Segun Ogunsanya – The witted CEO of Airtel Nigeria

Segun Ogunsanya is the only Nigerian CEO of a major telecom company in the country aside Glo’s Mike Adenuga. He dictates the affairs of Airtel Nigeria, a division of Airtel Africa.

The root company of Airtel Africa is Bharti Airtel founded by India’s Sunil Mittal. Airtel Nigeria has suffered multiple name changes, majorly due to ownership crisis, since it’s descend into the Nigerian telecom scene in 2001 as Econet.

Although with MTN Nigeria as a major operator and sole rival then, it became the first telecommunications service provider to launch commercial GSM services in Nigeria.

This was on 5th August, 2001.

Early 2004, Econet metamorphosed into Vodacom. And in that same year, the telecom network provider became Vee Networks with the network labelled Vmobile. These two successive brand relabelling followed change in ownership and management.

Vodacom, a south african firm had puportedly pulled out of the telecom firm’s whole acquisition quickly due to hints of surreptitious takeover deals.

Again in May 2006, Celtel took possesion of Vmobile. Celtel was purported owned by Dr. Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese telecommunications Engineer, who worked in British Telecoms then. The acquisition train continued in 2008 when Zain Group bought Celtel’s international shares of over $3 billion. This acquisition resulted in the rebranding of all operations of Celtel Africa from Celtel to Zain.

In 2010, Bharti Airtel bought the Bahrain’s Group’s Africa business for a staggering $10.7 billion price. Subsequently, we take a cursory look at the life story of Airtel Nigeria’s long-serving Chief executive officer, Segun Ogunsanya.

Segun Ogunsanya – The Profile

Segun Ogunsanya

NameSegun Ogunsanya
Date of birth4th June 1966
  • Electrical & Electronics Engineering at University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife)
  • He’s a chartered accountant
  • + various professional and marketing courses
  • Arthur Andersen & Company – Tax and Business Advisory Division (1988).
  • The Coca-Cola Company in Nigeria – Head of Treasury (1994).
  • The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Ghana – Finance Director, (1998).
  • General manager and chief executive of Coca-Cola Ghana (1999).
  • Managing director and head of retail banking operations of Ecobank Transnational Inc. (2008 to 2009).
  • Chief executive officer of Coca-Cola Sabco, Kenya (2010).
  • Managing director at Nigerian Bottling Company Plc (September 1, 2011, to December 2012).
  • CEO of the Nigerian operation of Bharti Airtel [Airtel Nigeria] (November 26, 2012 till present).
WifeRonke Ogunsanya

Segun Ogunsanya – The beggining

Regrettably, Segun Ogunsanya’s childhood information is reserved back from public glare. The management guru was born on the 4th day of June 1966. His birthplace and place of origin is yet to be disclosed by him, however, permutations suggests he was brought up in Ife, south western Nigeria.

Many who have met and worked with Segun have relayed how resilent and work-efficient he is, giving a splinter of an insight about how his uncovered childhood life might have been. To be hypothetical for a while, we envisage young Segun to had been a visionary unassuming lad, with a little sparkle of managerial peculiarity.

Segun Ogunsanya Education

Like his early life, most of Ogunsanya’s education is kept private. The institution of his primary and secondary education in addition to most of the institutions of his managerial and accounting studies hasn’t been disclosed.

However, we know he has some managerial certificates to his name through studies in the country and abroad. And as stated earlier, the CEO is a graduate of Electrical & Electronics Engineering, in the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife).

Mr Ogunsanya is an Engineer, however, he left the profession for management. He is a Chartered Accountant as well.

Ogunsanya’s career with Coca-Cola

Mr Segun Ogunsanya’s known career life began with the Tax and Business Advisory Division of Arthur Andersen & Company in 1988. He left the company in 1994 to The Coca-Cola Company, Nigeria, as Head of Treasury. This was the second known job the man had. From there he served at the Company’s Corporate office in Atlanta, United States on a short-term assignment.

The Airtel CEO & MD looking determined

Still with the Coca-Cola company but now in Ghana, Ogunsanya in 1998, served as Finance Director. In 1999, a year after his spell as financial director, he was promoted to General Manager and Chief Executive of the Ghana outfit. His responsibility at the firm was doubled in 2004 when he was appointed the Deputy Region Manager for the Equatorial West Africa Countries – overseeing three countries. His leadership quality in Ghana reflected in the company’s revenue and size. During his tenure as CEO, Coca-Cola Ghana recorded a tripled profit in five years while it’s size was doubled. Market shares and distribution improved significantly.

He took a breather from Coca-Cola in 2008 and 2009. From consumate management, he left to banking as the Managing Director of the Retail Banking Division of Ecobank Transnational INC covering 28 countries in Africa. In January 2010, Mr Ogunsanya made a return to the Coca-Cola. This time as Chief Executive Officer of Coca-Cola Sabco in Kenya. He continued an enviable leadership with the Kenyan firm and recorded impressive growth in revenue and other key business metrics. As head of the firm, Coca-Cola Kenya won the Kenyan Institute of Management’s “Company of the Year Award for Financial Excellence”. The “Coca-Cola Gold Award in Quality” was also inferred on the company.

With Nigerian Bottling Company

In 2011, he was appointed as the first Nigerian Managing Director/CEO of Coca- Cola’s bottling operations in Nigeria at Nigerian Bottling Company Limited. He served as CEO of the company from September 1, 2011, to December 2012.

Segun Ogunsanya’s career with Airtel

Mr. Ogunsanya debuted into telecoms in November 2012 as Airtel Nigeria CEO. As a manager par excellence, it didn’t take him long to create a reputation with the firm.

Two years as manager of the telecom firm, Ogunsanya’s excellence was rewarded with a Telecom CEO of The Year award at the Nigerian Telecoms Awards 2014. In 2017, he was also rewarded as the Best Telecoms CEO in Africa by the Africa Information Technology and Telecom Awards.

Airtel MD

He also got rewarded the following year by the Institute of Credit Administration (ICA) at its 2018 Nigeria Credit Industry Awards as the Credit Management Director of the Year.

Mr Ogunsanya is praised both from the industry and outside of it because of marketing strides and breath-taking initiatives. This show of utmost competence has projected Airtel Nigeria as a recognised firm in the country. Airtel Nigeria is considered the fastest 3G network in the country, as well as the first operator to debut 4G in the same country. His fellow workers at Airtel Nigeria credit him as one who relates with all members of his team – from those at the marketing department to the leading officers at the top with an unbiased interaction.

Wife and family

Segun Ogunsanya’s wife is Ronke Ogunsanya. Further details of the relationship isn’t known. The number of children, if any, and their descriptions is yet to be known.
Segun Ogunsanya with wife

Ogunsanya’s awards and credits

Aside being the longest serving Chief executive officer at Airtel Nigeria, Ogunsanya has many accolades to his coffers. He is a member of the Lagos Metropolitan Club, and a former Vice President of American Chambers of Commerce in Ghana. At a point in his career in Ghana, he represented the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Ghana in United Nations’ Global Compact Initiative.

His credits are:

  • Appointed a member of the Implementation and Technical Committee of Strategic Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Policy by the Federal Government of Nigeria (2012).
  • Appointed a member of the Business Support Group meant to provide a platform for anchoring the views of the organised Private Sector on the development of a National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan for the Federal Republic of Nigeria(2013).
  • Telecom CEO of The Year at the Nigerian Telecoms Awards(2014).
  • Awarded Best Telecoms CEO in Africa by the Africa Information Technology and Telecom Awards (2017).
  • Awarded Credit Management Director of the Year by the Institute of Credit Administration (ICA) (2018).
  • Named African CEO of the year by the Africa Information Technology & Telecom Awards, a pan-African platform that recognizes customer service, innovation and excellence in Africa’s Telecoms and Information Technology industry (2017).

Segun Ogunsanya has showcased his managerial ingenuity in his various posts of work. Consistent churn of growth out of ugly stands isn’t just an ordinary task. it’s a unique quality Segun has held sway to, in his 21 years of running big firms.

It wasn’t all rosy for the managerial guru, but he remained resilient and stayed relevant. He hopes to lead Airtel Nigeria toward becoming the best and unmatched telecom operator in the country.


A potential electrical/electronics engineer in the making, a phone addict and a motivating partner.While he's not researching through with his phone, Daniel spends his time with the books.★ Fav. quote: The habit of persistence is the habit of victory! ★

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