Safaricom appoints its former CEO Michael Joseph as the new board Chairman

KENYASafaricom, Kenya’s largest telco, has appointed Michael Joseph as the new board Chairman ending the 13-year reign of Nicholas Ng’ang’a, who has served as the telco’s Chairman and non-executive director since 2007.

Safaricom chief executive officer Peter Ndegwa said Joseph takes over from August 1, 2020 with a mandate to ‘improve customer sentiment, greater brand consideration and to bolster the firm’s digital transformation agenda.’

“He brings a wealth of skills and industry knowledge given his contribution to the growth of Safaricom from very humble beginnings to becoming one of the most innovative, influential and profitable companies in the East African region,” Ndegwa said in a statement.

The chairman is responsible for the operation, leadership and governance of the Board, ensuring its effectiveness and setting its agenda.

Michael Joseph is the former Chief Executive officer of Safaricom PLC, a position held from July 2, 2019 to March 31, 2020.

He joined the board on September 8, 2008. Joseph is employed by Vodafone Group Services Limited as the Director of Mobile Money.

He is also Vodafone’s Strategic Advisor appointed to the Boards of Vodacom Group South Africa, Vodacom Tanzania and Vodacom Mozambique. He is also the Chairman of Kenya Airways.

Previously, Michael was the CEO of Safaricom Limited from July 2000 when the company was re-launched as a joint-venture between Vodafone UK and Telkom Kenya until his retirement in November 2010.

During his tenure, he steered the company from a subscriber base of less than 20,000 to over 16.71 million subscribers.

This phenomenal growth straddling nearly a decade was motored by the launch of many innovative products and services such as M-Pesa.

It was under his leadership that Safaricom launched the revolutionary mobile money platform which has become the biggest and the most successful mobile money service in the world.

Today, Safaricom is one of the leading companies in East Africa and one of the most profitable companies in the region.

He also has an Honorary Doctorate degree (Doctor of Letters) from Africa Nazarene University, bestowed to him in recognition of his contribution to the growth of Safaricom from very humble beginnings to becoming one of the most innovative, influential and profitable company in the East African region.

In addition, he has extensive international experience in company start-ups, the implementation and operation of large wireless and wire-line networks, including operations in Hungary, Spain, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Korea, the USA, Australia and the Middle East.

On his part, Mr Ng’ang’a joined the Safaricom board on May 6, 2004 and was elected Chairman on January 16, 2007. It was under his leadership that Safaricom has grown to become east Africa’s most profitable company.

Mr Ng’ang’a, a brilliant boardroom titan, holds a BA degree from Makerere University and served as the Permanent Secretary for the Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Health.

As chairman, he has helped Safaricom navigate political and regulatory challenges with the most recent being the dominance debate.

“He has steered the company through various milestones over the 13 years he was at the helm. During his tenure as chairman. Mr Nganga has been instrumental for the monumental growth that the telco has experienced,” Mr Ndegwa said.

Mr Ng’ang’a took up the leadership reins at a time when the government was starting the process of offering 25 percent of its shares to the public through the Nairobi Securities Exchange in 2008.

Safaricom says he has managed to grow shareholder value by 607 percent since listing.  Safaricom’s market capitalisation is worth 50 percent of all the listed firms on the NSE.

“At the time of his appointment as Chairman, Safaricom had slightly over 6 million customers, 1,000 employees and only 8 Safaricom shops across the country. Mr Ng’ang’a retires from the telco that now serves over 35.6 million customers, across 50 shops and hundreds of service desks across the country, with a staff force of over 6,500 employees,” Mr Ndegwa said, adding that he led the board in overseeing the rapid network development in the country.

In his last financial year as chairman, Safaricom announced investment of Sh36billion to expand its network coverage. He is also credited with ensuring diversity and inclusion at Safaricom.

“This commitment has seen the staff gender distribution stand at 51percent women and 49 percent men whilst in management we have 35percent women and 65percent men. On inclusion, we have 131 staff with various disabilities representing about 2.4 percent of the staff population.”   

In addition, he chaired the Tea Board of Kenya and the National Bank of Kenya. He has also served as the Chairman of G4S Security and Car & General Kenya and was a member of the Board of Kakuzi Limited.

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