Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore Tenure Extended, Says Business with Troubled Huawei to Stay

Bob Collymore
Bob Collymore, Safaricom CEO

Bob Collymore

Telco Safaricom is one of the sponsors of the Shared Value Summit that is taking place in Nairobi. The event, which started earlier today, was graced by the carrier’s CEO Bob Collymore, who briefed media personalities on the summit’s role, and Safaricom’s hand in it.

During the interview session, Mr. Collymore revealed that he will be serving the company for the next year (beginning August 2019 when his tenure is supposed to expire). Bob will, therefore, hold his title and responsibilities amid retirement speculations.

A few weeks ago, when the telco released its full year results, Mr. Ng’ang’a who serves as the chairman of the Safaricom board noted that the corporation had not come to any conclusions about the future of Collymore. The Chairman’s assertions were in response ICT CS Joe Mucheru’s input that Bob’s retirement would mark a good a time for a Kenyan to head the immensely profitable mobile telecoms operator.

The extension is supported by Bob’s absence from the company when he flew out of the country to seek medical assistance. Furthermore, issues with his health were initially linked retirement speculations, but that is no longer the case.

Network outage

On Friday last, week, Safaricom was hit by a countrywide M-PESA outage that lasted for a couple of hours. A day later, network issues that primarily affected voice services was reported in select parts in Nyanza and Rift Valley Provinces. While both issues were addressed, they did not go unnoticed thanks to an uproar that was seen across social media platforms.

At the press conference, Bob said he had knowledge of the outage, and the company works hard to ensure network blackouts are not experienced because even a one-minute outage affects core businesses. While he did not specify the reason for the outage, he acknowledged the issue and reported that Safaricom systems are always being honed to serve customers better.

Opinion on Huawei-U.S. trade war

Huawei is having a hard time right now. A year ago, it tried to enter the U.S. smartphone market, but that did not come to see light of day. A few months later, the corporation was banned from operating its telecoms business in the U.S. for ‘national secuirty’ reasons, an allegation that has not been backed up by evidence.

The sledgehammer hit the telecoms corporation when Google announced plans to stop doing business with the Chinese company, implying future Huawei phones will no longer ship with Android OS. The blow was made worse when British chip company, ARM, announced it was cutting ties with Huawei too. ARM has foundries that are used to manufacture chips. Huawei Kirin chips are also based ARM technologies, so the ban is as devastating as it sounds.

However, a significant share of Huawei business is based on telecoms and networking operations. It has been a key business partner with Safaricom for a long time (and the government of Kenya too), and Bob Collymore has termed the development as an ‘unfortunate geopolitical’ issue. While the business relationship will continue as it has been the case (some global carriers allied to the US have since cut ties with Huawei), it is not clear how the relationship will work if Huawei equipment will be used to serve services associated with American companies such as the aforementioned ban of Android and its long list of products.


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