Since William Ruto was sworn in as fifth president of Kenya, anxiety has been building up within big business circles owing to his pronouncements during the presidential campaigns.
The head of State and his deputy are on record as saying that top on their to-do list is breaking up the region’s largest telecommunication service provider, Safaricom, which the two termed as monopolistic and predatory to low-income earners.
They even adopted a manifesto that made sweeping promises to revamp the country’s Information and Communications sector.
“Effective immediately after forming the government, the administration will seek the break-up of Safaricom Limited into two distinct and separate business entities with a mobile telecommunications institution under the direct jurisdiction of the Communication Authority and the financial institution firmly under the jurisdiction of the Central Bank of Kenya” states the manifesto. The justification is that the move will create clarity of purpose and regulation that is currently lacking and that has allowed the firm to eclipse its competitors.
The bid to split up Safaricom into several stand-alone business units has been a long-running conversation in the country’s ICT sector for the better part of the past decade.
To begin with, Safaricom remains the National Treasury’s biggest corporate cash cow at a time the country is struggling to grow revenues. In the financial year ended March 2022, Safaricom paid Sh144 billion to the Exchequer including Sh124.7 billion in taxes and license fees and a Sh19.5 billion dividend pay out courtesy of the government’s 35 per cent stake in the firm.
“It is easier said than done. Once the duo (Ruto and Gachagua) settle down in State House, the reality will quickly dawn on them. Some of these things are not as easy as they would rather Kenyans believe,” said an economics professor who did not wish to be named
“Whoever said you campaign in poetry and govern in prose must have had Kenya Kwanza brigade in mind,” he added.
By Thurday night, Ruto was yet to name his cabinet.