5 things to know about Alex Okosi, Google’s newly appointed Africa Managing Director on a mission to connect the next billion users

BY Preta Peace Namasaba September 7, 2023 8:34 PM EDT
Alex Okosi via LinkedIn

On September 7, 2023, Google announced the appointment of Alex Okosi, currently Managing Director for YouTube in EMEA Emerging Markets, as its new Managing Director for Africa.

In this role, Okosi is in charge of leading Google’s technological vision in Africa, propelling innovation and expanding digital accessibility across the continent, as well as strengthening and forging partnerships that trigger next-generation technologies. With offices in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, Google has been operating in Africa for over a decade, and its products and services are used by millions.

The Nigerian media and tech executive is a member of the Powerlist, the UK’s 100 most influential people of African heritage, and has been recognized as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

“Alex is a proven leader with a wealth of experience in the media and technology industries. He has a deep understanding of African countries and a passion for using technology to empower people and businesses,” said Meir Brand, Vice President, EMEA Emerging Markets at Google.

Here are 5 things to know about Alex Okosi:

1. Played College Basketball
At the age of 12, during a visit to his brothers in the US, Okosi made the life-changing decision to stay. He navigated his way through four different high schools before securing a scholarship to Phillips Exeter Academy. His academic journey continued with a full scholarship to play Division II basketball for Saint Michael’s College, where he successfully earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Economics. Over the course of his four-year college career, Okosi showcased his skills in 106 games, maintaining impressive averages of 4.2 points and 5.2 rebounds. His leadership abilities shone as he captained the Purple Knights to the 1997 NE-10 regular-season championship and secured an NCAA Tournament berth, in addition to claiming the 1996 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Tournament title.

2. Okosi brought MTV to Africa

Following his college graduation, Okosi embarked on a remarkable journey with Viacom that spanned over two decades. Serving as a manager for the international strategy and business development team in Viacom’s London office, Okosi initiated the formulation of a business plan in 2003 to introduce MTV to the African audience. After persistent efforts and multiple presentations to Viacom, MTV Base was officially launched in Africa just two years later. Over the subsequent years, Okosi dedicated himself to the task of discovering emerging talent, often frequenting clubs and musicians’ residences to impart his knowledge on creating high-quality music videos. Remarkably, despite projecting that MTV Base Africa would reach profitability in 36 months, it achieved this milestone in just 28 months.

3. Pioneered the MTV Africa Music Awards
Collaborating with Jandre Louw, Head of Events at MTV Networks Africa, and Dude Qubu, Head of Production, Okosi played a pivotal role in the inception of the MTV Africa Music Awards. Prior to this, African artists were incorporated into the 2006 and 2007 MTV Europe Music Awards, allowing African viewers to cast their votes for the Best African Artist category. The MTV Africa Music Awards, broadcast worldwide, showcased the talents of Anglophone, Lusophone, and Francophone artists, truly representing the diverse musical landscape of the entire continent

4. Introduced Lupita Nyong’o to the World
Isis Nyong’o, one of MTV Base’s earliest team members, had the privilege of introducing her cousin, Lupita Nyong’o, to Okosi. Lupita’s audition for Shuga, a prosocial and award-winning drama series, secured her the starring role, marking her debut in a major acting capacity, courtesy of Okosi’s MTV Base. Today, Lupita stands as an Academy Award winner and nominee for both Emmy and Tony Awards.

5. The Brainchild behind YouTube’s Black Voices Fund
In 2020, Okosi took on the role of Managing Director for EMEA Emerging Markets at YouTube. In this capacity, he spearheaded a strategy aimed at bolstering YouTube’s profitability within the region while also nurturing the success of creators. Of significant note is Okosi’s instrumental role in the conception and implementation of YouTube’s Black Voices Fund, a monumental $100 million commitment geared towards cultivating and elevating black creators and artists on the platform. During his tenure at YouTube, Okosi also played an active part in enhancing Google’s initiatives for racial equity, with a firm dedication to fostering meaningful and sustainable progress within the company.

“I am excited to share that I have been appointed as the new Managing Director, Africa, at Google.

My journey, which began in the vibrant world of media and entertainment, has now led me to the heart of the tech industry, from our YouTube to now, our Google Africa business and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

This transition represents more than just a change in job title; it’s a testament of my commitment to the future of Africa, to the untapped potential of its people, and the transformative and positive impact that technology will make on the continent.

From laying the groundwork for MTV Base & Viacom Africa, which became a catalyst for transforming African music and content to a global force, to my tenure as Managing Director, Emerging Markets, YouTube EMEA, where along with our teams we championed the growth of content creators and artists, I have witnessed firsthand the incredible impact of these industries on lives.

Google is a company that is synonymous with innovation, creativity, and the relentless pursuit of a better future. Our company’s mission to make technology universally accessible and useful resonates deeply with me. I am excited to work with our awesome Africa and global teams to continue leveraging our products to empower individuals and transform societies, especially on the African continent. 

This transition is exciting and would not be possible without the support of my dear family, mentors and friends across the world.

Alex Okosi via Linkedin

Congratulations to Okosi and we wish him the best on this new journey!