Telecommunication giant Safaricom PLC board is divided on the planned renewal of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Ndegwa’s tenure, a trained economist with over 25 years of vast knowledge in financial services and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG).
According to internal sources who spoke to The Informer Media Group, one faction of the board is angling to have a new CEO recruited altogether while the other faction is inclined to have someone with financial background, just like Ndegwa to assume the all influential office.
The latter’s consideration comes at a time there is a push to have Safaricom separate its communication services from the financial services to abide by the Banking Act just like the commercial banks.
It is on this premise the board is said to be considering Stanbic Bank CEO and former Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Joshua Oigara as a likely successor to Ndegwa.
Oigara is also said to be enjoying the all important political backing critical for a multinational whose infrastructure is supporting a vast deal of various services offered to the public by both government and private entities.
Ndegwa joined Safaricom on April 1, 2020 for a three-year renewable term which elapses in less than a month.
The firm’s top management has however remained quiet on the CEO’s contract extension which is believed to be decided basically by key investors who are keen on Ndegwa’s fate before channeling their revenues into the telco.
The government and other two-major foreign shareholders; Britain’s Vodafone and South Africa’s Vodacom through the board are said to be key determinants on whether to renew or decide who takes over the mantle at the helm of the leading communication firm in the region.
So far, the government has 35 percent of shares while the two foreign firms have a combined 40 percent share in the telco which makes them sole decision makers on who takes over the top seat at the telco firm.
Safaricom has in the recent days witnessed key changes both at the senior management and board levels which are likely to persist.
Ndegwa was picked to succeed Michael Joseph who had assumed the Chief Executive’s role in an acting capacity after the demise of Bob Collymore who succumbed to cancer in July 2019.
The CEO while addressing speculations on his job security, defended his three year leadership which came at a time the country was battling the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the decision about his future lies in the hands of the board with reports that he could be pushed out as President William Ruto’s government sought to align the mobile service provider to the Kenya Kwanza agenda.
“We are a company that has served the country, kept the country connected, and now we’re converting ourselves into a purpose-led technology company…. There is social media speculation, you know when you run a business of the size of Safaricom, just like a football team, there will always be views about what is happening to the manager, the captain and so on… But, from where I stand, the decisions about my role are usually for the board, and now that we have a new Chairman I’m sure it is a question that can be asked both to the Board and the Chairman,” said Ndegwa.
The CEO believes that his impactful strides remain focused until a decision is made.
He outlined some of the achievements among them the company’s grand entrance into the Ethiopian market and the launch of the 5G network.
“I plan to continue playing the role that I’ve played for the future because the management is focused on ensuring that this business continues to transform lives and play its role in Kenya. I will continue to lead this business to the future…. We have run the company very well,” Ndegwa stated.