Safaricom
Safaricom PLC CEO Peter Ndegwa with outgoing Board Chairman Michael Joseph (right).

Starting August 1, 2022, career banker John Ngumi will step into the apex leadership of East Africa’s most profitable company Safaricom as the Board Chairman.

Mr Ngumi will be taking over from the telco’s former Chief Executive Officer and immediate Board Chairman Michael Joseph.

Mr Ngumi is highly experienced and has been closely allied with Safaricom since its inception including arranging the telco’s first bond, Joseph told shareholders.

“I want to devote more time to supporting Safaricom’s investment in Ethiopia and relinquishing the role of Chairman allows me the flexibility and freedom to undertake this important role on behalf of Safaricom,” Mr Joseph said during the company’s AGM.

In the 10 months ended March, Safaricom Ethiopia suffered a net loss of Kes4.8 billion, attributable to huge startup costs in a period when the company did not make revenue.

Safaricom Ethiopia, in which Kenya’s giant telco holds a 55.7 percent shareholding, was issued an operating licence in July 2021 and plans to launch operations in the country of over 100 million population in August, this year.

Mr Joseph, who has served as Safaricom Board Chairman since 2020, added that the move will allow him to devote more time to his chairman role at the national carrier, Kenya Airways, during this critical time to ensure that we continue the work of restructuring and refinancing for KQ to remain on a flight to profitability by 2024.

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“Prior to making this decision, I consulted widely including discussions with our main shareholders, the Government of Kenya, Vodacom and Vodafone, the Board and of course with Peter, our CEO,” Mr Joseph added.

“I look forward to working with the incoming Chairman John Ngumi as we steer the company to becoming a purpose-led technology business,” Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said.

The CEO noted that the telco seeks to maintain its dividend policy of 80 percent of net earning adding that the plan is not expected to change because of funding requirement brought by ongoing expansion into Ethiopia.

Michael Joseph will, however, remain as a director on the board, for the next few years, advising and supporting the company generally through this transition, and driving the company’s strategic agenda.

Currently, Mr Ngumi whose appointment is subject to regulatory approval is serving as the board chairman at the Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC) and is also a member of the board of KQ.

Mr Joseph has been a permanent fixture at the helm of Safaricom since its establishment, first serving as the founding CEO between 2000 and 2010, then board director, before briefly stepping in as the CEO (July 2019 – March 2020) following the demise of Bob Collymore.

He has been serving as Chairman of the Board upon the retirement of his predecessor, Mr Nicholas Nganga, in 2020.

Mr Nganga served as Safaricom chairman since 2007 and he is now working in a similar capacity at Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed Kakuzi Plc.

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