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Friday, March 21, 2014


Shivan Bhargava
Adil El Yousseffi
Airtel Kenya MD Shivan Bhargava has quit to be replaced by Adil El Yousseffi, Tigo Ghana boss.
Staff at the company were informed that Shivan would be looking to spend more time with his family presumably in India.
His departure marks the second high profile exit of an Indian executive at Park Side Towers, Mombasa Road following the return to India of Manoj Kohli, Bharti Airtel who was co-CEO and MD of the International business. Kohli relinquished these positions to become MD of Bharti Enterprises, the non-telecommunications part of Bharti. He is also the chairman of Bharti International which overseas Airtel Africa.
In both cases non-Indians are coming in to replace them perhaps reflecting a shift in the thinking of Company chair Sunnil Mittal. Manoj Kohli was replaced as MD for International by Christian de Faria.
Besides Kohli, former Anglophone Africa Airtel CEO Jayant Khosla also left as the company asked executives to take a cut in their hefty allowances.
Shivan rose to the corner office from the position of Chief Operating Oficer in September 2011 to replace Paraguayan Rene Meza who left for Vodacom Tanzania as CEO.
Airtel has been making a number of indigenous board and executive appointments across the African continent recently perhaps recognizing need for home grown experience to drive its strategy.
Some of these have been strategic such as the appointment of Alain Roger Coefe as board chairman of Airtel Burkina Faso. Coefe has been a government minister, a UNDP executive in West Africa and a World Bank consultant.
Same case applies for the appointment of Jean-Pierre Kimalaya as board chair Airtel DRC. He was the Economic Advisor to President Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Others include Claude Ayo Iguendha as board chair in Gabon.
Airtel late last year decided to make what it called Apex level changes which saw the formation of a Governance Board oversighting the entire business. It is composed of Sunnil Mittal and his two Vice-Chairmen, as well as Manoj Kohli and four Bharti veterans.
In Africa the business was restructured into four business units, Nigeria and DRC are stand alone, while one cluster consists of Zambia, Congo Brazzaville, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Madagascar and Seychelles. This cluster is led VG Somasekhar.
Kenya is clustered with Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Gabon, Sierra Leone and Rwanda in the other business unit which is led by Christophe Soulet.
Soulet has also worked with Tigo in Ghana and DRC explaining the connection with Adil El Yousseffi, a Moroccan who has been heading Tigo, Ghana.