In Summary
  • Mr Joseph sits on the Safaricom board and is also the current chairman of Kenya Airways.
  • Collymore took over from Mr Joseph in November 2010.

Safaricom has turned to tried and tested hands to steer the telecommunications firm in wake of the death of its chief executive officer Bob Collymore on Monday, July 1.

In a special meeting of the directors held on Monday, the board picked the telecom's former boss Michael Joseph to lead in an interim capacity with immediate effect.

"Mr Joseph will hold this position until the board communicates in due course, on a permanent appointment," Safaricom said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mr Joseph sits on the Safaricom board and is also the current chairman of Kenya Airways.

Collymore took over from Mr Joseph in November 2010.

Mr Joseph retired from Safaricom in 2010 after overseeing the telco's growth from a scrappy mobile operator to a market leader.

He was known as a hands-on hardworking micro-manager who was arguably the CEO of the early 2000s, helping the firm grow from 15,000 subscribers in 2000 to over 15 million.

Even though investors were at first skittish about his successor, Collymore exhibited the same Midas touch. Everything he touched, turned to gold.

By 2018, Collymore had grown Safaricom's annual revenue three-fold from Sh81 billion recorded in 2009 to ShSh251 billion in the financial year ended March.

Such a feat makes Safaricom one the most profitable firms in the East African region.

In the nearly one decade Collymore was at the helm, subscribers doubled to 31.8 million.

With such stellar chief executives, the board's focus now turns to finding a manager who will fit into the duo's shoes or go one better than them.

In April this year, Reuters reported that jostling for the top position had already erupted, claiming that the Kenyan government was insisting on having a Kenyan succeed Collymore.

But Safaricom's Board Chairman Nicholas Nganga denied the reports, saying the board had not deliberated on the issue.However, the board responded by extending Collymore's tenure by 12 months.