New Safaricom Ethiopia CEO Faces Tough Task

Wim Vanhelleputte has been named as the new CEO of Safaricom Ethiopia

Safaricom has named a new CEO for its operation in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation, following the exit of Anwar Sousa earlier this month. Anwar Sousa had been appointed as Managing Director of Safaricom Ethiopia in July 2021 as the telco ventured into the country.

Wim Vanhelleputte has been named as the new CEO of Safaricom Ethiopia, with his appointment to take effect on September 1. He joins Safaricom from MTN Group. After 6 years at the helm of MTN Uganda, Vanhelleputte in August 2022 moved to head the West and Central African markets of Liberia, Guinea-Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, and Congo-Brazzaville within the MTN Group.

Vanhelleputte will be expected to steer Safaricom Ethiopia’s growth as well as to ensure the success of M-Pesa, its mobile money service, in Ethiopia. Safaricom was granted a license to operate a mobile money service in Ethiopia in May this year, and revenue from M-Pesa will be key to the company’s success.

In Kenya, M-Pesa is Safaricom’s most lucrative revenue stream. Safaricom Ethiopia generated Ksh562.4 million in revenue in just over seven months. 63% of the revenue was from mobile data, 24% from voice, and the rest from messaging and mobile incoming.

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Safaricom aims to have at least 10 million customers  in Ethiopia by 2024. According to the telco’s 2022/2023 FY results, Safaricom Ethiopia racked up over 3 million customers in just over seven months. About 2.1 million customers use the carrier actively.

M-Pesa revenues and continued growth will help shore up Safaricom Ethiopia’s prospects, as the heavy investment by Safaricom in the country has negatively impacted its overall performance.

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“Safaricom increased its Group Service Revenue by 5.2% to KES 295.7 billion while the Group net income excluding minority interest declined by 10.6% attributable to expected start-up costs and investment in rolling out operations in Ethiopia within the year,” the company noted in a past statement.

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