Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore today appeared in public for the first time since he took medical leave in October last year. Collymore surprised many journalists and investors attending the company’s financial results briefing at the Michael Joseph Centre by giving an address through a video link from in London.
He said he had made good progress on treatment and would be back to his office soon.
“I’ve just entered the final phase of the treatment and expect to be back in Nairobi as soon as the doctors feel that my immune system is sufficiently robust to withstand the infection risks associated with airline travel,” he said, calming frayed nerves among investors and Kenyan public over his health.
The CEO has been away now for six months for treatment of an undisclosed condition and there had been speculation whether indeed he was returning. In his absence, Safaricom chief financial officer Sateesh Kamath has been playing a primary role, supported by Joseph Ogutu the company’s director of Strategy and Innovation.
Below is his transcribed video address:
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Good morning everyone!
I’d like to take this opportunity to join the chairman in welcoming you all to our 2017 Full Year results announcement. As many of you are aware, I have been away from the office receiving medical treatment since October last year.
I have been fortunate to have a great team of medical specialists attending to me since I came to London and as you can see I’m making good progress.
I’ve just entered the final phase of the treatment and expect to be back in Nairobi as soon as the doctors feel that my immune system is sufficiently robust to withstand the infection risks associated with airline travel.
It’s difficult to say exactly when that will be but close monitoring by the medical team will continue here in London for a number of weeks.
In the meantime, I thank you all for the messages of goodwill, prayers and visits, and I look forward to being back in action in Nairobi soon.
Anyway, that’s enough about me for today.
Let’s talk business now.
Before Joe (Ogutu) and (Kamath) Sateesh take you through the results in detail, I would like to say that I am extremely pleased to be presenting to our investors and stakeholders a good set of results, where we finished ahead of the guidance we gave last year.
To achieve these results, we sharpened our focus on delivering relevant products and services, organisational effectiveness and putting our customers first; a strategy that was exceptionally executed considering the challenging business climate that the last year presented to us and many other businesses in Kenya.
We continued our efforts to diversify the business to support revenue generated by voice and SMS. Both M-PESA and mobile data grew in double digits.
Voice and SMS continued to defy global trends to report a blended growth of 2.9% YoY.
Sustained investment in our network rollout plan played a key role in our growth, adding 562 new 4G sites to our network.
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Last year we unveiled a new brand promise, Twaweza, which simply means that when we come together, great things happen.
Twaweza put us on new journey to unite with Kenyans from all walks of life to build the foundations for a more resilient Kenya. It presented us with a new way of thinking about our business, and our relationship with our country.
To build a new dream for Kenya, and to offer solutions that connect people to people, people to knowledge, and people to opportunities. Twaweza inspires us to ensure that in our transformative journey, we leave no one behind.
As I have said on many occasions, Safaricom is a purpose-driven organisation, and so we stand for more than just numbers. We believe that when we place purpose at the centre of our company profits will naturally follow.
In the last financial year, we supported more than 80,000 community projects and built and strengthened partnerships that continue to transform lives across the country.
Through these partnerships we are bringing positive change to communities.
In particular I would like to call out initiatives such as M-TIBA – the mobile health wallet we launched in partnership with PharmAccess and CarePay. M-TIBA currently has nearly one million users and has paid out over Kshs 200 million to cover healthcare costs for ordinary Kenyans;
There are also DigiFarm and Connected Farmer which are delivering sustainable innovative solutions in agriculture to our farmers through mobile technology.
By purposing to provide such services to Kenyans we achieve both corporate and social goals providing a sustainable approach to business.
Safaricom is what it is today for many reasons; and a strong management team is one of them.
I began my medical treatment knowing I was leaving behind a strong Executive team, and the results we are sharing here today are testament to what happens when we come together.
Since January I have been working closely with my Executive team both face to face here in London and remotely using our Virtual Private Network.
In my absence this is the team that has provided the leadership required to steer our business through a challenging business environment, occasioned by last year’s prolonged electioneering period and a tough regulatory landscape.
I would like to thank my executive team for their leadership, which has led to the results we are announcing today.
I would also like to thank our Board Chairman, Mr. Nicholas Ng’ang’a, and all our Board members, for supporting the team during my absence.
I now hand you over to Joe and Sateesh for a more detailed account of our results.
From me here in London, kwaheri!
I look forward to seeing you all in Nairobi very soon.