Safaricom, the leading telecommunications company in Kenya, has announced the appointment of Adil Khawaja as its new chairman. This announcement comes slightly over a month after Khawaja joined the company as a director in a board shake-up that is seen to align the firm with the new administration.
Khawaja has a wealth of experience in the Kenyan business landscape, having previously served on the boards of other top Kenyan firms such as Kenya Power and KCB. This experience is expected to be valuable as he helps shepherd the various projects at Safaricom, the most profitable company in East Africa.
One of the critical projects that Khawaja will focus on is the scaling up of operations in neighbouring Ethiopia. It comes after Safaricom launched its network in Ethiopia last year, and the company is now looking to expand its presence in the country. The move is expected to bring significant growth opportunities for the company. Khawaja’s expertise in business strategy and operations will be crucial in ensuring the expansion is successful.
The appointment of Khawaja as chairman also marks the end of the reign of John Ngumi, who was one of the favourite board appointees to cash-rich parastatals during the Uhuru Kenyatta administration. Ngumi was seen as a blue-eyed boy in the Uhuru administration and was handed chairman positions in various state-owned companies such as the Industrial & Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC) and Kenya Airways.
A cut impacted Safaricom’s financial performance for the six months that ended September on the mobile termination rate (MTR) and higher costs associated with entry into Ethiopia. The company reported a 10 per cent decrease in net profit to Sh33.5 billion, while total revenue rose by 4.6 per cent to Sh153.4 billion. However, the company’s M-Pesa revenue increased by 8.7 per cent to Sh56.9 billion, and data earnings jumped by 11.3 per cent to Sh26.3 billion.