Eric Kwame profiles five of Ghana’s most influential business leaders.
Dr Samuel Esson Jonah is the chairman of Jonah Capital, a private equity fund with interests in mining across the African continent. Prior to setting up Jonah Capital, Dr Jonah was the CEO of Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, now Anglogold Ashanti.
Jonah had his high school education at Adisadel College in Cape Coast, Ghana and went on to earn degrees from Camborne School of Mines in Cornwall, England and in Mine Management at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London.
He joined Ashanti Goldfields Corporation in 1979, working in various capacities, including underground operations. He is known to be the only person to rise from the operations section of the mining giant to executive level. At the age of 36, he became the CEO, in which position he supervised the transformation of Ashanti Goldfields into a mining multinational, increased gold production from 240,000 ounces per annum to over 1.6m ounces in over 10 years, and oversaw the company’s listing as the first operating African company on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 2009 he became a non-executive director of Vodafone. Currently, he is the Executive Chairman of Jonah Capital Equity Fund. Jonah chairs the boards of Equator Exploration Ltd, Scharrig Mining, Equinox Minerals, Uramin, Moto Goldmines Ltd and Range Resources Ltd. He also serves on various boards including Transnet, Mittal Steel SA, Ashesi University, Standard Bank of South Africa, Lonmin and the Commonwealth African Investment Fund (Comafin).
Jonah is committed to the cause of education in Ghana and Africa and is the Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. His alma mater, Adisadel College, has also named a hall of residence after him in recognition of his relentless efforts in aid of the school’s improvement.
Jonah Capital, which he set up after he resigned from his position at Anglogold, is mainly devoted to the mining industry and has built up an impressive portfolio of investments across in at least eight countries in Africa.
Some of the firms in which Jonah Capital has interests include Indongo Mining Ltd in Zambia; Iron Mineral Beneficiation Services in South Africa; Gulf Industrials Ltd which operates in Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar; Peruke Investment Holdings (Pty) Ltd in South Africa; Cavalla Resources Limited in Liberia; African Energy Mauritius Ltd in Botswana; and International Iron Beneficiation Group Ltd, which operates globally.
A respected voice in Africa, he served on the Advisory Council of the UN Secretary General’s Global Compact, former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s International Investment Advisory Council on Nigeria, former President Thabo Mbeki’s International Investment Advisory Council of South Africa, and former President John Kufuor’s Ghana Investors’ Advisory Council. In addition to his directorships, Dr Jonah is a member of the Advisory Board of the London Business School.
In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain conferred on him an Honorary Knighthood as Knight Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE). He is venerated in Ghana and beyond for his leadership in business and entrepreneurship, his philanthropy and is an in-demand speaker at various conferences and events. He is married with four children.