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Safaricom Head of Innovation, Kamal Bhattacharya, Exits in Unclear Circumstances

Safaricom Head of Innovation Lab, Kamal Bhattacharya has left the company in what colleagues call suspicious circumstances, few months after being recruited.

Kamal who previously worked with MIT and IBM was recruited to spur innovation at the telco which is looking beyond voice, data and sms services as growth stagnates. He joined the company in April 2017 and has not achieved much despite being retained with a generous package.

Funny enough, Kamal was previously a key partner of Erik Hersman as the latter went about looting iHub coffers and mismanaging the tech hub which has now been turned into a co-working space for everyone.

Kamal and his boys managed to convince Safaricom that the telco could create a successful social network which they could leverage on to grow beyond the dependency on M-Pesa, a fete which even the most foolish knew that was impossible.

The reason for Kamal Bhattacharya’s abrupt exit are unclear but sources within the company indicate that he was sacked as top management felt that he was not delivering value for money spent in his department. Other members of his team might also be on their way out as the company cost-cut to maintain high profitability which has raised eyebrows.

The exit of Kamal was announced to the telco’s staff members through an email which we have seen.

Besides Bonga app, Kamal’s Alpha team which also had former Google Africa executive Shiko Gitau and Kagonya Awori from Mobiotrics delivered almost no innovation and has remained a lounge shop which other departments thought was a waste.

Others in the team were Kennedy Kahiri and Kariuki Marima.


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Written by Robert

Respected Kenyan blogger, tech evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle @RobertAlai or Facebook page (

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