Anwar Soussa, the CEO of Safaricom Ethiopia, is leaving in July, and Wim Vanhelleputte from MTN Group will take over his role in September.

A few days ago, Safaricom Ethiopia announced the departure of its first CEO, Anwar Soussa. Soussa’s stint at the helm of the new telco started in August 2021. According to Safaricom Ethiopia, he will leave the carrier at the end of July 2023.

Safaricom Ethiopia’s parent company, Safaricom (Kenya), has revealed that Wim Vanhelleputte will take over from Soussa. Wim will take over the new role after working at MTN Group, where he served as operations executive—markets, since August 2022.

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A statement from Safaricom Kenya reads, “We are pleased to announce the appointment of Wim Vanhelleputte as the chief executive officer of Safaricom Ethiopia effective 1st September 2023. Wim brings extensive leadership experience and deep industry knowledge, having worked in the telecommunications industry across multiple markets in sub-Saharan Africa for over 25 years. He joins Safaricom Ethiopia from MTN Group, where he was the operations executive—markets since August 2022, and he was responsible for the performance and governance of four operating companies in West and Central Africa.”

Before his role at MTN Group, Vanhelleputte was CEO of MTN Uganda since 2016. From 2009 to 2015, Vanhelleputte served as the CEO of MTN Côte d’Ivoire. He briefly joined Airtel Africa between 2015 and 2016, first as the regional director for francophone Africa, and later as the cluster CEO for Airtel DRC and Congo.

Over his career, Vanhelleputte has worked extensively in the telco space, including as CEO at Sentel GSM in Senegal, managing director of TchadMobile in Chad, and general manager at Telcel Gabon, among other key roles.

“As Wim joins us, we have planned for a seamless transition to ensure that we maintain our momentum so far in delivering our vision to transform lives through a digital future for all Ethiopians,” concludes Safaricom.

Safaricom Ethiopia, which generated KES 562.4 million (over $4 million) in revenue in the last financial year, started commercial operations in October 2022 after months of tests and customer onboarding. It has since grown its user base to over 4 million customers. 

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