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Changes ringing at Safaricom

NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 11 – Kenya\’s most profitable company Safaricom is set to undergo a transformation in management style, when the new Chief Executive Officer takes over.

Bob Collymore, who is set to replace Michael Joseph at the helm of Safaricom next month, says he intends to introduce a new management style focusing on innovation to strengthen the Safaricom brand in the wake of heated competition.

The firm\’s focus on the mass market and value added services has seen it grow from a scrappy entity in 2000 to command over 75 percent of the mobile market share at present.

"The company has run pretty fast and that\’s what has got us this far because we are a huge innovation engine. We are going to keep the pace up; it\’s just the tone that is going to be different since Michael and I have a different style," Mr Collymore said.

The 52-year-old, who has served on Safaricom\’s board of directors for the past four years, said he would be more collaborative engaging all Safaricom stakeholders in sustaining its market leadership.

"I will work more closely with all the people who make a contribution to this company be it customers, business partners or government to keep this company a strong player. The only people I am not going to work with are my competition," he said.

He takes over the reins at Safaricom at a time it is experiencing a slight erosion of its customer base in the wake of a vicious price war.

The new CEO however said he does not intend to get caught up in the current price war that has gripped the mobile market but instead leverage on the company\’s large customer base and early investments in data to outpace the competition.

"If I chase a price war I will not be able to deliver the value for our customers and balance it out with shareholder expectations. I can\’t afford to compromise that while chasing after competitors who are not necessarily delivering for Kenyan shareholders," he said.

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With the changing business paradigm in the mobile industry towards data services and the planned implementation of number portability, the new CEO is expected to face numerous challenges.

"We have to make up for the loss in the voice market and that is why we started investing in data even when competitors thought the market was not ready for it," he said.

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