BOB COLLYMORE; VISIONARY AND EXCEPTIONAL TRAILBLAZER BEQUEST
The Late Safaricom CEO, Collymore assumed the helm of the current biggest telco company in East Africa in November 2010 and was still in charge at the time of his death.
During his tenure, the company continued its dominance of the country’s mobile sector and expanded the scope of its M-Pesa mobile money product, widely accepted as one of the pioneering and most successful deployments of mobile financial services in the world.
The executive took a number of months of medical leave at the turn of 2018, but earlier this year extended his contract to 2020 having been initially expected to leave the post in August.
Following the sad announcement today morning; officials, colleagues and rival operators offered tributes. His burial has been scheduled for Tuesday 2nd July 2019 in a ceremony only open to family members with a public memorial service later in the week.
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta described him as a “visionary and exceptional leader”. Telekom Kenya CEO Mugo Kibati added Collymore was a “steadfast colleague, visionary and mentor whose foresight earned Kenya’s telco industry a place on the global map.”
According to Mr. Ng’ang’a Nicholas, Safaricom Board Chairman, the rest of the company’s PLC board members are set to meet within the next 24hours to find the way forward. So far there is no news of the next CEO as the Board was fully behind the management left behind by Collymore until such a time that they would announce his successor.
Despite having rocky start, Collymore turned the start into a year on year growth for Kenya’s largest telco operator ending in the first special dividend payout in the year ending March 31st 2019.
Taking a walk down memory lane, in 2011, Safaricom recorded a 13.1 percent dip in net profit to Ksh.13.2 billion in what was reported as a result of increased operating expenses and increased impairment losses.
In spite of the rare dip in earnings by Safaricom, Collymore who had only taken office officially in November 2010, took pride in the firm’s innovation backing the diversification trend to steer the company back to the profit-making line.
“M-Pesa continues to show significant growth with registered customers increasing by 46% to almost 14 million. The investment in data services, principally 3G, fibre and Wimax, saw the number of mobile data customers increase by over 85 percent to 4.90 million,” Collymore told investors.
Shareholder payout that year had further taken a hit having stagnated from the previous year at Ksh.8 billion.
Nearly a decade on, and the dip was mere blimp on Collymore and Safaricom’s radar – having overseen year on year growth to end in Safaricom’s first special dividend payout valued at Ksh.24.8 billion.
This came on the back of a record breaking Ksh.63.4 billion net profit and an accompanying improved basic dividend payout to shareholders totaling Ksh.50 billion.
Bob Collymore however was gracious in the record setting run, describing the success as pain-staking rather than automatic, under increasingly weighty expectations.
“Getting there isn’t nearly as difficult as staying in it. First, you have to capture the right kind of affection and then you have to persuade the subject of affection that they made the right decision. This becomes the difficult part as once the person accepts your advances; you then have to constantly find ways to keep them interested. I would say this is where we are as a company at this moment,” Bob Collymore said during his last investor briefing on May 3, 2019.
It remains to be seen where the tide of his succession turns as the battle to succeed him begins. Pressure will lie with the new appointee who will have the unenviable role of equaling or eclipsing his/her predecessor, the corporate titan that was Bob Collymore.