Africa Leaders Magazine

PETER NDEGWA – The first Kenyan CEO of Safaricom

PETER NDEGWA – The first Kenyan CEO of Safaricom - African Leaders Magazine

Safaricom’s new CEO, as Peter Ndegwa officially took over the top job at the Kenyan telecoms operator on Wednesday April 1, 2020. Ndegwa takes over from founding CEO Michael Joseph, who stepped back in to lead the telco after CEO Bob Collymore passed away in July 2019. The Safaricom board of directors announced Ndegwa’s appointment back in October 2019, and he becomes the first Kenyan to lead the company.

He joined Safaricom at a time the world was battling the spreading COVID-19 pandemic, which was meant tough economic times for East African businesses including telecoms operators. To help out Kenyans during the COVID-19 pandemic, Safaricom last month made all person-to-person transactions below 1,000 Kenyan shillings ($9.51) free on mobile money platform M-Pesa for 90 days. (See What African operators are doing to help during COVID-19 outbreak .)

Safaricom is Kenya’s leading mobile operator with over 33 million customers and a market share of close to 66%. Safaricom is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) with annual revenues in excess of KES200 billion ($1.9 billion).

PETER NDEGWA – The first Kenyan CEO of Safaricom - African Leaders Magazine

Mr Peter Ndegwa joined Safaricom from Diageo, a global leader in the alcoholic beverages business, where he is currently serving as Managing Director of Continental Europe.

In his past role, he oversaw business operations in 50 countries in Western and Eastern Europe, as well as Russia, the Middle East and North Africa region. He was appointed to the role in July 2018, becoming the first African to run a large business for Diageo outside of Africa.

In his time in Continental Europe, his energy to drive transformational change delivered significant results. Prior to this Peter led two of Diageo’s biggest businesses on the continent, Guinness Ghana Breweries Plc and Guinness Nigeria Plc. At Diageo Peter developed a reputation for cultivating a strong inclusive culture which has been paramount in his leadership.

PETER NDEGWA – The first Kenyan CEO of Safaricom - African Leaders Magazine

Peter Ndegwa’s Career:

He began his eleven-year career with global consulting firm PwC as a consultant, relocating to London, UK under the firm’s talent development programme in 1996. In 1999, he transitioned from the Accountancy practice to the Consulting & Corporate Finance Unit at PwC. After completing his MBA, Peter took on key assignments in corporate advisory and project management at leading European and American banks and insurance businesses.

He returned to Nairobi in 2002, where he worked on several significant corporate advisory assignments – providing strategic transaction advice, due diligence, valuation, financial planning and modelling, and significant project leadership and management – mostly in the financial services sector.


East African Breweries

In 2004, Peter joined East African Breweries (EABL), a Diageo subsidiary based in Nairobi, as Strategy Director. In this role, he led the NSE-listed beer manufacturer in shaping a five-year strategy. This included the development of an affordablebeer strategy which saw the creation of Senator Keg.

Senator keg has gone on to become one of Kenya’s and Diageo’s most iconic beer brands. It has led to a strong partnership with the Kenyan government and created a viable entry level beer which reduces the consumption of illicit brews, increases local raw material use and boosts job creation. As a result, it was recently featured in the Harvard Business Review.

During that period, Peter also led significant business development agendas including the acquisition of Serengeti Breweries Limited, a major subsidiary in Tanzania, and unwound a complex shareholding structure with SAB Miller (now ABI) in both Kenya and Tanzania.

PETER NDEGWA – The first Kenyan CEO of Safaricom - African Leaders Magazine

West Africa:

He left EABL in October 2011, starting an eight-year sojourn away from home to Diageo subsidiaries Guinness Ghana Breweries plc and Guinness Nigeria plc both of which he led as CEO.

His commitment to investing in people, introducing new brands and improving efficiency saw him grow both business despite the challenges they were facing. In Ghana, he led talks with the government leading to introduction of an affordable beer in the country.

In Nigeria, he helped transform the business – at a time when the country was facing economic challenges due to declining oil prices. His efforts resulted in a 40% recovery in share price. He left Nigeria for his current role in Europe in July 2018.

In his career spanning over 25 years, Peter has demonstrated commitment to simplification of business process and on leadership and talent development has helped create a sustainable business for the future. This has not only resulted in a career decorated by new brands, but also winning accolades as an employer, manufacturer, purchaser and investor.

Peter has also demonstrated commitment to sustainable business practices. Beyond championing talent development, he has also enabled a range and depth of investment in water and environment programmes.

Following the appointment as CEO of Safaricom Plc, Peter once again returns home to Nairobi. Peter is married with one child.

PETER NDEGWA – The first Kenyan CEO of Safaricom - African Leaders Magazine

Peter Ndegwa’s Education:

He holds an MBA from the London Business School and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Nairobi. He is also a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK).

Peter draws his inspiration from his teachers in primary school, the legendary Dr Geoffrey Griffin – the late founder of Starehe Boys Centre- his alma mater, and his parents, especially his mother.

“Instead of just looking at what governments can do, we need to acknowledge that large organisations can improve society and shift how people think and feel. For me, this is about working with others to build sustainable businesses that can make a difference in people’s lives.” – Peter Ndegwa.

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