Joshua Oigara is the man to beat to succeed Bob Collymore

At the age of 37, Joshua Oigara was appointed as the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) CEO, taking over from Martin Oduor-Otieno thereby becoming the youngest CEO of a publicly traded bank at the NSE. He has done well for himself as he his tenure nears the end, he is looking for a new venture.

Speaking to The Star, he stated that he has three years left and has no intention of overstaying.

But he could soon resign to replace Bob Collymore at Safaricom.

At KCB, he exceeded where Martin Oduor left and his close association with Collymore places him on the right path to also succeed at Safaricom, should the Board decide to hire a Kenyan.

Oigara and Collymore are close and in some cases, are seen in public together like doing interviews. They were also the first and only Executives to declare their wealth publicly in a bid to increase transparency and accountability in the corporate sector.

KCB and Safaricom also already enjoy a working partnership in products like KCB M-PESA service.

Joshua Nyamweya Oigara is the man to beat for Collymore job because of the insistence by government that the next CEO be a Kenyan and the direction the most profitable company wants to take, going by Collymore’s recent assertions.

If the company is to hire internally, two leading candidates are Joseph Ogutu, Director Strategy and Innovation and Sylvia Wairimu Mulinge the Chief Customer Officer. Ogutu was Co-CEO with Sateesh Kamath the Chief Financial Officer when Bob was ill in London. Sylvia has worked her way through the ranks and the recent rejection by the government of Tanzania for her to Head Vodacom Tanzania saw her appointed to her current position.

The quality of skills required to leapfrog the next Safaricom CEO were stipulated by Collymore. Speaking to the African Report, he noted that the firm needs someone who understands the financial sector a lot more. The idea is to get them to better occupy the fintech space. That someone should also “not be scared of going into other markets.”

The company has been looking for the next big thing for them. They have M-PESA that put them on the world map is a key cog of the overall strategy and profitability of the company that it also led people to ask, based on dominant conversations, that the company should be split. They also have Mshwari and recently Fuliza among tens of other products they are testing.

One area being fronted that they could go into is the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) especially for homes, whether under the affordable housing scheme and generally for the real estate sector, it has been argued that Safaricom will keenly be invested in it.

“I have never been a good mergers and acquisitions person, but we will need someone who can spot a deal and grab it,” Collymore added, further raising stakes for Oigara.

For Oigara, his recent adventures into mergers and acquisitions, the latest being proposed merger with NBK puts him ahead of the pack. He also led the bank in negotiating and supporting the revival of Chase Bank which was eventually sold and Imperial Bank, which they are likely to complete its acquisition in June this year.

“KCB Bank Kenya, a subsidiary, received approval from the Central Bank of Kenya and Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation (KDIC) to enter into a part transfer of assets and liabilities of Imperial Bank Limited (in receivership) – IBLR,” KCB said in the latest annual report.

In terms of going into other markets, one country that has been on their radar is Ethiopia, with its over 100 million population. The coming of President Abiy Ahmed has opened the country for foreign investments and Safaricom could consider taking M-PESA to the country. At KCB, the bank has had international experience in countries like South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.

Adding to his competitiveness is that government has shareholding in KCB, same as it does in Safaricom hence Treasury will be working with someone they already know well.


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