NAIROBI - The board of Kenya's biggest telecoms operator Safaricom has elected Adil Khawaja as its chairman, the company said on Thursday.

Khawaja, who is a lawyer, replaces John Ngumi, who resigned from the board of the company that is partly owned by South Africa's Vodacom and Britain's Vodafone, in December.

He has previously served on boards of other Kenyan firms, Safaricom said in a statement signed by CEO Peter Ndegwa. These included Kenya Power and lender KCB.

Among the projects he will help shepherd at Safaricom, which is the most profitable company in East Africa, is the scaling up of operations in neighbouring Ethiopia, after the launch of its network there last year.

(Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Sharon Singleton)