End of an era as Michael Joseph resigns from Safaricom board

Michael Joseph. The long-serving executive was credited with some of Safaricom’s most significant milestones. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Michael Joseph has resigned from the board of Safaricom after more than 15 years in the boardroom of the telecommunications firm.

The exit of Mr Joseph, the last of the founding Safaricom board executives, marks the end of an era for East Africa’s most profitable company with a new leadership crop expected to steer the telco’s next growth phase.

“The board announces the resignation of Mr Michael Joseph as a director in the board of Safaricom Plc, with effect from August 1, 2023,” said the company in a statement.

“Michael leaves the board to focus on other ventures in his life including continuing his role as chairman of Kenya Airways and being a director in various organisations.”

Mr Joseph has worked at Safaricom in various capacities since 2000, including as general manager, director and two terms each serving as CEO and board chairman. He was at the helm of Safaricom during key turning points, including the 2007 initial public offering (IPO) that saw the company debut at the Nairobi Securities Exchange trading at Sh2.25 per share.

“During his tenure, Michael oversaw the highly successful launch and phenomenal growth of M-Pesa and its related services,” said Safaricom’s board.

“He also was behind the launch of both the Safaricom and M-Pesa foundations, which have supported many projects throughout Kenya. He, together with the late Bob Collymore, launched the highly successful M-Pesa Foundation Academy.”

Joseph also served as the chair of the company’s investment, nominations, remunerations and governance committee.

His resignation comes three years after the exit of Nicholas Nganga, Safaricom’s long-serving chairman who held the position since 2007.

With the exits, Mohamed Joosub and Rose Ogenga now remain the longest-serving board members of Safaricom.

Mr Joosub is the CEO of Vodacom Group and was appointed as a non-executive member of the board in 2017 while Ms Ogenga was named an independent director in 2019.

This is the latest in a string of appointments and resignations in the boardroom of Safaricom in the last year that has seen a new crop of executives take the wheel.

In the last financial year alone, seven board members have exited the company, including former board chairman John Ngumi who went on record as the shortest-serving chairman in Safaricom’s history.

In February, Bitange Ndemo and Linda Muriuki resigned their positions as independent director and non-executive director respectively, following hot on the heels of Stanley Kamau and Christopher Kirigua who served as the alternate directors to the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary.

Earlier this year, Ory Okolloh and Karen Kandie were appointed as independent director and alternate director to the CS respectively.

Considered by industry insiders as the ‘father’ of Safaricom, Joseph’s exit will likely be felt across the sector. 

He has been perceived to adopt a stern, more hands-on approach to the daily running of Safaricom and his demeanour has been credited with getting the company through some of the toughest fights with government regulators and the competition.

Data from the company’s latest financial report indicates that Safaricom made Sh109 billion in profit after tax for the financial year ended March 2023, with revenues standing at Sh295 billion, including Sh340 million in income from the latest Ethiopian subsidiary.

Premium More pain for borrowers as big banks pass on interest rate hike
Ruto challenges youth to be part of change in Africa
Premium Bank bosses face sanctions for forex manipulation in probe
Premium EACC goes after Uhuru men over botched Sh6 billion Telkom sale