• Message from the CEO


Robert F Kennedy suggested that ‘the purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better’ and it’s a sentiment that we share at Safaricom. We believe that having the right purpose is fundamental to making the right decisions. It is at the core of our ongoing mission to transform lives. It is why we reject the idea that business is about choosing between having a purpose or making a profit.

We believe that business requires the ‘Three Ps’: Purpose, People and Profit. If we let our purpose of transforming lives guide our decision-making and put our people first, we know that the profit will follow. For us, it is a case of choosing ‘people and purpose and profit’.

We reject the idea that business is about choosing between having a purpose or making a profit.

Our belief in the ‘Three Ps’ made embracing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) an easy decision for us to make. Society and community remain at the heart of everything we do. We know that our success is thanks to the support of the people of Kenya as much as it is to our own efforts and we take our responsibility to reciprocate that support very seriously. The SDGs are a daily reminder that we cannot grow alone and that our success is only sustainable if everyone benefits from it, especially the poorest 46 per cent of the population.


The SDGs have expanded our outlook and ambitions and reminded us that sustainable development is not about carrying out sustainability-related initiatives outside of our business, but rather is about creating commercially viable solutions to global problems. The SDGs seek to address large-scale issues and, if we are to tackle these challenges in meaningful, long-term ways, we must do more than simply provide financial contributions — we need to empower people to uplift themselves. The best solutions are those that are economically feasible because this makes them maintainable and scalable. This reality is why the SDGs highlight the important role business has to play in sustainable development. As the Business and Sustainable Development Commission has pithily noted: this is about return on capital, not just responsibility.

We still have much to learn and do in terms of integrating the SDGs into Safaricom, but I am pleased with the progress we have made this year. Each division has identified the SDGs that are relevant to their objectives and started aligning their activities accordingly. This first phase in the process was largely concerned with raising awareness and I am pleased to note that an independent survey found that 83% of staff members are now familiar with the SDGs. In the next phase, we will start monitoring our progress against SDG-related targets and I look forward to reporting on our efforts in this regard next year.

“This is about return on capital, not just responsibility.”


The SDGs inspire a new type of business leadership as well — one that is bold enough to balance short-term profit against long-term gain. The SDGs remind us that sustainability needs all of us working together to make a lasting impact. That is why I have been delighted by the response to our programme of CEO Meetings and, in particular, how we built upon the momentum created at the CEO gathering in December to launch The B Team – Africa just two months later, in February 2017.

The B Team – Africa is an exciting alliance of business leaders from across the region who believe that the purpose of business is to be a driving force for social and environmental, as well as economic benefit and who are committed to driving a better way of doing business for the wellbeing of both people and planet.


Gender equality and diversity were areas of particular focus for me during the year. While we have made great strides as a business in terms of our overall gender parity, women are still relatively underrepresented at senior management levels. It is an area that we are determined to address further and one of our first steps is to disclose the matter transparently and start reporting the specific numbers, and our progress against these, annually. Our level of diversity is equally unfortunate, with only 1.4% of our colleagues being people from minorities or with disabilities. We have firmly committed to address this issue and ensure that at least 5% of our workforce is diverse by 2020.


In response to the very serious threat of climate change, we have made the bold commitment to becoming a net zero carbon-emitting company by 2050. We have improved the accuracy of the data we use to calculate our carbon footprint this year as well and this improvement is discussed in further detail on page 38 of this report. Based on this enhanced data, our carbon footprint decreased by 1% to 78,927 tCO2e this year, which is a satisfactory result given the continued strong growth of our network during FY17, but it has also inspired us to intensify our efforts in this regard in the immediate future.

“Integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into our daily operations has been both an inspiring and a humbling process.”


As a business, we realise that sustainability remains a journey, not a destination and integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into our daily operations has been both an inspiring and a humbling process. I am proud of how well we have embraced the SDGs, but I also recognise that we have a lot more to do. The SDGs have also reminded us that we cannot do this alone, and how important it is for the wider business community to join us on this journey. The challenges facing the planet and the poorest among us are substantial and urgent, but they are also opportunities for economic empowerment and business development for those bold enough to embrace them. Even more than that, though, the SDGs serve as a timely reminder that our long-term success and prosperity relies upon us making sure no one gets left behind.


It has been immensely satisfying to witness the rapid growth of our M-TIBA health payment solution since its national launch in September 2016. A health payment ‘e-wallet’ for low income earners, the M-TIBA application now has over 465,000 active users, who have made deposits of over KES 7.3 million and can now access healthcare at 375 accredited facilities in Nairobi, Mt Kenya and the Western and Nyanza regions.

Bob Collymore
Chief Executive
Officer Safaricom Limited