Morehouse College, an all-male institution and one of America’s oldest historically black colleges, awarded Zimbabwean telecom tycoon Strive Masiyiwa an honorary doctorate in recognition for his philanthropic and humanitarian work across the African continent.
Masiyiwa (51) was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters during the college’s 128th commencement ceremony, which was held on May 20 at the college’s Century Campus in Atlanta, Georgia. Masiyiwa was awarded an honorary degree alongside popular syndicated radio host Tom Joyner and American billionaire S. Truett Cathy, founder and chairman of fast food chicken restaurant chain Chick-fil-A.
Reading Masiyiwa’s citation during the conferment of the honorary degree, president of Morehouse College Dr Robert Michael Franklin ,said of the Zimbabwean businessman: “As an entrepreneur you have excelled in establishing a stellar example of principled leadership. As a visionary you have gained international prominence for opening the African telecommunications sector to private capital. You fought against the government to dismantle a monopoly paving the way for free enterprise, and you have shared your resources for philanthropic purposes. Not only do you fund one of Africa’s largest orphanages, but also you’ve played an integral in alleviating poverty that worsened during economic reform in your native country Zimbabwe.”
Two decades ago, Masiyiwa famously fought the Zimbabwean government in a five-year legal battle challenging the latter’s monopoly on wireless communications in the Southern African country.
Masiyiwa subsequently became the first person in the world to be granted a mobile telecoms licence by a court of law rather than the government, and he went on to build Econet Wireless, a leading Pan-African mobile telecoms company with operations across Africa, UK and New Zealand. Through his independent holding company, TS Masiyiwa Holdings, Masiyiwa also owns significant interests in financial services, tourism, alternative energy and infrastructure across Africa.
His controlling stake in Econet Wireless has made him Zimbabwe’s richest man, worth at least $280 million. He ranked number 34 on Forbes’ list of Africa’s 40 Richest, published in November 2011. Masiyiwa is known to devote a percentage of his annual income towards philanthropy.
He and his wife, Tsitsi Masiyiwa, founded and currently fund the Capernaum Trust, a Zimbabwe-registered Christian charity that sponsors scholarships and medical assistance for over 28000 orphaned Zimbabwean children. Masiyiwa also recently pledged to sponsor 10 South African students to study at Morehouse College.