Safaricom shareholders approve entry into Ethiopia

Safaricom shareholders clear the path for Ethiopia entry

Safaricom shareholders gave a nod for the setting up and incorporation of the Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia PLC, the company which will begin operation in Ethiopia in January 2022.

The stakeholders voted Friday last week by a majority to allow Safaricom to subscribe for shares in Vodafamily Ethiopia Company, a special entity in charge of the Ethiopian venture under the Global Partnership for Ethiopia.

The Global Partnership for Ethiopia which is registered in the Netherlands will be the operating company to be established in Ethiopia to spearhead the operator’s expansion into the country.

Speaking at Safaricom’s 13th Annual General Meeting, Michael Joseph, Chairman of the Board, expressed confidence in the company’s ability to build a top-quality mobile network that will enable Ethiopia to access a world-class array of digital services.

“The board is committed to working with management to deliver value to our shareholders but, most importantly, to ensure we continue to be there for our customers, staff and the community, especially in this new phase,” said Joseph.

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The telco’s Chief Executive Peter Ndegwa said entry into Ethiopia has brought to life the company’s dream to expand beyond Kenya.

“Ethiopia is a critical part of our strategy under Mergers, Partnerships & Acquisitions. We are proud to lead this partnership that will provide quality and affordable mobile and internet connectivity to enable more Ethiopians to access quality telecommunications services,” said Ngegwa.

In July, Ethiopia sealed the entry of Safaricom to its telecoms space by registering its new business unit, dubbed Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia PLC.

The new unit has a nationwide license lasting 15 years and renewable subject to the fulfilment of license obligations issued by the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA).

Safaricom directly and indirectly holds at least a 50 percent equity stake in each of the consortium companies in the Ethiopia venture with each of the consortium parties set to become subsidiaries of Safaricom.

This gives Safaricom a controlling stake in the venture ahead of its partners who include its parent company Vodacom and Ndegwa expects the new venture to mark the telecom’s next phase of growth.

“The license opens the door for a fresh chapter of growth for Safaricom and its consortium partners in Africa’s largest country by population and in one of the only remaining economies that feature a single provider of telecommunications services.”

Shareholders also approved the final dividend of Ksh.0.92 per share with the dividend payout amounting to Ksh.36.8 billion.

The dividend will be payable on or before August 31, 2021, to the shareholders on the Register of Members as at the close of business on July 30.

Safaricom had previously approved an interim dividend of Ksh.0.45 per share amounting to Ksh.18 billion which was paid to shareholders on March 31.

Despite the pandemic, Safaricom exhibited resilience during the year to sustain overall performance. This was coupled with operational efficiency and improved asset utilization that boosted recovery especially in the second half of the year.

The company recorded flat growth in the financial year ending March 2021 and is set to roar back into growth in 2021.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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