Unusual. First, there was a slight delay. Safaricom Chief Executive Bob Collymore was obviously absent at Michael Joseph Centre. But the absence of Chairman Nicholas Ng’ang’a was unforeseen.
The Director of Corporate Affairs Stephen Chege announced that the chairman was stuck in a traffic jam. But the briefing had to go on considering that the results must be announced before the opening of the stock market at 9am. And this meant a makeshift arrangement to set the ball rolling.
“So I am plan B. I don’t’ like being plan B, particularly for this company,” explained former CEO and now board member Michael Joseph, as he was ushered on stage to read the chairman’s speech.
“I don’t know how to read speeches. This is a new one for me.”
But once he was done, he left the stage, urging the audience to turn to the screen for the 'main' performance. This ushered in a video from the CEO Collymore as the chairman walked into the room.
A well-groomed Collymore, dressed in a light blue suit, appeared on the screen in a recorded video, welcoming everyone to the 2018 investor briefing.
“I have been away from the office for medical treatment since October last year. I have been very fortunate to have a great team of medical specialists attending to me since I came to London,” he said.
“As you can see, I am making good progress. I just turned to my final phase of treatment and I expect to be back in Nairobi as soon as doctors feel that my immune system is sufficiently robust to withstand infection risks that are usually associated with airline cargo.”
Mr Collymore, looking fit despite the lengthy medical leave of absence, was optimistic that the company’s growth will be sustained, helped by the broad product offering.
His presence, albeit via video conferencing, would inspire confidence among shareholders who may have been left guessing on whether he was on his way out of Safaricom’scorner office.
It is specifically so because Collymore has been in control of the giant telco in its best years so far; in a period when rivals staged the fiercest threat at its market leadership – including unprecedented price wars.
It is also the period when the company's stock market value rose fastest after overcoming initial concerns that informed calls to consolidate the shares because they had flooded the market.
As he spoke in a reassuring voice, the audience followed as he explained the performance of the company and the plans the firm has in store for the current financial year.
“It is very difficult to say exactly when that will be but close monitoring from my medical team here in London will continue for a number of weeks to come,” said Collymore.
He thanked everyone for messages of goodwill and prayers and said he looked forward to being back in Nairobi soon.
“I went for medical leave knowing that I leave behind a strong executive team. Since January, I have been working closely with this team,” he explained through the video that lasted almost five minutes.