MTN appoints Safaricom's Sylvia Mulinge as Uganda CEO


Safaricom Chief Customer Business Officer Sylvia Mulinge. PHOTO | NMG

MTN Uganda has appointed Sylvia Mulinge –currently the head of consumer business at Safaricom— as its new chief executive starting September 1.

The move marks Ms Mulinge’s successful jump to the CEO’s post after her appointment to lead Vodacom Tanzania in 2018 was thwarted by Tanzanian authorities who refused to issue her with a work permit.

MTN Uganda, which has been rolling out services similar to those pioneered by Safaricom, will be relying on her extensive experience to grow the business.

“Sylvia Mulinge becomes MTN Uganda CEO, joining from Safaricom, where she served as Chief Consumer Business Officer for the Group. A seasoned executive, she brings with her a passion for transforming customers’ lives using technology,” South Africa’s MTN Group said.

“Mulinge replaces Wim Vanhelleputte, who will take on the new MTN Group role of Operations Executive: Markets.”

Ms Mulinge was among three CEOs that the multinational has appointed for its various markets effective the same date.

She is among a group of long-serving Safaricom executives who have steered the company that grew to become the largest in the region by sales, earnings, and market value.

Starting with voice and SMS as its core business lines, the telco has diversified into various segments including mobile money which now leads in terms of revenue.

Other high-profile executives who have left Safaricom recently include Joe Ogutu who retired after 17 years with the company.

Read: Safaricom boss retires after 17-year stint

Ms Mulinge joined Safaricom in 2006, rising through the ranks to chief customer officer in 2018. She took her current role in July 2021.

“She was instrumental in setting up two key businesses in Safaricom; Enterprise and Fixed Data,” Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said, announcing her exit on Thursday.

MTN Uganda was listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange last year through an initial public offering that saw its South African parent firm sell a 12.96 percent stake against the target of 20 percent.

The transaction was done to comply with local ownership rules.

MTN Uganda’s net income for the year ended December increased 5.8 percent to Sh10.8 billion, helped by a 9.7 percent jump in total revenue to Sh65.3 billion.

The company says the earnings would have been higher under normal trading conditions, noting that it paid a total of $17.1 million (Sh2 billion) in license fees and costs of terminating a services agreement with Invesco Uganda Limited.

MTN Uganda saw its customer numbers rise 10.7 percent to 15.7 million, with active data subscribers jumping 16 percent to 5.3 million.