MTN Uganda Appoints Safaricom’s Sylvia Mulinge as CEO

By Mark Kawalya

Sylvia Mulinge, Safaricom’s current head of consumer business, has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of MTN Uganda as from September 1, 2022. The transition will mark Mulinge’s move to a CEO position after her previous appointment to head Tanzania’s Vodacom was foiled by Tanzanian authorities who denied her a work permit.

“Sylvia Mulinge becomes MTN Uganda CEO, joining from Safaricom, where she served as Chief Consumer Business Officer for the Group. “A seasoned executive, she brings with her a passion for transforming customers’ lives using technology,” South Africa’s MTN Group said.

MTN is on a similar journey as Safaricom, with the latter currently rolling out services that are similar to those that have been pioneered by the former.

“Mulinge replaces Wim Vanhelleputte, who will take on the new MTN Group role of Operations Executive: Markets.” the group said.

Mulinge is one of the three CEOs that the large multinational has hired for its various markets that will commence work effective the same date.

The new MTN CEO is among a group of Safaricom’s longer serving executives that have helped steer the company’s growth to become the largest in the region in terms of sales, earnings and market value metrics.

Another high-profile executive who left Safaricom is Joe Ogutu, who retired after working for 17 years with the company.

Safaricom started with voice and SMS as its core business services but has since diversified into other segments such as mobile money, which has become the lead revenue generator for the company.

Mulinge rose through the ranks at Safaricom, having joined the company in 2006, becoming chief customer officer in 2018. She has held her current role since July 2021.

“She was instrumental in setting up two key businesses in Safaricom; Enterprise and Fixed Data,” Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said, while announcing her exit on Thursday.

Having been listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange last year through an initial public offering, the South African parent firm sold 12.96 percent of its stake against the target of 20 percent. The transaction was done in accordance with local ownership laws.

With a net income for the year ended December increasing by 5.8 percent to 10.8 billion, MTN Uganda, experienced a 9.7 percent jump in total revenue to shs65.3 billion.

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