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Safaricom CEO Ndegwa takes the reins virtually

Peter Ndegwa
Incoming Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Safaricom’s #ticker:SCOM new chief executive Peter Ndegwa is working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has derailed physical handover of reins at Kenya’s most profitable firm.

Mr Ndegwa who started work on Wednesday participated in a virtual electronic handover from the acting chief executive, Michael Joseph, who now returns to board as director.

"It will be different as it will all be online in the beginning," acting Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph told the Business Daily in an interview ahead of the executive change.

"Yes we are all working from home whenever possible … He will join all meetings by video and will participate as such," said Mr Joseph.

Most companies have asked workers to work from home in the quest for social distancing that is being used to curb the spread of coronavirus.

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Kenya has so far confirmed 110 cases of Covid-19 disease and its critical tourism and farm export businesses have particularly been feeling the pinch from the economic impact of the outbreak.

The State has imposed restrictions including cancellation all flights save for cargo planes, ordered shutdown of bars and nightclubs, restaurants to operate as takeaway units, put a freeze to churches, weddings and capped funeral gatherings to 15 people.

Safaricom tapped Mr Ndegwa in October after the death of long-time head Bob Collymore. Safaricom has been led since July by Mr Joseph.

Mr Joseph, who is also the chairman of national carrier, Kenya Airways, said he would remain on the Safaricom board after stepping down from the interim role. "Yes I will remain on the Board," Mr Joseph said in interview.

Mr Ndegwa told the Business Daily Wednesday that his strategy will hinge on M-Pesa and deepening the data business.

M-Pesa has emerged as Safaricom profits and sales driver in recent years in the face of sluggish growth in voice revenues where the firm has been shedding market share to top rival, Airtel Kenya.

"Safaricom is more than just a telecommunications company. Voice is saturated but it’s what is happening everywhere in the world. Best companies renew themselves," he said.

He added there are still great opportunities in data, M-Pesa and geographical expansion at a time when Safaricom has announced plan to enter Ethiopia.

M-Pesa revenue jumped 19.2 percent to account for 31.2 percent of the company’s revenue of Sh240.3 billion.

It accounted for just 23.3 percent of annual revenue three years earlier and the firm is betting it is likely to account for more than half of revenue soon.

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