Ahmad Farroukh — the seasoned executive who heads Smile Telecoms as CEO
Ahmad Farroukh is the CEO of Smile communications, a telecoms company with operations in Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and majorly in Nigeria.
The former Executive Director Operations was promoted to the post in June 2019, and has had remarkable stays at many telecom companies in different countries. His appointment to the coveted position, according to Smile telecoms, is predicated upon his distinguished records of operational successes in the TMT industry.
Smile Communications provides mobile broadband, voice calls, video calls and SMS services to select cities in the countries it has its operations in. The Mauritius-based telecom firm claims of being one of the largest sub-1 GHz 4G LTE commercial networks in Africa, operating in the low 800 MHz band.
Smile telecoms Nigeria
As of May 2020, the number of subscribers on the Smile network in Nigeria is 336,208. The Nigerian operations of the Group witnessed losses in subscribers from July 2019 down till November that year. However, their subscribers numbers are still on a year-on increase.
The Nigerian market seems a valuable one for the broadband operator, as such, much emphasis is laid to it. Making a debut to the biggest black-owned economy in March 2014, a year after debuts in Tanzania and Uganda, one notable discourse about the telco is its leadership.
From October 2014 to September 2016, Michiel Buitelaar lead the firm as managing director of its Nigerian operations. This was followed by a former Airtel Nigeria’s Chief of Sales officer, Godfrey Efeurhobo, who took leadership from June 2016 till July 2019. From July 2019, after Efeurhobo returned to Airtel, no substantive managing director was announced by Smile for its Nigerian operations.
However, various media outlets and newspapers did address Akin Alayoku, the present Chief Technical Officer of Smile Communications Nigeria LTD, as its acting managing director. This wasn’t affirmed by the company in any of its news publications, neither was there any mention of a substantive managing director for its Nigerian operations. In addition, most of Alayoku’s profiles online still reads his recognized position as CTO of Smile Communications Nigeria LTD.
Ahmad Farroukh spends most of his executive time in Nigeria
While announcing the appointment of Ahmad Farroukh as group CEO, Smile telecoms detailed that the gaffer would spend the majority of his executive time in Nigeria given the extent of the opportunity and the significance of its operations there to Smile.
This singular act by the telecom firm leaves less to dead-reckoning on who truly mans their Nigerian operations, although leaving much cause to believe that Farroukh heads the Nigerian subsidiary of the telecom firm for the meantime.
Meanwhile, long-standing CEO and founder, Irene Charnley recedes to being the group’s deputy chairman. The widely respected social entrepreneur founded Smile Telecoms Holdings Limited in 2007 after lengthy experiences in the telecom industry.
The South African worked for MTN Group as Commercial Director of Strategic Investments. She later switched to being Executive Director for the group from August 1, 2001 till June 13, 2006, exerting her leadership prowess to birth a reputable firm in the Europe, the Middle East and Africa telecom market.
Other firms where she wielded her technical ingenuity includes Johnnic Communications Ltd, and ElementOne Limited.
Ahmad Farroukh — The profile
Early life and Education
Ahmad Farroukh is a citizen of Lebanon. And although records nor declarations haven’t affirmed, he is presumed to have spent ample years of his childhood in the Asian country.
Like many of his fellow managers in the telecom industry, his parental background, family, and marital relationship is distanced from the public. However, his discretion to publicity couldn’t prevent a dig-up of which country the telecom boss hails from. Even if his country of origin wasn’t fetched out, as we did, or wasn’t at the slightest known, his surname “Farroukh” would have given away this privy of his. The name has its roots to Lebanon — it’s one of Lebanese historic names.
Ahmad’s high school and college education is also sheltered. And what we do know is that Ahmad Farroukh holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and Accounting from the Lebanese American University.
Aside being a certified public Accountant, Farroukh is member to several high profile professional bodies which includes the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the New York State Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Lebanese Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Ahmad Farroukh Career
Farroukh’s prominent telecom career started with MTN Group Limited in March 2011, where he served as the Group’s Vice President of West and Central Africa (WECA) Region until August 2014. Additionally, he served as the Group Chief Operating Executive between April 1, 2012 and August 2014.
Still at MTN, Farroukh served as the Chief Executive Officer of the South African operations of the Group between August 2014 until July 2015.
On July 12, 2015, the Lebanese gaffer jumped ship to Etihad Etisalat Company (labelled Mobily for its GSM mobile services). Mobily is a Saudi Arabia-based telecommunications operator founded in 2004. UAE telecom firm Etisalat, which was the former owner of the defunct Etisalat Nigeria, owns a 26.25 percent stake in the firm. He served as Chief Executive Officer of the company
Farroukh’s other career experiences includes service at Mediterranean Investor Group, KPMG, Deloitte & Touche, as well as being Managing Director of Scancom Ltd.
Mr Farroukh is said to have once lectured Accounting at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.
Ahmad Farroukh and Smile Telecoms
Farroukh has been with Smile Telecoms Holdings Limited since May 1, 2017 as an Executive Director of Operations.
On June 1, 2019, he was elevated to the post of Group Chief Executive Officer. One of his notable deeds as GCEO was a negotiation with Nigerian cable providers, MainOne and Globacom for the temporary engagement of their broadband cables when the West African Cable System (WACS) and SAT3 cables were ruptured in February.
Smile’s Co-Chairman and Group CEO of Smile’s majority shareholder, Al Nahla Group of KSA, while admitting the dynamic and challenging trail of the African telecoms market said Ahmad is suited to lead Smile’s next exciting phase of growth.