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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 12:20 GMT
African tech firm sheds senior staff
African Lakes, the former general trading company turned into one of Africa's biggest internet operators, is ditching many of its senior staff in a bit to accelerate its path to profitability.

Africa Online, the unit which sells internet access in eight sub-Saharan African countries, is losing four of its staff, including chief executive Kamande Muiriri.

Mr Muiriri has only been in the job since March of this year, taking over from Africa Online founder Ayisi Makatiani who has since left the company.

No new chief executive is being appointed, with the duties being fulfilled by new managing director Fred Murunga, who has been running Egyptian subsidiary MenaNet.

Back on track?

The idea is to get ALC generating cash, rather than burning it, within the first six months of next year, a spokesman told BBC News Online.

One way of achieving that is by sharply reducing office costs in Nairobi and the corporate head office in London, he said.

Outgoing executives
Kamande Muiriri, CEO Africa Online
Mike Ralston, VP group business development
Ben Parker, AfricaOnline.com editor-in-chief
James Ochola, general manager Africa Online Kenya
John Njugana Kamau, head technical services Africa Online
Katie Thomson, asst group financial controller
The most recent three-month figures, for the quarter ending in June 2002, showed an operating loss of 1.4m on sales of just over 7m.

Slimming down the executive roster, the spokesman said, was simply a matter of "prudent management" given the hard times that internet companies around the world are experiencing.

Clearout

But observers noted that there is probably a second reason for the boardroom cull.

African Lakes' growth has come by acquisition, over the five years in which the company has been converted from a general trading outfit specialising in automobiles into a technology group.

That has left a lot of dead wood, some believe, which the company is now in a position to clear out - in the process saving itself a sizable chunk of cash.

Given that almost all the departures are from Africa Online, and the new boss is from MenaNet, some observers feel the clearout suggests a more disciplined team at MenaNet is wanted to get Africa Online generating profits.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
David Montgomery, African Lakes chairman
"The people in the senior hierarchy are clearly the people who cost the most to sustain."
See also:

19 Apr 02 | Business
04 Dec 01 | Business
12 Nov 01 | Business
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