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Tonye Cole 'How we built Sahara Group in 20 years,' oil and gas mogul reveals

Tonye Cole has revealed the humble beginnings of Sahara Group as the company nears its 20th-anniversary celebration.

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The Group Executive Director of Sahara Group, Tonye Cole has revealed how he alongside his friends and partners,  Tope Shonubi and Ade Odunsi, built the energy conglomerate over 20years.

As the energy conglomerate celebrate its 20th anniversary on August 23, 2016, Cole revealed the humble beginning of the institution that has become globally renowned with operations and assets in Utilities, Farming, Infrastructure Development and Real Estate spanning across Nigeria, Cote D'Ivoire, Ghana, Benin Republic, United Kingdom, Singapore, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Angola.

Tope Sonubi play

Tope Sonubi



He said: “I remember back then in our days of little beginnings, we made complimentary cards without titles, it just had our names and address. We were burning with ideas for change and ‘showing off titles’ wasn’t on our front burner. We just wanted to be success stories and we were ready to pay the price through hard work and positive impact.”

ALSO READ: "How I built an empire," Tonye Cole

When Sahara Group started out as Sahara Energy Resources Limited in August 1996, it was a business idea that was poised to fill a gap in the oil sector and lay a foundation for an enduring and profitable venture in the sector.

Speaking further, Cole said, “Starting up, we came up with ideas that the older generation might not have had an idea of as at then. We brought in newness and freshness, it was a field that was then dominated by foreigners and we were young but focused on what we wanted to achieve. We dared to tread on uncommon grounds and today we look back and are grateful for how far God has brought us.”

Ade Odunsi play

Ade Odunsi

(Ashrami Energy)


And 20 years after, the energy group has not only filled the gap but also expanded to become a conglomerate that deals in oil exploration and production; crude oil trading; aviation supply; storage and warehousing and energy.

One thing that has remained an intrigue in the success story of the founders of the Sahara Group is the bond that has kept the trio's partnership a global benefit.

For 20 years, the trio of Tonye Cole, Tope Shonubi and Ade Odunsi have managed to successfully manage and sustain their partnership without a partner moving to move on with some parts of the business empire or another threatening with litigation to get his piece of the conglomerate's vast assets or another itching to turn the table upside down and destroy their years of toil, grits and gains.

To this end, Bethel Obioma,  Head, Corporate Communications, Sahara Group said, "The Sahara Group is passionate about becoming a practice model for other organisations and this can be seen from the relationship among the heads to the module of business. We believe in providing platforms for individuals, businesses and nations to pursue and realise their ambitions."

Obioma also disclosed that the trio running the Sahara Group have a strategy that really works in many regards in keeping business and partnership alive and this is evident in the conglomerate's envious growth from a Nigerian company to a global conglomerate.

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