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African Millionaire of the Week: Sam E Jonah


Dr. Samuel Esson Jonah, Mining Engineer, International Chief Executive, Diplomat, Management Consultant, Advisor, Entrepreneur, Educationist, Role Model and Administrator.

For several decades, your name has become synonymous with gold mining. You are a native of Assin Kushea in the Central Region of Ghana but you were born at Obuasi in the Ashanti Region on November 19, 1949.

After completing your secondary education at Adisadel College, you joined the Ashanti Goldfields Company (AGC) at Obuasi in 1969. You later attended the prestigious Camborne School of Mines where you successfully completed the Associateship in Mining Engineering (ACSM) in 1973.

You subsequently obtained a Masters of Science Degree in Mine Management from the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London and rejoined Ashanti Gold Fields Company in 1979. By dint of hard work and managerial competence, you rose from Shift Boss to (Mine Captain, Underground Manager, Senior Manager) General Manager. Finally at the youthful age of 36, you were given the top job of Chief Executive in recognition of your distinguished performance.

Under your able and dynamic leadership, AGC has seen phenomenal growth and evolved into a global industrial giant as the eighth largest gold producer with three mines in Ghana and the largest gold mines in Tanzania, Guinea and Zimbabwe. AGC also operates the world’s largest bi-oxidation plant for the treatment of sulphide ores at its Obuasi mine and has exploration interest in 7 African countries.

Thanks to your holistic and humane attitude to the development of the mining industry, and in fulfilment of Ashanti’s social responsibility, you instituted major changes to cement the relationship between AGC and the local community, for example, by providing water, electricity, housing and sporting facilities, thereby making Obuasi the Mecca for mining officials and Ministers from other African countries who wish to replicate such developments in their own countries. This is a concrete manifestation of your concern for others.

In addition to your responsibility for the management of the enlarged AGC, you are also a Director of Lonmin plc, the Commonwealth Africa Investment Fund (COMAFIN) and Ecobank Transnational Investment.

Your contribution to education is reflected in your membership of the Governing Body of the School of Oriental and African Studies, the Trust of the Camborne School of Mines of the Exeter University and the African Regional Advisory Board of the London Business School and your present association with the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

You have received many honours from diverse institutions on account of your outstanding leadership, business acumen and excellence.

You have been decorated with several awards and honours, among them the honorary Doctor of Science (D.Sc) degree awarded jointly by the Camborne School of Mines and the University of Exeter (UK). In 2003, Her majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain & Northern Ireland and Head of the Commonwealth conferred on you, an honorary knighthood as Knight Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE). The award was in recognition of your exceptional achievements as an African businessman, a leading business executive from the Commonwealth and an international figure.

In July, 2001, you were unanimously nominated for the position of Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast by the Academic Board of the University, in recognition of your contribution to education and on account of your outstanding business and managerial acumen, as well as your international exposure. Your nomination was accepted by the University Council in August 2001 and duly installed you as Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast.

In December 2004, CNN/Time named you as one of the 25 Business Influentials setting global standards for management, ethics, marketing and innovation. In 2004, the Mining Journal conferred on you the Industry’s Life Time Achievement Award. You have in the past three months been appointed a Trustee to the Nelson Mandela legacy Trust (UK).

Currently, you serve on various Boards including Anglo American Corporation of South Africa, Transnet, Amplats and the African Regional Advisory Board of the London Business School, having previously served as a member of the Governing Body of the School of Oriental and African Studies and a Trustee of the Camborne School of Mines.

You serve on the International Investment Advisory Councils of African Presidents: President J.A. Kuffuor of Ghana, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria.

Dr. Sir, Samuel Esson Jonah, for your excellent and illustrious career as a Mining Engineer, Chief Executive, Director, Management Consultant, Diplomat, Educationist and Administrator, Ashesi University College through its affiliate University in Ghana, University of Cape Coast, is proud to honour you with the degree Doctor of Humanities.

Sam E Jonah elected to Vodafone board

Vodafone has underlined its ambitions in Africa by naming Sam Jonah, one of the biggest names in African business, as a non-executive director.The Ghanaian-born Mr Jonah, who was awarded an honorary knighthood in 2003, will join the board on Wednesday.

Vodafone described Mr Jonah, 59, as one of Africa’s leading businessmen. Educated at Imperial College in London, he is best known for his career at Ashanti, the miner, which he built over three decades into one of the world’s top operators.

He started his working life with Lonrho, the late ‘Tiny’ Rowland’s conglomerate, which bought Ashanti for £3 million in 1968. Spotted by the tycoon as a promising manager, he was sent to Camborne School of Mines in Cornwall to learn more about the business, working his way up to become managing director at the age of 36.

Serving as chief executive of Ashanti from 1986, he stepped down as president four years ago after organising a $1 billion merger with AngloGold, the South African miner, in 2003. Since then he has set up his own South Africa-based investment company, Jonah Capital, as well as acting as an adviser to presidents in Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria and Zambia.

Sir John Bond, Vodafone’s chairman, said that Mr Jonah would bring extensive experience of business in Africa, particularly South Africa and Ghana, where Vodafone has made big investments. The company took full control of Vodacom, South Africa’s No1 mobile phone operator, last October, when it paid Telcom South Africa £1.46 billion for its 15 per cent stake — taking its total holding to 65 per cent.

The unit is expected to lead a more aggressive expansion by Vodafone into other African markets, where it has been eclipsed by MTN, another South African company. Apart from South Africa, Vodacom also has strong market positions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania

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