Nicholas Nganga: The Little Known Serial Board Chairman Who Steered Safaricom PLC To Profitability Before Quietly Exiting To Join Kakuzi 

Nicholas Nganga is a man who has extensive experience in the corporate world and was a main cog in steering Safaricom Plc into unprecedented success. He joined the giant telcos as a director on 6 May 2004 and was appointed chair of the board on 16 January 2007. A few months later, he took up a new position as the Chair of Kakuzi Plc–a leading agricultural company in the country.

In this article, WoK brings you the illustrious story Nicholas Ng’ang’a.

Nicholas Ng’ang’a Career

Nicholas Nganga has served as a Permanent Secretary in different ministries including Finance/Treasury, Foreign Affairs and Health. During his tenure as the Treasury PS, the late President Mwai Kibaki was his minister while the current Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua was working under him as the Finance Secretary. He would then switch to join the corporate world where he served in different companies as board Chairman.

He has chaired the National Bank of Kenya, Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC), G4S Security, East African Portland Cement (EAPC), Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC), Car and General Kenya Limited (CGEN) and Tea Board of Kenya boards. He also served as the Vice-Chairman of Council of the University of Nairobi (UON) and as a commissioner on the Electoral Commission of Kenya (now IEBC). He would then join Safaricom Plc, a blue chip company that brought the very best out of him. 

Also Read: Billionaire John Kimbuga Kimani: Ex-Squatter Now Second Largest Safaricom Individual Shareholder

Joining Safaricom Plc

Nicholas Nganga joined Safaricom as a director before he was elevated to board chairman following the exit of Wilson Ndolo Ayah. He was appointed as a representative nominated by the Government of Kenya through the National Treasury. At the time of his appointment, the company was still at its infancy stage with 6.08 million subscribers and 1,000 employees at the time. The company was generating a total revenue of Ksh47.4 billion and an after-tax profit of sh12 billion. Three months into his leadership, M-Pesa was launched in March 2007 and the service has grown to become dominant not only in Kenya but neighbouring countries as well. 

Part of a statement he released to shareholders following his appointment read:

“Safaricom aims to remain the leading mobile network operator in Kenya,” 

“To achieve this we have placed strong emphasis on quality of service to our customers. Building on our strong brand, we will lead in product innovation and utilise emerging technology to serve them.”

He oversaw the company transition of three Chief Executive Officers (CEO) including Michael Joseph, the late Bob Collymore and Peter Ndegwa. 13 years later after he was bidding the telcos goodbye, he had steered the company into becoming the most profitable company in East and Central Africa. It serves a total of over 35.6 million customers, has over 6,500 employees and thousands of indirect employees, and its market capitalization is valued at Ksh1.075 trillion. The shareholder value has also grown by 607 percent making it worth 50 percent of all listed corporate companies at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).

Also Read: Top Ten Most Influential Chair Of Corporate Boards In Kenya

Joining Kakuzi Plc

In November 2020, just four months after leaving Safaricom, Nicholas Nganga was appointed as the Chair of the Board of Kakuzi Plc. Kakuzi is a listed Kenyan agricultural company trading on both the NSE and London Stock Exchanges. The company engages in the cultivation, processing and marketing of agricultural products such as avocados, blueberries, macadamia, tea, livestock and commercial forestry. Nicholas replaced Graham Mclean who stepped down to the position of a non-executive Director.