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Safaricom, the leading telecom juggernaut in East Africa has appointed Peter Ndegwa as chief executive following the death of Bob Collymore. The Kenyan government, which owns 35% of Safaricom, had insisted that a local be picked to succeed Collymore.

However, Safaricom dismissed claims that it gave in to demands and pressure to have a Kenyan run the company.

Interim Chief Executive Officer Michael Joseph said the newly appointed CEO Peter Ndegwa was given the chance as a way of a natural progression rather than giving in to demands.

Joseph told Citizen TV: “I wouldn’t say we gave in to demands but because it is the right thing to do especially after 19 years of Safaricom. By now a Kenyan should run the company”.

On Mr Ndegwa’s appointment, a statement from the board says he joins the Safaricom from Diageo PLC where he is the Managing Director of Diageo Continental Europe.

According to the statement, “Peter oversees the operations of Diageo PLC in 50 countries in Western and Eastern Europe, Russia, Middle East and North Africa region. He had previously served for seven years as CEO in Guinness Nigeria PLC and Guinness Ghana Breweries PLC, where he transformed the two operations to deliver a double-digit growth by investing in people, introducing new brands and reorganising the businesses.”

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Ndegwa’s appointment becomes effective on April 1, 2020, said Safaricom which has been led by former chief executive Michael Joseph on an interim basis since Collymore’s death in July.

Safaricom controls about 62% of Kenya’s mobile market, with 30 million subscribers. The company, 35% owned by South Africa’s Vodacom and 5% by Britain’s Vodafone, grew under Collymore’s leadership into East Africa’s most profitable company with an $11 billion valuation.

He began his career in the drinks industry at Kenya’s East African Breweries (EABL), spending nearly eight years there and rising to the position of group finance director. The brewer is controlled by Diageo.

Before joining EABL he worked for 11 years at accounting firm PwC. He has an MBA from the London Business School having studied economics at the University of Nairobi.

Musa Suleiman
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