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Safaricom picks new CEO for its Ethiopia business unit


Wim Vanhelleputte has been named the new CEO for Safaricom Ethiopia effective September 1. His appointment comes just a week after the telco announced the exit of Anwar Soussa, who had been holding the position for two years.

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Wim Vanhelleputte as the chief executive officer of Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia PLC effective September 1, 2023,” CEO Peter Ndegwa said.

“Wim brings extensive leadership experience and deep industry knowledge, having worked in the telecommunications industry across multiple markets in sub-Saharan Africa for over 25 years.”

Wim joins Safaricom Ethiopia from MTN Group, where he served as the Operations Executive since August 2022. At MTN,  he was responsible for the performance and governance of four operating companies in West and Central Africa.

Immediately before this, he served as the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Uganda, a role he held since 2016. 

Between 2009 to 2015, the Belgian National was the CEO of MTN Cote d’Ivoire. He later joined Airtel Africa briefly between 2015 and 2016, first as Regional Director – Francophone Africa, then as Cluster CEO for Airtel DRC and Congo. Mr Vanhelleputt has also held senior roles in various other telecommunication companies including Chief Executive Officer at Sentel GSM in Senegal, Managing Director of TchadMobile in Chad, and General Manager at Telcel Gabon.

Since entering Ethiopia, Safaricom Ethiopia has acquired over 4 million customers, with the network now covering more than 25% of the population and spread across 50 cities/towns. Wim will be tasked with driving this growth as well as helping the telco roll our M-pesa in the country.

He also joins the company in the backdrop of a recent announcement by The World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) to fund the ongoing expansion of Safaricom Ethiopia’s telecom network. 

IFC will make a $157.4 million equity investment in Global Partnership for Ethiopia BV (GPE) and a $100 million A-loan to its wholly owned subsidiary, Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia Private Limited Company (Safaricom Ethiopia). Following the transaction, IFC will hold a minority position in Safaricom Ethiopia.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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