Condolences are pouring in for departed Safaricom Chief Executive Officer, Bob Collymore. He was 61.
The Kenyan telecom’s Board Chairman Nicholas Nganga said Collymore succumbed to cancer at his home in Nairobi, Kenya on Monday.
“What eminently sad news,” said Amb Kamau Macharia, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“What a gallant fight Bob put up! After such great service to our nation and his company and shareholder,” he added.
The Guyanese-born British businessman traveled to the United Kingdom in October 2017 to receive treatment for acute myeloid leukemia.
He returned to Kenya in July 2018 to resume his duties as CEO of Safaricom while undergoing treatment at a number of hospitals.
His condition worsened in June 2019 and he died at his home on the morning of 1 July.
The media recently reported that Collymore had been set to step down in August after nine years at the helm, during which time Safaricom’s share price has risen by more than 400%.
The appointment of his successor was delayed as the Kenyan government, which owns 35 percent of the company, insisted that a local be picked to succeed him.
Collymore has since been credited for building Safaricom – which is 35% owned by South Africa’s Vodacom – into East Africa’s most profitable company, thanks to the popular mobile money transfer service M-Pesa and a growing customer base.
Collymore was born in Guyana and raised by his grandparents there.
At the age of 16, he moved to join his mother in the United Kingdom, attending Selhurst High School.
Upon leaving school, he was offered a place at Warwick University, but had to turn this down as he was ineligible for funding.
From 1993, Collymore worked in various positions in the telecommunications industry in the UK, including work for Cellnet, Dixons Retail and Vodafone UK.
In 2003 he moved to Japan to manage the integration of J-Phone into the Vodafone Group.
In 2006 he became the governance director for Africa at Vodafone and subsidiary Safaricom. In 2010 he was appointed chief executive officer of Safaricom.
Collymore married his second wife, Wambui Kamiru, on 2 April 2016 in an invitation-only wedding at an upmarket residence in Kitisuru, Nairobi. he leaves behind a wife and four children.