The carefully managed transition of the chief executive post at the most profitable company in the region in its final stages with Peter Ndegwa set to report to work on April 1.
After the death of Bob Collymore, current acting chief executive Michael Joseph went a long way in lifting the lid on the thinking that goes behind hiring a person to fill the role.
“We cannot appoint someone as CEO of Safaricom just because they are there. They must understand the DNA and values of the company,” said Mr. Joseph responding to a question on whether the company was considering the company’s Chief Customer Officer Sylvia Mulinge, Chief Financial Officer Sateesh Kamath or Chief of Special Projects Joseph Ogutu for the top role.
Since his temporary appointment, Michael Joseph has been a safe pair of hands navigating through a raft of challenges including the rivalry with Airtel& Telkom most notably when Telkom CEO Mugo Kibati accused Safaricom of frustrating the firm’s much-hyped merger with Airtel.
Joseph also oversaw the rolling out of the campaign Simple, Transparent and Honest meant to firm up relations with customers after telcos in the country were sued for expiring data bundles.
Ndegwa has already updated his Twitter bio to read the incoming CEO of Safaricom. The chief executive will be expected to pick up where Joseph will have left.
The incoming CEO has already warmed up to the job with aplomb but will be expected to better the stellar records of Joseph and Collymore.
During the latter stages of his time at the helm, Collymore fought off attempts by authorities and legislators to split Safaricom the core business and M-Pesa and Ndegwa will at some point have fight off similar attempts.
He will also be expected to build on the company’s strong financial performance after years of reporting fat profits and being the dominant telco in the country.
In November, the company reported a Ksh35.7 billion half-year profit, building on the Ksh63.4 billion profit reported for the full year ended 31st March 2019.
But there is a slight problem, data posted by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) shows the company has slowly been losing subscribers to Airtel and Telkom and Ndegwa will be expected to provide creative solutions to arrest this slide.
Peter Ndegwa will be the first Kenyan to lead the company after the government made it abundantly clear that it wanted to see a Kenyan as chief executive of the bluechip company
He joins the mobile services company from Diageo, a global leader in the alcoholic beverages business, where he is currently serving as Managing Director of Continental Europe.
One of Ndegwa’s biggest innovations at Diageo was the introduction of Senator KEG into the Kenyan market.
The move proved to be a masterstroke as many Kenyans quickly bought into the affordable drink manufactured by a trusted brewer.
The new CEO will be expected to come up with more innovations this time at Safaricom.