Lawyer Adil Khawaja replaces Uhuru ally as Safaricom chair

Lawyer Adil Khawaja has been appointed chair of the board of Safaricom. FILE PHOTO | POOL

The board of Safaricom has named Adil Khawaja as its new chairman following the exit of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ally, John Ngumi.

Mr Khawaja’s election as chairman comes slightly over a month after he joined Safaricom as a director in a board shake-up seen to align the firm with the new administration.

Safaricom announced his election on Thursday in a statement signed by CEO Peter Ndegwa.

He has previously served on the boards of other top Kenyan firms, including Kenya Power and KCB.

Among the projects he will help shepherd at Safaricom, which is the most profitable company in East Africa, is the scaling up of operations in neighbouring Ethiopia, after the launch of its network there last year.

The changes cut shot the reign of Mr Ngumi, who was one of the favourite board appointees to cash-rich parastatals during the Uhuru administration.

Mr Ngumi was seen as a blue-eyed boy in the Uhuru administration, which handed him chairman positions in, among others, the Industrial & Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC), which was in charge of the Kenya Transport & Logistics Network that had Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Pipeline Company Limited and Kenya Railways Corporation.

He also served on the board of Kenya Airways.

Safaricom’s net profit for the six months ended September fell by 10 percent to Sh33.5 billion on the impact of a cut on the mobile termination rate (MTR) and higher costs associated with the entry into Ethiopia.

Total revenue rose by 4.6 percent to Sh153.4 billion in the period, helped by an 8.7 percent increase in M- Pesa revenue to Sh56.9 billion, and an 11.3 percent jump in data earnings to Sh26.3 billion.

Voice revenue fell by 3.8 percent to Sh39.9 billion, while total costs rose by a third to Sh31 billion, largely on the back of the firm’s investment in its new Ethiopia subsidiary.

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