Kenyans have taken to social media to eulogise Safaricom’s Chief Executive Officer Bob William Collymore, who the company said died after a nearly two-year long battle with cancer.
“It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing away of Robert (Bob) William Collymore, CEO of Safaricom Plc, which occurred at his home in the morning of 1st July 2019,” the firm said in a statement.
In May, Collymore, 61, had said he would stay in his position for an extra year. He was set to step down in August after nine years at the helm, during which time Safaricom’s share price rose by more than 400 per cent.
The appointment of his successor was delayed as the Kenyan government, which owns 35 per cent of the company, has insisted that a local is picked to succeed him.
Collymore had travelled to Britain in October 2017 and received treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia, and he had since been undergoing treatment for the same condition, the company said.
“In recent weeks, his condition worsened and he succumbed to the cancer at his home in the early hours of Monday…,” it added.
A legacy of leadership
Safaricom, which is 35 per cent owned by South Africa’s Vodacom , is the country’s biggest telecom company, controlling about 62 per cent of Kenya’s mobile market, with 30 million subscribers. Britain’s Vodafone has a 5 per cent stake and the Kenyan government owns 35 per cent.
Bob Collymore helped to build Safaricom into East Africa’s most profitable company, thanks to the popular mobile money transfer service M-Pesa and a growing customer base.
Safaricom posted a 13 per cent rise in its core earnings for the full year to end March to 89.6 billion shillings ($875.86 million), driven by growth in M-Pesa.
“As a country, we’ve lost a distinguished corporate leader whose contribution to our national wellbeing will be missed,” Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement here posted on his office’s Twitter account.
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