The death of Safaricom‘s Chief Executive Officer, Bob Collymore, created a vacuum in the position. The telecommunications company has however found a replacement in the 73-year-old former CEO, Michael Joseph, who changed the fortune of Safaricom between 2000 and 2010.
Collymore, who died on yesterday, Monday July 1, battled with cancer two years, during which he chose to remain as Safaricom’s CEO for another year, pending a replacement. But that didn’t happen until his demise. He was CEO for a period of nine years, 2010-2019.
The Management and Board of Safaricom announced that Michael Joseph would be taking over the top executive position on an interim base until a Kenyan is appointed to fill the space.
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While Joseph is a Kenyan-American, the Kenyan government, however, insisted on a local serving as full-time CEO. The government owns a 35% stake in Safaricom, which is the largest telecoms firm in East Africa, and controls about 62% of Kenya’s mobile market with 30 million subscribers.
Joseph’s antecedents for Safaricom:
- Joseph was Safaricom’s former CEO for ten years. During his tenure, he grew the company’s subscriber base from 20,000 to more than 16.71 million. He later paved way for Collymore to also play a vital role in transforming Safaricom into East Africa’s most profitable company with an $11 billion valuation.
- Joseph was said to have posted a 37 percent rise in pretax profit in his last full year.
- He also pioneered the famous and successful M-Pesa (mobile money transfer system) which helped increase Safaricom’s share price to nearly 500% when Collymore took over.
- Safaricom did its Initial Public Offering (IPO) under Joseph’s leadership.
Home away from home: Joseph never left despite stepping down for Collymore to take over in 2010. He was appointed as Director of Mobile Money by Vodafone, which has 35% shares in Safaricom. He also served as adviser on the Boards of Vodacom South Africa, Vodacom Tanzania and Vodacom Mozambique.
While speaking about Joseph’s appointment, the company said, “The board is confident that during this transition, Mr. Joseph will provide the necessary guidance and leadership to the company and its employees.”
Note: Joseph is expected to continue in his capacity as the chairman of Kenya Airways.