Michael Joseph to stay on as Safaricom's boss as search continues

"I will stay for as long as it is necessary."

In Summary

• Joseph said they were in the final selection phase of picking a candidate for the top position.

•He, however, says he will stay for as long as it is necessary.

Safaricom interim CEO Michael Joseph.
Safaricom interim CEO Michael Joseph.
Image: FILE

Safaricom’s interim CEO Michael Joseph has said he will stay on for as long as he is needed at the telco's helm as the board fast tracks its succession plan.

Speaking to members of the press on Friday during the telco’s AGM, Joseph said they were in the final selection phase of picking a candidate for the top position.

“I will stay for as long as it is necessary. We had another year to search for a successor knowing that Bob (the late) would step down in August of next year,” he said.


The late Bob Collymore exit plans from the telecommunications company were first announced in April due to health reasons, but the government’s insistence he should be succeeded by a Kenyan delayed announcing a replacement.

“When Bob passed on quite suddenly and unexpectedly that meant we had to hasten this succession plan,” Joseph said.

In April, Reuters reported that the board interviewed candidates before settling on an unidentified foreign national from within the Vodafone group to succeed Collymore.

The government however objected, citing an agreement supporting the appointment of a Kenyan as CEO, adopted at a shareholder meeting in 2017.

Choosing a chief executive at Safaricom has always remained the preserve of Britain’s Vodafone, which was the major shareholder in the firm until 2017.

It transferred these powers to South Africa’s Vodacom after a share swap in 2017, which saw it remain with a five per cent stake, while the South African firm ended up with a 35 per cent stake.

This saw Bob’s contract extended by a year to 2020.


Although the company steered clear on succession, speculations are rife on who will fill in Bob’s big shoes.

Some of the possible names floated around include Sateesh Kamath, current Safaricom's chief financial officer.

Others include Sylvia Mulinge, acting as Safaricom chief customer officer who had been fronted to lead Vodacom Tanzania as CEO but denied a work permit in the East African country.

Joseph Ogutu could also stand the position after standing in for Bob while he was on a nine-month medical leave in late 2017.

“We are in the final selection phase. It just depends on what the caliber of the candidates is, and how and when they can assume duty,” Joseph said.