In a very very suprising move, Airtel Kenya has appointed John Barorot as its new Network Director. John Barorot, according to Safaricom, was edged-out in a move which was meant to streamline management at Safaricom. Very credible sources though told us that he was sacked and joining Airtel within just two months might be out of wanting to teach his former employer a lesson. The appointment is a major scoop for Airtel which is struggling to build its 3G network to effectively compete with Safaricom in the data market. John was the immediate past Chief Technical Officer of Safaricom having worked there for over ten years rising from the position of Network Maintenance Manager in 2000.

But Safaricom might not be taking this lying down this a source inside the company intimating that Safaricom might be forced to seek legal redress on this. Questions are also being asked by pundits on how such a former senior employee can join an immediate competitor within 2 months. Are there embargoes on the minimum duration such an employee must take before joining a competitor? These are issues which sources say will complicate John’s move to join an immediate competitor of a former employer.

John is credited with building the largest cellular network in the country. Getting John on-board is a major coup for Airtel. There is now cut-throat competition in the voice market which is now believed not to be profitable with focus shifting to data and other value added services. Airtel is expected to launch its 3G network by June and getting a person with the kind of experience John Barorot has is major achievement for them. John saw the introduction of new products and services and technologies at Safaricom including General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), 3G and High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA).

John was also in charge of the Financial planning and technology strategy formulation for the division Network and Information Technology Division of Safaricom which including the functions of Planning and Engineering, Network Implementation, Network Maintenance, Information Technology, Billing and Technical support and Network Quality. Former Network Director, Alec Mulonga will be handing over to John over the next 3 months. Alec is moving back to his home country, Zambia, having landed a new position in a different company.

John is some of the few employees from Telkom Kenya who joined the cellular company during its formative years. He is a recipient of major awards including a Presidential Award of The Moran of The Burning Spear Award (MBS) for his contribution to the development of the Telecoms industry in Kenya . John is also said to have built the cadre off engineers who runs Safaricom network now. The move which saw the departure of John and Robert Mugo who has since joined Wananchi Group among others, led to the birth of what insiders call Safaricom 2.0.

John’s LinkedIn profile still reads “CTO at Safaricom”.

What do you think of Airtel appointing John Barorot as Network Director?