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Bharti set to invest $100m

By Vision Reporter

Added 21st June 2010 03:00 AM

BHARTI Airtel, the Indian telecom giant that bought Zain Africa operations, will invest $100m in Uganda in the next two years, its boss announced on Friday.

BHARTI Airtel, the Indian telecom giant that bought Zain Africa operations, will invest $100m in Uganda in the next two years, its boss announced on Friday.

By David Mugabe

BHARTI Airtel, the Indian telecom giant that bought Zain Africa operations, will invest $100m in Uganda in the next two years, its boss announced on Friday.

Manoj Kohli, the joint-managing director of the world’s fifth biggest telecom company, said at a briefing that their entry will change the market through partnerships and creative pricing approaches.

“We are followers today in the market, time is not far when Airtel will be the leader,” said Kohli at the Kampala Serena Hotel.

To reign on the high tariffs, that current players charge, Airtel has promised to push the Government for lower interconnection charges between telecom operators.

“We believe that these rates (interconnection) are too high for a country like Uganda.

“Only a quarter of the population has access to telephony,” said Kohli.

Part of the $100m will be sunk into network expansion, distribution, infrastructure and broadband extension, Kohli revealed.

The Friday announcement followed a five-day workshop in Kampala attended by 130 executives of Zain and Airtel. Kohli also confirmed that Zain will be rebranded to Bharti Airtel before the end of the year. But the Serena event already had Bharti brands and not Zain all over the conference room.

“The first plan is to drive the network into rural areas and the next one is affordability through infrastructure sharing and reduction of interconnection rates,” said Kohli.

Yesse Oenga, the chief executive officer of Zain Uganda, explained that the entry of Airtel would positively impact the country and the industry.

‘It is a vote of confidence in Africa’s future. Rarely do we see investments of $10.7b (at a go),” said Oenga.

Uganda is an attractive market for new operators as well as existing ones because investors in the industry earn some of the highest revenues per user.

Teledensity is at 30%, which means out of every 100 people, only about 30 have access to any form of telephony.

It is even worse in the rural areas at just about 10%. This penetration figure is one of the lowest in the world.

It therefore presents an immense opportunity for business growth.

Bharti set to invest $100m

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