Why Collymore refused to renew Sh10 million a month Safaricom contract

Bob Collymore.

The head of Kenya’s biggest telecoms firm Safaricom plans to step down in August for health reasons, but the government’s insistence he should be succeeded by a Kenyan has delayed announcing a replacement, two company sources said.

Bob Collymore has helped to build Safaricom into East Africa’s most profitable company, thanks to the popular mobile money transfer service M-Pesa and a growing customer base.

However, he took a nine-month medical leave in late 2017 to return to his native England to battle cancer, and has now indicated he wants to step down, the sources told Reuters.

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“He wants to concentrate on his health so he did not wish to renew his contract,” said one of them, speaking on condition of anonymity as there has been no official announcement.

Collymore told Reuters on Monday he was still in discussions with the board, adding it would make announcements on the chief executive position at a later date.

“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.

During his tenure, Safaricom’s share price has increased by more than 400 percent to 28.00 shillings .He has also led the charge against regulatory efforts to clip the company’s wings due to its dominant size.

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Safaricom, which is 35 percent owned by South Africa’s Vodacom, controls about 62 percent of Kenya’s mobile market, with 30 million subscribers. Britain’s Vodafone has a 5 percent stake and the Kenyan government 35 percent.

Private investors also own shares via the Nairobi bourse.