Ever since Bob Collymore passed away in 2019, Safaricom has experienced a number of management changes. Collymore’s death left a void in the CEO docket, which was then filled by the then-immediate former CEO Michael Joseph. He steered the company for a couple of months, up to a time when Peter Ndegwa’s tenure became effective in early 2020.
Michael Joseph then stayed on as Board Chairman after the retirement of Nicholas Ng’ang’a. MJ’s tenure, was only short-lived because the Board picked a new chairman, career investment banker John Ngumi in July 2022. His tenure lasted only for a couple of months too, and was marked by few public appearances. His absence was noted when the telco was making key announcements such as the Safaricom Ethiopia launch, as well as the commercial availability of 5G.
Ngumi’s only public presentation was when Safaricom held an investor briefing in November 2022. Many have argued that he knew his work with the Board wasn’t going to last, which is why he didn’t do much to make his presence known and felt.
However, before these changes had experienced a period when all the chief executives that had worked with Collymore actively left the telco.
Ndegwa reorganized the top leadership of the company by introducing a new team of executives.
The first to leave was Rita Okuthe, who was the Chief Enterprise Business Officer, followed by Sateesh Kamal, who became the CFO of Vodafone Business.
Steve Chege, who was the Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, left for Vodacom as the Group’s Chief External Affairs Officer.
Joe Ogutu, who was the Chief Special Projects Officer, retired from the company.
Kris Senanu, who succeeded Rita Okuthe, also departed Safaricom after a short period.
Debra Mallowa, the Chief Development Officer, and Sylvia Mulinge, who was once expected to replace Bob Collymore, also left. Sylvia Mulinge is currently the CEO of MTN Uganda.
Additional changes have recently been made in Safaricom in terms of its Board membership. Long-serving member Bitange Ndemo, who served as Independent Director was replaced by Ory Okollo.
The Board also announced that Ms. Karen Kandie would be joining the team as the Alternate Director to the Cabinet Secretary of National Treasury and Economic Planning, replacing Eng. Stanley Kamau.
Peter Ndegwa is here to stay
These changes, however, do not have the potential to drive a deeper conversation in terms of how Safaricom is being managed other than those that have recently and reportedly suggested that CEO Peter Ndegwa will be on his way out too (as soon as his contract expires).
Rumours had suggested that Joshua Oigara, who is currently the CEO of Stanbic and a former CEO of KCB Group, was being considered for the top position at Safaricom [there was a rumour he was being prepared to take over Collymore before he unfortunately passed away]. He has since dismissed the talk and stated that he had no intention of leaving his current role and was fully committed to his contract with Stanbic Bank.
Oigara emphasized that he prefers to stay with organizations for a longer period of time.
On the other hand, Ndegwa has clarified his stand that he is not going anywhere following his chat with Business Daily.
He has dismissed ‘gossip’ about his future at the company, stating that his employment terms are not tied to the three-year contract cycle offered to his expatriate predecessors.
Ndegwa is confident in his performance and achievement of targets set by the board.
As a Kenyan, he is not subject to the same contractual conditions as his expatriate predecessors.
The Safaricom Board charter outlines a CEO’s fixed-term contract of not less than three years and not more than seven years, with the possibility of extension.
The recent changes on the Board led to speculation about Ndegwa’s future, but he remains focused on achieving his targets.
Safaricom is East Africa’s most profitable company, and Ndegwa earned KES 288.93 million, including a KES 178.88 million bonus, in the year that ended in March last year.