NAIROBI – The Chairman of Kenya Airways, Mr Michael Joseph, has been appointed acting Chief Executive Officer of Safaricom following the death of Bob Collymore.
Safaricom Board of Directors, in a statement issued by company secretary Kathryne Maundu, said Mr Joseph, who previously served as the company CEO, will assume the position with immediate effect.
“Mr. Joseph will hold this position until the Board communicates in due course on a permanent appointment,” Mr Maundu’s statement reads in part.
Bob Collymore, 61, who oversaw the rise of Safaricom as one of the most successful telecom companies in Africa, died on Monday at his Nairobi home following a battle with cancer of the blood.
Mr Collymore, who took the top job with the Kenyan company in 2010, oversaw an increase of nearly 500 percent in its share value thanks to the popular mobile money transfer service M-Pesa and a growing customer base.
He had agreed in May to serve another year in the role after the government, which owns 35 percent of the company, insisted that a local be picked to succeed him, complicating the hiring process.
Mr Joseph revealed in an interview with KTN lifestyle that together with five of his colleagues seconded by Vodafone started Safaricom in 2000 building up the company at an apartment in Norfolk Towers.
They took over the assets from Telkom Kenya which included 11 base stations in Nairobi. At the time he was starting the company people registered many complaints about its services.
“We did not know that Safaricom would grow to what it is at the moment, making billions of shillings in profit and changing lives through products such as the M-pesa,” he said.
“It has not been a smooth ride for Safaricom,” he said.
“Because when we started we had no data about Kenyans, what we had was a business plan developed by Vodafone guys saying that we might or might not be successful in five years’ time giving us a projection of four or five hundred thousand customers within that period and plan also said chances of failure was also high.”
He recalled the biggest challenge in setting up Safaricom at that time was lack of data documenting economic trends in Kenya, basically how much people earned and the spending culture.
In 2016, Mr Joseph was appointed the Chairman of Kenya Airways at a time when the national carrier was and is still experiencing financial challenges.