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Bharti Airtel officials tour Africa to promote strategy

o Edris Kisambira
21.06.2010 kl 17:00 | Computerworld Uganda

Following the completion of Bharti Airtel's deal to acquire 15 of Zain's country operations in Africa, company executives have embarked on a tour of the continent, meeting media and local officials in an effort to promote the mobile telecommunications giant's growth strategy.

 

Following the completion of Bharti Airtel's deal to acquire 15 of Zain's country operations in Africa, company executives have embarked on a tour of the continent, meeting media and local officials in an effort to promote the mobile telecommunications giant's growth strategy.

Airtel, as the company will be known in Africa, has promised to drive its network coverage deep into rural areas, providing affordable services.

"This is our first step in Africa, which means our commitment to Uganda is the highest," said Manoj Kohli, the CEO of international operations and co-Managing Director, at a press conference in Kampala, Uganda, at the end of last week.

Airtel will invest $100 million in the Uganda operation, Kohli said during the press conference, which kicked off the company executives' tour of Africa.

"We believe we have inherited very well-run operations and look forward to working with our team of highly talented professionals," Kholi said.

The Kampala visit signalled the actual takeover of operations, expected to be completed in October, when the company will launch a rebranding drive, Kholi said.

Bharti paid a total of US$10.7 billion for Zain's African operations, minus Sudan and Morocco. Kholi said that of the total, $9 billion is the equity value of the transaction, and $1.7 billion is debt that Bharti is taking on.

Asked at the Kamapala conference whether Bharti is looking at other African markets now that they are on the continent, Kholi said, "Zain is a good start and 15 countries is a good start."

Kholi said that while Zain has not been keen on the Internet segment of the communications market, Airtel is set to offer data services and more.

"We would like to give our customers good music, good TV and when we get the 3G license, we will give our users high speed broadband access," Kholi said.

In addition to voice services, Airtel provides broadband Internet, IPTV, digital TV and more in its home market of India. Bharti Airtel has said that it plans to bring its ecosystem of global partners to Uganda and this will result in additional employment opportunities for Ugandans.

Countries in which Bharti has acquired the operations are Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and Ghana. Others are Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Zain is the market leader in 10 of the 15 countries and in second place in four countries.

With the successful completion of Zain's acquisition, Bharti Airtel, which started as a small company in 1995 in New Delhi, is now the fifth largest mobile telecom company in the world, with over 180 million customers.

Keywords: Telecommunication  
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