Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore dies after losing cancer battle aged 61

Bob Collymore
Bob Collymore is to stay at Safaricom for another year. Photo: Twitter/bobcollymore

The Chief Executive Officer of part Vodafone owned telecoms company Safaricom Plc has died after losing his nearly two-year battle with cancer.

In a statement, the Kenyan mobile giant said: “It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing away of Robert (Bob) William Collymore, CEO of Safaricom Plc, which occurred at his home in the morning of 1st July 2019.”

Safaricom Bob Collymore statement
Safaricom statement confirming Bob Collymore’s death.

In May, 61-year-old Collymore, had agreed to stay in his position for an extra year after he was due to step down in August after nine years in charge which saw Safaricom’s share price rose by more than 400%. 

His departure had been delayed after the government, which owns 35% of the company, insisted that a Kenyan is picked to succeed him. 

The Guyanese-born British businessman had received treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia in Britain during 2017 and according to the company, he had been undergoing treatment for the same condition.

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, becoming the governance director for Africa at Vodafone and subsidiary Safaricom in 2006. In 2010 he was appointed chief executive officer of the company, a position he held until his death.

He leaves behind a wife and four children.

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