Home » Meet Bella Disu: Nigerian business executive leading one of Africa’s largest telecom companies

Meet Bella Disu: Nigerian business executive leading one of Africa’s largest telecom companies

by Omokolade Ajayi
Bella Disu

Key Points:

    • As executive vice chairperson, Bella Disu has propelled Globacom to become Nigeria’s top digital services provider, driving strategic growth and innovation.

    • Beyond telecoms, she helms Cobblestone Properties (iconic landmarks) and chairs Abumet Nigeria (glass & aluminum manufacturing).

    • Disu advocates for women’s empowerment through the SheGlows Program and her foundation. Recognized as a shaper of Africa’s future, she’s a leader both in boardrooms and social impact initiatives.

Proving further the genius gene of the Nigerian billionaire Adenuga family, 37-year-old business executive Bella Disu (born Belinda Ajoke Olubunmi Adenuga) has cemented her position in the African telecom industry and beyond.

Following in the footsteps of her father, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr., who presently ranks as Africa’s fifth richest billionaire with a $6.7-billion fortune, she has elevated the family’s multibillion-dollar business empire—spanning telecoms, property development, manufacturing, and construction—to new heights, securing a top spot among Africa’s most influential business executives.

Transforming Globacom as executive vice-chairperson

Armed with a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and an M.Sc. in Leadership from Northeastern University, Bella Disu joined Nigeria’s second-largest telecommunications group, Globacom Limited, in 2004. Since then, she has played a key role in the company’s expansion, steadily stepping into her father’s giant shoes and making a significant impact as Globacom’s executive vice chairperson.

Her expertise in contract negotiation and project management has driven the successful execution of significant projects. One notable achievement is the development of the Alliance Française Mike Adenuga Centre, a cultural hub commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2018. Inspired by this project, Bella became fluent in French within months.

“At the time, I didn’t speak a lick of French,” Bella said at the 2019 Africa CEO Forum in Kigali. “When President Macron left, I thought, ‘Now you’re the face of this project. You’ll be a fraud if you don’t speak French.’ From August to November, I learned French fluently.”

Bella Disu steers Globacom to dominance in Nigeria’s digital services industry

Under Bella Disu’s leadership, Globacom has positioned itself as Nigeria’s largest provider of digital services. She has been instrumental in growing the company’s strategic business units, including Glo Mobile, Glo Broad Access, and Glo Gateway.

During her early years at Globacom, she witnessed the company become the first to build an $800 million high-capacity fibre-optic cable, Glo-1, from the UK to Nigeria. The resilience of Glo-1 was highlighted recently when it remained operational despite widespread internet disruptions in Nigeria.

With her contributions to Globacom’s growth, Bella, a passionate arts patron, author, and philanthropist, has established herself as a leading business executive. She advocates for women to have a stronger voice in the workplace and beyond, contributing her transformative vision to corporate boards and steering organizations toward increased productivity and profitability.

Earlier this month, during the launch of Nigeria’s Digital Economy Report at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, she outlined Globacom’s strategy to support technological growth in Nigeria. She announced the launch of four digital innovation hubs in key cities across the country.

Multifaceted leadership in telecoms, real estate, and manufacturing

Bella Disu is a multifaceted leader with a strong presence across various sectors in Nigeria. In addition to her role at Globacom, she holds the CEO position at Cobblestone Properties and Estates, a renowned property development company.

Cobblestone boasts a comprehensive portfolio of residential and commercial properties, including iconic landmarks like Bella’s Place (a seven-story office complex), The Mall, Ile-Oja at Opebi (Ikeja), Sisi Paris, Ilé-Ọjà Victoria Island (a premium retail mall), and Probyn, an exquisite terrace apartment complex.

Disu’s leadership extends beyond real estate.  She serves as Chairman of Abumet Nigeria, an innovative glass and aluminum manufacturing company, and holds a Non-Executive Director position at Julius Berger Nigeria Plc. Notably, her contributions at Julius Berger are credited with significantly influencing the company’s diversification into the agro-allied industry, leading to a substantial profit surge in 2023 and the first quarter of 2024.

Bella Disu: Empowering women, transforming Africa

Disu’s commitment extends to social impact. Recognized for her contributions across various sectors, she was featured in the prestigious Choiseul 100 Africa ranking in 2022 and 2023, acknowledged as a key figure shaping the continent’s economic development.

As founder and chairperson of the Bella Disu Foundation, she drives programs in education, health, and disaster relief, aiming to improve socio-economic conditions in underserved communities. Furthering her commitment to women’s empowerment, she launched the SheGlows Program in 2024 to nurture female leaders at Globacom and foster a supportive ecosystem for women’s professional growth.

Reflecting on her early career, Bella said: “When I started off at 18, one of my struggles was that I looked around me and didn’t see many young women like me who were high up in organizations… I wished that I had seen a woman in my position who could groom me and inspire me. Representation goes a long way. Now, I’d like us to pass on the message that balance is not just a hashtag.”

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