Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore is set to step down this August at the end of his contract. Collymore has been head at Safaricom since 2010, when he took over from Michael Joseph.
Health reasons are believed to have guided his decision, coming less than a year after he returned from a 9-month medical leave. He has been battling cancer.
“He wants to concentrate on his health so he did not wish to renew his contract,” one unidentified source told Reuters.
It is reported that Kenya’s government insistent that he should be succeed by a Kenyan has delayed the announcement.
Speaking to Reuters, Collymore said that he is still in discussions with the board, and that the announcement would be made at an appropriate time. “I have every confidence that whether I’m here or not, that this company will run … This is an institution. It is not a company which is just ran by a single person,” he said.
The Guyana-born CEO has guided Safaricom to become the most profitable company in East and Central Africa. Despite losing market share to rivals Airtel and Telkom in recent years, Safaricom still holds 62% of the market, with about 30 million subscribers.
During his time at the helm, Safaricom’s share price has quadrupled.
According to Reuters, the board had interviewed a senior Kenyan banking executive, before settling on an unidentified foreign national from within Vodafone, the same organization that seconded Collymore. Vodafone through South Africa’s Vodacom, owns 35% of Safaricom.
The government has however objected to that decision, citing a 2017 shareholder meeting that supported the appointment of a Kenyan. “The state has said ‘no’. They might have to negotiate,” the confidential source continued.
ICT secretary Joe Mucheru also supported this thinking.
“I would be very surprised if they can’t find a Kenyan. It will be hard for them to justify, what is so special about telecoms?” Mucheru told Reuters.
The outgoing CEO however revealed that he is actually Kenyan, having acquired a Kenyan citizenship to have dual-nationality. He also married a Kenyan woman in 2016.