstanding and Innovative Entrepreneur at its 70th anniversary event.

As he clocks 71, on April 29, this year, the Otunba Apesin of the Ijebu clan, would as usual be celebrated for his business acumen, excellent spirit, entrepreneurial drive and philanthropic nature but for most people, its his ability to transform the lives of his employees and those who come in contact with him, that counts the most.  


With all he has accomplished and is still accomplishing, it’s not surprising that each of his business ventures and investments in different sectors, play leadership roles by setting the pace and contributing to the growth of the Nigerian economy and the continent at large

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