Peter Ndegwa. He is the new Safaricom CEO having been appointed by the company's board. www.businesstoday.co.ke
Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa The firm is mulling cutting M-Pesa charges to boost volumes [Photo/BusinessDay Media]

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa will not mimick the styles of his predecessors as he takes on the biggest corporate job in Eastern Africa and will instead be “his own man”.

Ndegwa who assumed the position on April 1 moved to quash any suggestion that he will be anything like the late Bob Collymore or Michael Joseph but assured stakeholders that the company is looking at advancing its success to the next level to the continental and global stage “within the next three years”.

The Late Bob Collymore was an easygoing CEO who interacted freely with his staff and Kenyans but grew the company tremendously since taking over as boss in 2010 while Joseph is widely respected for being an innovative executive and building the company from the ground.

Speaking during his first TV interview, Ndegwa said that opportunities for growth outside Kenya are there for the taking but stressed that profit-making avenues within the country are yet to be exhausted.

‘There are significant opportunities to look through to look at other areas of growth including potential beyond this country but the headroom for growth in this country through innovation and in particular through digital is significant,” said Ndegwa during an interview with Citizen TV.

Business Today has previously reported that Michael Joseph will be showing Ndegwa the ropes for an initial period of three months before the new chief executive becomes fully acquainted with how the company is run.

Different

Ndegwa also noted that he is up to the task but is willing to learn considering that the alcoholic beverages sector where he has cut his teeth is very different from the telecommunications sector.

“The sectors are very different. I have come from a consumer sector that was selling drinks to one that sells voice, data and financial services. The key for me though is that they are all consumers. It is all about understanding customer needs,” said Ndegwa.

COVID-19

According to Ndegwa, 70% of Safaricom employees are working from home leaving only key personnel including IT staff and those working in Safaricom shops to report to their work stations during government-stipulated hours.

“We recognise we are offering an essential service to this country which is about keeping the country connected so we have enabled all our employees to have the capacity to work from home, ” said Ndegwa “We have contingency plans in case there is a need for any more of our employees to work remotely,”

Ndegwa himself is working from home but has already been to Safaricom House and is gearing to hit the ground running as soon as the country overcomes the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company has already credited the COVID-19 Fund with Ksh200 million and Ndegwa says that the company has made a raft of interventions to align its business with the crisis that the country is currently facing. Board member Michael Joseph sits on the COVID-19 Fund taskforce.

Safaricom has set up a 300 strong call center complete with 20 professional doctors to help out Kenyans in need of help during the Coronavirus period, the call center receives up to 20,000 calls per day from Kenyans across the country.

The company according to its CEO has also revised its data packages in the wake of increased demand. Websites and applications that provide e-learning material for pupils and students have been zero-rated while fibre capacity has been enhanced to cater for increased demand.

“Traditional sources of growth for the company have started to plateau like voice and SMS however there is significant opportunity for data and I believe we can innovate through data and to make sure that our data is more accessible,” said Ndegwa.

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