Bob Collymore, CEO Safaricom passes away

July 2, 2019 • East Africa, Features, People, Top Stories

Bob Collymore, CEO Safaricom, passes away

Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, passes away after a 2-year battle with cancer. Image sourced from Hivisasa.

On Monday, 1 July 2019, it was announced that Bob Collymore, CEO of Kenyan mobile network provider — Safaricom, has passed away. Collymore died during the early hours of Monday morning after a two-year long battle with cancer. He was just 61 years old. 

Chairman Nicholas Ng’ang’a, a member of the Safaricom Board, confirmed the story at a press briefing. He said it was “a very sad day” for both the CEO’s friends and business colleagues.

“Bob has fought this cancer with great courage, [and] all that time, he has continued to give leadership from his house. For nine years since he joined Safaricom, Bob has provided the company with visionary leadership. And he was always passionate at whatever he did,” adds Ng’ang’a.

Collymore led the East African tech company from 2010 up until his passing. Through his leadership, Safaricom grew to allow millions of Kenyans — who were otherwise excluded from the traditional banking system — to pay for everything from groceries to taxi rides. This innovative movement helped turn Kenya into a front-runner in the world of cashless payments. 

“This literally revolutionised Kenya’s financial services sector,” says CEO of Kenya’s Institute of Economic Affairs, Kwame Owino. “In 2006, only 27 per cent of the population had access to formal financial services. 32 per cent relied on informal services, and over 40 per cent was fully excluded. But by 2016, 75 per cent of Kenyans — most of whom had never banked — had access to formal financial services.”

Notably, according to The Guardian, Collymore managed to double Safaricom’s user base and increase profits by 380% — ‘turning it into a $10.8 billion company that contributed 6.5 per cent to Kenya’s total GDP’. 

Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said: “Although Bob Collymore has left us, his inspirational life will remain a great legacy, not just to Kenyans, but also to the whole world.” 

By Jenna Cook

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