Government succeeds to have Kenyan at the helm of Safaricom

The government has succeeded in having a Kenyan at the helm of Safaricom PLC.

On Thursday, the Safaricom board appointed Diageo’s Peter Ndegwa as the company’s boss effective April 2020.

Soon after former CEO Bob Collymore’s death in July, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru expressed government’s wish to have the position go to a Kenyan.

“My wish is that a Kenyan gets the position but we don’t control the business. We have appointed directors to run the business. It doesn’t mean that what the government wants is what it gets,” CS Mucheru said.

Collymore had extended his contract by one year prior to his death.


ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru / COURTESY

Reuters had prior to the extension reported that Safaricom had conducted interviews for Collymore’s replacement, before settling on a foreigner within the Vodafone group. “But the government objected, citing an agreement supporting the appointment of a Kenyan as CEO, adopted at a shareholder meeting in 2017.”

The government of Kenya has a 35 per cent stake, Vodacom 35 per cent, while Vodafone has five per cent shareholding.

A source at Safaricom confided to The Brief that acting CEO Michael Joseph, who was also the first telco boss, was opposed to Ndegwa’s appointment but lost in the board’s vote. He is said to have hoped for a Vodafone Group Services Limited candidate, where he is employed as the Director of Mobile Money.

Joseph is American, but also a Kenyan citizen, while Collymore was Guyanese-born.

The board consists of Nicholas Nganga (chairman and non-executive director), Michael Joseph, ( interim CEO and director member nominations and nominations committee), Esther Koimett ( representing government) and Kathryne Maundu (company secretary).

Others are ex-ICT permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo ( independent), CEO, AMAP Region for Vodafone Vivek Badrinath (non-executive), Vodacom Group CEO Mohamed Shameel Aziz Joosub, lawyer Linda Wairi Muriuki (non-executive), Vodacom Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director Til Streichert (non-executive) and Rose Ogega (independent).

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