Former Safaricom CEO and Chairman Michael Joseph is one of the most recognizable faces in corporate Kenya. He is currently the Chairman of the national carrier Kenya Airways, and has promised to steer the loss-making national carrier back to profitability by 2024 alongside CEO Allan Kilavuka.
Joseph this week resigned as a director of Safaricom Plc. He will, however, continue to earn hefty fees and bonuses thanks to various roles he continues to hold in different organizations. Fees and bonuses form a key part of Joseph’s income.
Besides chairing the Kenya Airways board, he also chairs the boards of Safaricom Ethiopia and insurtech startup Pula. He also serves as an advisor to the CEO at Safaricom Ethiopia, as the telco attempts to replicate its success in Kenya in Africa’s second most populous nation.
Joseph earned Ksh18 million in fees from Kenya Airways for the year ended December 2021. The figure was double the Ksh9 million he earned for the same role in 2020.
Despite his multi-million shilling earnings, and being credited with orchestrating the rise of Safaricom to become East Africa’s largest and most profitable company, plus spearheading the mobile money revolution with M-Pesa, Joseph insists he is not a rich man.
In 2019, he sold all 1.17 million Safaricom shares he had. According to Joseph, he did so to fund the construction of a home as part of his retirement planning.
His properties currently include a house in Wales and an apartment in London, as well as an Audi.
“When you invest in a company like I did with Safaricom you invest for a reason,” Mr Joseph stated in 2020, explaining why he sold off his covered Safaricom stock. “You invest at some point because you want to invest. When you take the money out you want to spend on something. In my semi-retirement I am building a house and I needed the funds.”
He has previously denied claims that he owns a home and ranch in the Lewa conservancy, stating that he rents the house from the landowner.
“There is no fortune. People talk about a Shamba or a ranch in Laikipia, but I don’t have one. I have a home in Lewa, which I rent from the landowner. Money is useful, of course. We all need to live and eat but I’ve not been one to try to be very rich. I will never be rich. I will never own a yacht,” he stated.