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Treasury's hand in Michael Joseph new role at Safaricom

Friday July 31 2020
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Newly appointed Safaricom board chairman Michael Joseph. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BRIAN NGUGI

Treasury triggered changes in the board of Safaricom  that saw the State pick the telecom firm’s former chief executive, Michael Joseph, as chairman.

He replaces the long-serving Nicholas Ng’ang’a, who has retired, after chairing the board for 13 years.

Mr Joseph, a dual American-Kenyan national, was Safaricom CEO until 2010 and has been a board member of the company since then.

Mr Ng’ang’a has been chairman since 2007 having joined the board in 2004.

“We have received communication from the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary (Ukur Yatani) nominating Mr Michael Joseph to replace Mr Nicholas Ng’ang’a as well as the Principal Secretary of the ministry (Dr Julius Muia) replacing Ms Esther Koimett,” Mr Ng’ang’a told shareholders yesterday during the firm’s virtual AGM.

“As some of you shareholders may be aware, I have been a member of the board of Safaricom for the last 16 years as a representative nominated by the government of Kenya through the National Treasury.”

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Ms Koimett is the principal secretary, Broadcasting and Telecommunications and joined Safaricom board in 2005 while servings as the investment secretary.

She represented Mr Yatani in the board.

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From left: Safaricom's outgoing chairman Nicholas Ng'ang'a, chief executive officer Peter Ndegwa and newly appointed board chairman Michael Joseph at the firm's first virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) on July 30, 2020. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The government owns 35 percent of Safaricom, South Africa’s Vodacom (35 percent) and Vodafone (five percent). But Vodacom is part of Britain’s Vodafone Group.

"Michael is not a stranger to the Safaricom family... and joins with a mandate to improve customer sentiment, greater brand consideration and to bolster our digital transformation agenda," said Safaricom chief executive Peter Ndegwa.

"I look forward to continue working with Michael in his new role."

Mr Ndegwa took the helm of Safaricom in April 1 following the death of long-time head Bob Collymore.

Reuters news agency reports that the board changes is part of a shareholder deal reached last year.

Under it the government, won the right to pick a Kenyan as CEO, while the other major shareholder, Vodacom, got to pick the chairman, according to Reuters.

Mr Ndegwa, a Kenyan national, took over as chief executive in April, joining from Diageo, where he was the managing director of continental Europe.

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