Bob Collymore, the chief executive Safaricom has died at the age of 61 after a nearly two-years battle with cancer.
“It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing away of Robert William Collymore, CEO of Safaricom Plc, which occurred at his home in the morning of 1st July 2019,” the firm said in a statement.
Collymore was to step down as the telco‘s CEO in August, but the appointment of his successor was delayed as the Kenyan government, which owns 35% of the company, insisted that a ‘local’ is picked to succeed him, complicating the hiring process.
The board is however reported to be discussing Collymore succession,
“The board was aware that sooner or later we needed to organize succession for Bob,” Safaricom Board Chairman Nicholas Nganga said during a press conference.”
“We will be giving a way forward hopefully later today or in the next 24 hours.”
Standard Media, reports that Nganga held back tears as he spoke about Collymore — describing him as selfless and dedicated even while he battled leukaemia.
Kenya’s President, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, said in a statement posted on the Kenyan State House Twitter account, “It is with deep sadness that I have this morning received news of the death of Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore after years of battling cancer. As a country, we’ve lost a distinguished corporate leader whose contribution to our national wellbeing will be missed.”
The Former Prime Minister of Kenya; H.E Raila Odinga also took to his Twitter account to share his condolences, said; “My condolences go out to the friends and family of Mr. Bob Collymore as well as the entire Safaricom fraternity. Bob served our country with dedication and sustained us as a communication hub in Africa. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”
Mourning his death, the telco has changed its logo to a shade of grey from its normal green, white and red colors — on its social media accounts; Twitter and Facebook.
Collymore has been at the company for nine years, overseeing an increase of nearly 500% in its share value thanks to M-Pesa; popular mobile money transfer service in the country, and a growing customer base.
According to Reuters, Safaricom shares fell 2.7% at the start of trading on Monday before paring the losses to trade 1.4% down in mid-morning.
Analysts claim, Collymore’s successor will face the threat of regulatory intervention to seek to increase competition in the sector.
“At least in the interim they need someone who will be able to continue the conversation with the government around regulation issues because that is the key risk,” said Mbithe Muema, a financial analyst at Infallible Group in Nairobi.