Creating a Multi-Billion Rand Cellular Industry
In a spontaneous tribute, the entire audience listening to Vodacom’s annual financial results in June 2008 rose to its feet to acknowledge the man regarded as the father of cellular in Africa and the architect of a multi-billion rand industry – a standing ovation that left retiring CEO of Vodacom, Alan Knott-Craig, momentarily speechless.
A maverick civil servant from the government telephone operator, Telkom, Alan masterfully steered a fledgling cellular company to unparalleled financial success, shaping a revolutionary concept into one of the most powerful brands in southern Africa – Vodacom. On Alan’s retirement in 2008, Vodacom, valued at R150 billion, had realised fourteen consecutive years of double-digit growth, an operating profit for that year of R12.5 billion, an income of R48 billion and 33 million customers in five African countries. It was an exceptional achievement for a man whose priority was not to build a financial empire, but to empower people through communication.
Second is Nothing tells the story of Alan Knott-Craig, moving from his unique childhood challenges to his incredible journey to bring cellular to Africa – continually motivated by his father’s words, ‘First is first and second is nothing’. Bold and courageous – sometimes outrageous – Alan’s visionary leadership, foresight and persistence put Vodacom and South Africa on the map of world firsts, ultimately making his dream of a connected Africa come true. But it was a dream for which he came close to paying the ultimate price.
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