In Summary
  • Mr Michael Joseph says he insisted on Collymore taking over from him because he was consultative and patient.
  • Mr Joseph says Collymore, despite not being the front-runner, understood the 'DNA' of Safaricom was best suited to succeed him.
  • However, Mr Joseph says Collymore had had a hard time in his first two years at the helm but later managed to steer the ship.

Safaricom’s founding chief executive officer Michael Joseph personally campaigned to have Bob Collymore succeed him in 2010 despite the latter not being the front-runner.

Mr Joseph told a gathering in Nairobi last year that being the “dictator” that he is, his ideal successor had to be a consultative individual to lead the telecommunications firm to the next phase — one of the reasons why he thought Mr Collymore would be the best pick.

“Quite frankly, my personality, my character, my lack of democracy, my dictatorship style of management was suited to a start-up and growth company. It wasn’t really suited to this mammoth that we have now. We have to consult and we have to agree; be nice to everybody,” said Mr Joseph, admitting that seeking consensus is “not my style.”

Mr Joseph was speaking at an event to celebrate 18 years of Safaricom on October 25, 2018, which Mr Collymore had not attended as he was away receiving medication.

“He’s very patient. I’m not patient at all,” Mr Joseph said of Mr Collymore, who died on Monday aged 61. His remains will be interred at a private ceremony on Tuesday.


At the October 2018 event, Mr Joseph revealed the long search for the next CEO of Safaricom, a company that is partly owned by London-based telecommunications conglomerate Vodafone, the government of Kenya and shareholders.

“We had gone on a worldwide search for a replacement for me. Actually, the search had started two years beforehand and we’d gone round and we’d done a shortlist,” he told the gathering that included journalists and other players in the technology space.

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