History as Kenyans take full control of Safaricom

For the first time, Safaricom has locals at the helm of its leadership after John Ngumi was appointed the company’s board chairman, replacing Michael Joseph who served in the role for two years.

The appointment of Mr Ngumi, a seasoned director at private and public enterprises, was announced to Safaricom shareholders during the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) yesterday. The appointment takes effect on August 1, 2022.

Mr Ngumi will be joining Peter Ndegwa, another Kenyan, who was appointed the Safaricom chief executive officer in April 2020–marking the first time that the position and chairman will be held by Kenyans concurrently.

The slots have always been occupied by a mix of a foreigner and a local due to the influence of foreign-based major shareholders.

During the AGM yesterday, Mr Joseph told shareholders he decided to step down as chairman and pass the baton to Mr Ngumi, saying he believed the latter was experienced enough to run the company going forward.

“Strategic direction for the company has been clearly set and approved by the board and John Ngumi is a highly experienced person who has been closely allied with Safaricom since its inception, including arranging our first financial bond, and has been staying close to Safaricom,” Mr Joseph said.

He said he had successfully witnessed a transition at the company since Mr Ndegwa assumed the role nearly two-and-a-half years ago.

“I will of course assist in the transition but I am very confident that John is the right chairman for the company to take us into the future. Obviously, this is not an easy step for me. I have been involved with Safaricom for over 22 years but I will remain involved with Safaricom for as long as I possibly can and as long as I am allowed to be involved,” said Joseph.

Mr Ndegwa said Mr Ngumi is “a seasoned director having drawn his experience in both private and State-owned enterprises,” observing that he served as the inaugural board chairman at Konza Technopolis Development Authority and is currently as board chairman at Kenya Pipeline Company Limited.

Mr Ngumi and Mr Ndegwa are now expected to lead the company going forward, including in executing its strategic investments such as expansion to Ethiopia and innovation of new services.

The company yesterday said it continued to accelerate its focus on new growth areas and was seeking partnerships to build its in-house technology talent.

Mr Ndegwa said the company was in consultation with the Ethiopian government, to implement mobile money business in the country.

“Our dividend policy will remain 80 per cent of distributable profits and will not be affected by the Ethiopian investment. We are making a lot of progress in preparing ourselves for launch later 2022,” he said.

The company in the year to March 2022 reported a Sh69.65 billion profits, declaring a Sh0.75 dividend per share at the AGM yesterday.

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