Safaricom describes Huawei issue as 'worrying'

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore has described the US ban on Huawei as 'a worrying issue' because it will affect Huawei partner companies, including Safaricom.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of Africa Shared Value Summit in Nairobi, Collymore did not specifiy exactly how the issue would affect the telco or the sector.

"The Huawei issue shows that we are a very interconnected world. When we announced our full year results, I said we run the risk of becoming a victim of geo-political issues much bigger than us. It is important that Africa takes its own position and not be led by somebody else," said Collymore.

He added that, "I think it is unfortunate. I am hoping that this current war of words doesn't escalate. But Huawei have been a great partner for many years. We would like to stick with our partners as much as we can, however there can be some practical difficulties if the embargo is on American companies working with Huawei because it is an interconnected business."

Huawei is a strong Safaricom associate having recently announced their partnership to build an end- to-end 4G backbone network. In April this year, the company signed a deal with the Kenyan government to build a Kshs 17.5 billion (US$175-million) datacentre at the Konza technocity.

The Chinese multinational telco is also understood to have erected 3,500 mobile base stations in Kenya. Safaricom's M-Pesa platform also runs on Huawei's mobile money platform.

Bob's retirement

During the same briefing Collymore said that he would leave the company by August 2020.

"I will be with the company for another year, since I was sick for a year. I am here till year 2020," he said, adding, "I tend to focus more on those new revenues streams up and running; so you take ecommerce and DigiFarm and other things we are working on. We have to diversify the revenue streams."

Collymore joined the company as the CEO in August 2010. His official contract was supposed to end in August 2019.