In a fascinating development very close to the launch of its new venture in Ethiopia, Kenya’s Safaricom has announced that current chairman of the board Michael Joseph has stepped down to lead the company’s Ethiopian campaign.
John Ngumi, who has served on the board of directors in a number of private companies and SOEs, is to replace Joseph.
Joseph is undoubtedly one of Safaricom’s heavy hitters. He was founder CEO from July 2000 to November 2010, overseeing enormous mobile finance-led growth that made Safaricom the most successful company in East Africa; it’s still the overwhelmingly dominant operator in the Kenyan market.
Joseph again became acting CEO from July 2019 to March 2020, following the death of Bob Collymore. He was appointed to chair the Safaricom board in August 2020.
Joseph released a statement which reads: “I want to devote more time to supporting Safaricom’s investment in Ethiopia and relinquishing the role of chairman allows me the flexibility and freedom to undertake this important role on behalf of Safaricom.” He intends to remain as a director on the board and will also devote time to his post as chairman of Kenya Airways.
Joseph has said that he has worked closely with CEO Peter Ndegwa as part of the transition. However, it’s not clear what Joseph will be doing or indeed what title he will hold with Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia, which, we reported in early July, has announced that it will begin a phased commercial launch this month after missing its original April 2022 start date.