Bob Collymore is indeed one of the most well revered and looked up to CEOs in Africa. He is at the helm of Safaricom, the leading mobile service carrier in Kenya, which is also the pioneer of mobile money not just on the continent but the world over.
Well, Collymore tenure is Safaricom is soon coming to its end. The curtains are certainly drawing on his almost decade long career at the telecom company. His contract was supposed to have ended back in 2015 but was further extended by another two years. Come 2017, it was again extended by another two years.
During his second extension, Collymore went on health leave, which left the telecom with an acting CEO for a couple of months. That second extension is reported to be up by August 2019, and it looks like there will be no further extensions. It is believed Collymore will now want to retire because of health reasons.
There are reports that the government of Kenya is routing for a local to head the telco as Collymore’s replacement. If that happens, it will be the first time in the history of Kenya, that a Kenyan is heading one of the most successful companies in Africa.
It is interesting to note that up to until recently, all the telcos in Kenya were headed by foreigners. Airtel Kenya CEO was sourced from India, the home country of its mother company Bharti Airtel. Just recently, Telkom Kenya replaced its old CEO with a local one, but all along the CEOs have been foreigners.
There are reports that a prominent local banking executive has already been interviewed by Safaricom board. It is possible that the board let go of the said executive, in favor of a foreigner, but this news is yet to be confirmed. As the government of Kenya has come out to dispute this report.
Apparently, the Kenyan government and Safaricom entered into a deal back in 2017. Now the government is pushing for that deal to pull through. Joe Mucheru, the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Information, Communication, and Technology was quoted by a section of media saying:
“I would be very surprised if they can’t find a Kenya. It will be hard for them to justify, what is so special about telecoms?”