(Ecofin Agency) - In August 2021, Anwar Soussa became Safaricom Ethiopia's first CEO. As such, he coordinated the launch of the company's commercial activities and the gradual roll-out of its telecoms network. The company registered 4 million subscribers in just a few months.
On Tuesday, June 27, Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia PLC (STEP), the mobile phone company, announced a major change in its management. The Belgian Wim Vanhelleputte is its new CEO. He will replace Anwar Soussa, whose mandate ends on August 31, 2023.
Vanhelleputte will take over as the telecom operator enters a new phase of its growth. In May 2023, the company acquired an operating license for its mobile money service, M-Pesa, from the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), at a cost of $150 million.
Safaricom Ethiopia has also secured financial support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). This will help bolster its business development in the East African country.
In his new role, Vanhelleputte will be responsible for driving Safaricom Ethiopia's growth strategy in a telecom market undergoing liberalization. It is worth noting that competition in the sector is becoming tougher.
With 70 million subscribers, the incumbent operator Ethio Telecom is set to receive financial and technical support from an international telecom operator, in exchange for a minority stake in its shareholding. Additionally, a second operator is expected to enter the market very soon.
With over 25 years of experience in the Sub-Saharan African telecom market, Vanhelleputte brings a great expertise to his new role. In fact, he has held leadership positions in various companies across the continent. This include MTN Côte d'Ivoire, MTN Uganda, Airtel Africa, Sentel GSM Senegal, TchadMobile, and Telcel Gabon. Since August 2022, he served as the Director of Operations for West and Central Africa at MTN Group. In this position, he oversees four companies.
In a press release, Safaricom stated: "With Wim's arrival, we have planned for a smooth transition to ensure that we continue our momentum and realize our vision of transforming the lives of all Ethiopians through a digital future."
Isaac K. Kassouwi