Michael Joseph has been appointed as the new Safaricom board chairperson replacing Nicholas Ng’ang’a who is set to head for retirement after serving on the company’s board for 13 years.
Ng’ang’a has been serving as the company’s chairperson and non-executive director since 2007 and has seen the company grow from strength to strength and retain its place as the most profitable company in East Africa.
Announcing the appointment, Safaricom Chief Executive officer Peter Ndegwa said Mr. Joseph’s appointment takes effect on August 1 and his predecessor will be tasked with improving customer sentiment, greater brand consideration and bolstering the firm’s digital transformation agenda
“He brings a wealth of skills and industry knowledge given his contribution to the growth of Safaricom from very humble beginnings to becoming one of the most innovative, influential and profitable companies in the East African region,” Mr Ndegwa said.
The decision makes alot of sense for Safaricom since Mr. Joseph is the company’s first Chief Executive and no one understands the company better than him.
Following the death of Bob Collymore in July 2019, Joseph was thrown straight in the deep end as the company overlooked several high ranking officials at the firm.
At the time, Mr Joseph was a Safaricom board member and the Chairperson of Kenya Airways.
The reason given for overlooking familiar faces such as Chief Customer Officer Sylvia Mulinge, the then Safaricom Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Sateesh Kamath and Chief Special Projects Officer Joseph Ogutu was “the company was not going to install just anyone because they are within range of the top office” and that a potential CEO appointee had to understand the DNA of Safaricom.
Well, no one understands the DNA of Safaricom better than Mr Joseph.
Speaking to Business Today on the 13th M-PESA Anniversary celebrations in Nairobi in March Mr. Joseph gave every indication that although he was happy to welcome Peter Ndegwa as the new Chief Executive, he was at pains to let go of the company he oversaw being built from scratch.
He also expressed regret that he had been back as CEO for a short time before a new man was identified to pick up the mantle.
“The first time it was easy because I had been at the helm for 10 years so handing to Bob Collymore was seamless,” he said, “This time is a bit difficult because I have only been here for a short time, there’s so much that could have been done but I have faith in the new CEO.”
“I will be at hand to make sure that he understands the DNA of Safaricom,” said Mr. Joseph “Safaricom is not just any other company, there are principles that the firm stands for like giving back to Kenyans and I want to make sure that he (Peter Ndegwa) understands that,” he added.
The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) Quarterly Statistical Bulletin for the three months ended June 2020 shows that Safaricom’s market capitalization at the end of June stood at Ksh1.14 trillion. In the last financial year, the company posted a Ksh73.6 net profit and Mr. Joseph has been central to that growth.
Mr Joseph also oversaw the launch of launch of mobile money platform, M-PESA, which has become one of the biggest business success stories in the world.
M-PESA was been recognised as one of the top 10 Most Influential Finance Projects of the last 50 years by Project Management Institute (PMI) in its 2019 Most Influential Projects list.
Mr. Joseph joined the Safaricom board on September 8, 2008. Prior to joining Safaricom Mr. Joseph was a consultant for Vodafone which influenced virtually all management decisions at the telco,
After leaving Safaricom Mr Joseph joined the World Bank Group in 2011 as a mobile money advisor before returning to Vodafone as Managing Director- Mobile Money.
He is currently the Chairperson of national carrier Kenya Airways.
During his first stint as Safaricom CEO, Mr. Joseph steered the company from a subscriber base of less than 20,000 to over 16.71 million subscribers.
Ng’ang’a joined the Safaricom board on May 6, 2004 and was elected Chairman on January 16, 2007. He sterred the company to become East Africa’s most profitable company, with annual revenues in excess of Sh200 billion.
“He has steered the company through various milestones over the 13 years he was at the helm. During his tenure as chairman. Mr. Nganga has been instrumental for the monumental growth that the telco has experienced,” Mr Ndegwa said in his statement.
“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 Ng’ang’a 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,” Mr Ndegwa said.