Safaricom’s Sylvia Mulinge replaces Wim Vanhelleputte as MTN-Uganda boss

Mr Wim Vanhelleputte (left) has been replaced by Ms Sylvia Wairimu Mulinge (right) as the new MTN-Uganda chief executive officer. PHOTOS/ COURTESY/ FILE

Telcom giant MTN-Uganda has appointed Safaricom Plc’s chief consumer business officer, Ms Sylvia Wairimu Mulinge as their new chief executive officer, replacing Mr Wim Vanhelleputte who has been promoted to a regional role as operating executive for the WECA Markets of Liberia, Guinea-Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, and Congo-Brazzaville within the MTN Group.

The telcom giant said Thursday that Mr Vanhelleputte would cease to be the company’s chief executive officer effective July 31, 2022, following the end of his tenure before taking on a new role effective August 1, 2022.
During his six years of service, Mr Vanhelleputte is said to have delivered the renewal of MTN’s NTO License, the separation of the mobile financial services business from the telco business and the initial public offer and listing of the Company on the Uganda Securities Exchange.  
“The Board is grateful to Mr Vanhelleputte for his outstanding service over the years and contribution to the Company’s growth during that period. We wish him the best in his new role,” Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr Charles Mbire is quoted to have said. 

In her current role at Safaricom, Ms Mulinge is responsible for driving the consumer telecoms business, managing the overall brand, and leading the transformation of Safaricom to become a digital lifestyle enabler of consumers’ lives.
She joined Safaricom in 2007 and has occupied various senior roles over the years, including head of retail, head of sales, and director of consumer business. She is a graduate of the University of Nairobi, Kenya, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree (first-class honours).

“I would like to welcome Sylvia Mulinge to MTN Uganda. I believe that her experience will be beneficial to MTN, particularly given her alignment to our strategic intent of leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress. The Board is confident that Ms. Mulinge will continue the work of growing the Company as a leading provider of telecommunications and digital solutions,” Mr Mbire said.
In the interim, the current Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Andrew Bugembe, has been appointed as Acting Chief Executive Officer effective August 1, 2022, until September 30, 2022.


In 2019, Mr Vanhelleputte was in the spotlight following his deportation in February the same year over allegations of undermining state security.
Later in June of the same year, President Museveni pardoned him and ordered the Immigration Department to remove him from the Stop List.

Mr Vanhelleputte departure followed the deportation of the then telecom company’s chief marketing officer, Mr Olivier Prentout (French), Italian Elsa Mussolini, the general manager for mobile money and Annie Tabura (Rwandan), the general manager for sales and distribution in January over what government called activities that undermined national security.
Mr Vanhelleputte later petitioned court challenging his deportation and the process used by the Ministry of Internal Affairs to ship him out contending that he was never accorded a fair hearing.


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