Bob Collymore: "I owe the company about a year."

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore’s contract has been extended by one year.  The CEO, whose tenure at the helm of Safaricom was due to expire in August this year, said he would stay on at Kenya’s leading mobile operator until 2020, calming speculation that we was exiting soon.

“I’m here until the Year 2020,” Mr Collymore said at a press conference at Radisson Blu hotel, Nairobi. “I owe the company about a year.”

He said the board had approved the extension of his contract, noting also that his family supports the move.

Collymore was away for nine months from October 2017 on medical leave in Britain but remotely managed the company from hospital. When he returned he shocked Kenyans by revealing that   he was undergoing treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a type of cancer that starts in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow.

Ever since, he has been in his best elements, attending press conferences and other functions though he has delegated some of the footwork to Ms Sylvia Mulinge, the chief customer officer at Safaricom.

Collymore’s succession has been the trickiest for Safaricom, which has given the CEO three extensions on his contract. Initially his contract expired in 2015 but was extended by two years to 2017 and, again, by a similar period.

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The government of Kenya, which 35% of Safaricom, is staking for a Kenyan to helm Safaricom, but Vodafone, which owns 40% (35% through Vodacom of South Africa) would be keen on picking its choice, just like it did when Michael Joseph left in 2010.

“I would be very surprised if they can’t find a Kenyan,” ICT Cabinet Secretary Jose Mucheru was quoted recently as saying. It will be hard for them to justify, what is so special about telecoms.”

The extension will soothe the markets, which were getting skittish of his exit. Collymore is credited with improving Safaricom’s network quality, customer service and growing the M-Pesa juggernaut.

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