Bob Collymore: Safaricom board chairman hosts sombre press conference

A very dark cloud hangs over Safaricom House following the death of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bob Collymore at 61 years. 

He died at his Kitisuru home at 2.30am Monday following a battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (cancer of the blood).

Hours after the news of Collymore’s death broke, the interwebs were awash with messages of condolences.

At 11 am, the Board of Directors called a press conference and paid glowing tribute to the CEO of Kenya’s most profitable company.

The room was full of journalists with Safaricom board members still smarting from the news of the death.

Safaricom Board Chairman Nicholas Nga’ng’a held back tears as he spoke about Collymore. He described him as selfless and dedicated even as he battled leukemia.

In October 2017, Bob proceeded to the UK to receive treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and returned in July 2018 to resume duties. He has been undergoing treatment for his condition since then in different hospitals and most recently Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi,” said Nganga while announcing the death of Collymore in a statement. 

“It is a very sad day for us, it’s not what we have been expecting but we have to accept reality,” added Ng’ang’a.

“Bob has fought this cancer with great courage, all that time he has continued to give leadership from his house, it has been two years. He knew what was going to happen and he was ready,” said Safaricom Board Chairman Nicholas Nganga.

“For nine years since he joined Safaricom, Bob has provided the company with visionary leadership and he was always passionate at whatever he did,” said Ng’ang’a.

“We will be giving the way forward hopefully later today or within the next 24 hours,” Ng’ang’a said as he finished off his statement.

On burial plans, Ng’ang’a said that a memorial service will be held during the course of the week.

“There will be private interment (burial) tomorrow but, later on in the week, hopefully, Thursday or Friday, there will be a memorial service for all those who knew and cared for Bob,” said Ng’ang’a. 

Succession at Safaricom 

Present at the press briefing was former Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph who said Collymore had transformed Safaricom to greater heights ever since he joined the company nine years ago.

“We all received the news with a great deal of shock, nobody expected this to happen so soon, Bob took over from me in 2010 and he understood the business of Safaricom,” said Michael Joseph

As a board we should ensure the DNA of Safaricom continues as we choose another leader to take over from Bob Collymore,” added the former Safaricom CEO.

Safaricom Chairman Nicholas Ng’ang’a (right) and former CEO Micheal Joseph, during a press conference in Nairobi on Monday after the death CEO Bob Collymore[David Njaaga, Standard]

Leaders pay tribute 

Among those who have condoled with his family is President Uhuru Kenyatta who said that the country had lost a visionary corporate figure.

Uhuru tweeted: “It is with a deep sense of loss that I have received the sad news of the death of Safaricom CEO Robert (Bob) William Collymore this morning. In this moment of great sorrow, my thoughts and prayers go out to his family, relatives, friends and the staff of Safaricom.”“Bob Collymore was an accomplished corporate leader who steered Safaricom to a position of great admiration as East Africa’s most profitable company.

Besides his role at Safaricom, Mr Collymore served on our Vision 2030 Board where he offered his managerial expertise in pursuit of our national development agenda.

Bob has left behind a widow, Wambui Kamiru and four children.

Bob Collymore and wife, Wambui Kamiru. PHOTO| COURTESY

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