Michael Joseph has resigned as a director of Safaricom board, with effect from 1st August 2023, touching off speculation that he could be headed for a bigger role at Safaricom Ethiopia. Mr Joseph has served in various capacities within Safaricom since 2000 including as general manager, CEO (twice), director as well as chairman of the board.
Mr Michael Joseph, simply known as MJ in social circles, has also served as a member and chairman of various committees of the board. Notably, Michael was the founding CEO of Safaricom Limited, steering the company from a subscriber base of less than 18,000 in 2000 to over 17 million subscribers by his retirement in November 2010, making it the most successful company in East Africa.
“I could stay on for another 10 years to be honest but I just think that at some point your value diminishes and I am not a great board person,” Mr Joseph said in interview with Nation today. “I can do a lot more off the board than on it. Being off the main board gives me a little more time to concentrate on Ethiopia.”
Mr Joseph, who joined the Safaricom Board on September 8, 2008, was appointed board chairman on August 1, 2020, taking over from Nicholas Ng’ang’a who had served as the chairman and non-executive member since 2007.
He then resigned as chairman in July 2022, to focus on the new Safaricom venture in Ethiopia, and also Kenya Airways, handing over the mantle to John Ngumi. He said relinguishing chairmanship would allow him the flexibility and freedom to undertake this important role.
“This will also allow me to devote more time to Kenya Airways during this critical time to ensure that we continue the work of restructuring and refinancing for KQ to remain on the journey towards profitability in the next two years,” Joseph said.
Mr Joseph first took over as chairman of KQ in 2016 and got re-elected in 2019 and 2022, serving three terms in succession. His current tenure is expected to end in 2025.
During his tenure at Safaricom, Joseph oversaw the highly successful launch and phenomenal growth of M-PESA and its related services. He also was behind the launch of both the Safaricom and M-PESA Foundations, which have supported many projects throughout Kenya in education, health, culture and conservation to name a few.
He, together with the late Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, launched the highly successful M-PESA Foundation Academy.
It is the deep foundation and connection with the communities that Michael developed that led to Safaricom’s phenomenal growth, development of innovative products and services, ensuring Safaricom became deeply embedded in every bit of Kenyan society.
He has been integral to the important advances that Safaricom has made over the years, including the issuance of Safaricom’s first bond, the Initial Public Offer in 2007 and the branching out into Ethiopia.
Kathryne Maundu, Safaricom Company Secretary, said MJ leaves the board to focus on other ventures in his life including continuing his role as chairman of Kenya Airways and being a director in various organizations.
“He will continue to pursue his passions in matters conservation and community service,” Ms Maundu said. “The board takes this opportunity to thank Michael for his dedicated service, sound advice and commitment to Safaricom and wishes him the very best for the future.”
MJ said in June last year it was important that he continues to play a role in the creation of the Pan African Airline Group at Kenya Airways, to ensure connectivity as well as reliable and affordable air transport in Africa.
“While there is indeed a right time in any man or woman’s life to take a step back from business and devote more time to enjoying life, in my case, this will probably not happen yet as I will continue to participate in other interesting business opportunities available,” Joseph added.