Michael Joseph Back At Safaricom As Board Chairman

NAIROBI, 30TH JULY 2020: Former Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph has been appointed chairman of Safaricom’s Board of Directors. A statement sent to the press by Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa says he is taking over from Nicholas Ng’anga who has retired after serving as chairman since 2007.

In reference to Ng’ang’ a’s achievements with the telco giant, Ndegwa says “Mr. Nganga took up the leadership reins at a time when the government was starting the process of offering 25% of its shares to the public through the Nairobi Securities Exchange in 2008. He has managed to grow shareholder value by 607% since listing.  Safaricom market capitalization at KES 1.075 trillion is worth 50% of all the listed firms on the NSE.”

At the time of his appointment as Chairman, Safaricom had slightly over 6 million customers, 1,000 employees and only 8 Safaricom shops across the country. Mr Nganga retires from the telco that now serves over 35.6 million customers, across 50 shops and hundreds of service desks across the country, with a staff force of over 6,500 employees.

He led the board in overseeing the rapid network development in the country, having started with 3G upgrading on his appointment at a cost of Kshs 1B. In his last financial year as chairman, Safaricom announced the investment of Kshs 36B to expand its network coverage.

Michael Joseph is not a stranger at the telco, he has previously served as CEO of Safaricom, Acting CEO following the death of Bob Collymore and has been a non-executive board member of the company since September 2008. He also serves as the Chairman of the national carrier, Kenya Airways board.

It is however still not clear if the new appointment of Michael Joseph to head the company’s board has anything to do with its ownership politics. In 2018, Safaricom’s parent company Vodacom UK was embroiled in a tussle with the Kenyan government over the replacement of Bob Collymore who had expressed desire to retire as CEO. The Kenyan government who own part of the company were interested in seeing a Kenyan at the helm of the region’s most profitable company but Vodacom wanted a freehand in choosing a successor for Collymore. The impasse saw Collymore’s contract extended for one year despite his ill – health. He died in office.

Peter Ndegwa, a Kenyan was eventually appointed to take over the reins but just three months into the job, Michael Joseph returns to take leadership of the company’s board. Whether this is purely based on merit and his experience with the industry or Vodacom’s way of trying to keep an eye on the outsider is something only time will tell.

Both Michael Joseph and Bob Collymore joined Safaricom from Vodacom, the current CEO was previously working in the beverages industry. At the time of his appointment in late 2019, he was the Managing Director at Diageo, Amsterdam Area, Netherlands. He has also previously worked for Diageo in Nigeria and Ghana and for East Africa Breweries Limited.

 

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