A year into its African Safari, India’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel has won a license to operate 2G and 3G services in Rwanda.
Together with the 16 countries inherited from Zain, Airtel will not be present in 17 countries in Africa. Rwanda, located in in central and eastern Africa, has a population of approximately 11.4 million (less than 1% of India’s population.)
“Rwanda is amongst the fastest growing telecom markets in Africa. According to the National Statistics Institute of Rwanda, the mobile penetration in the country was 38.4%, as of July 2011,” Airtel said.
It said it plans to invest over USD 100 million (Rs 455 crore) in its operations in Rwanda over the next three years.
“Rwanda is a key telecom market with immense growth potential and will strengthen Bharti Airtel’s footprint in East Africa.” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharti Airtel.
Since its entry into the African market last year, Bharti Airtel has managed to move from the Zain brand to the ‘Airtel’ brand and inked partnerships with companies such as IBM for the strengthening of the local network.
“Going forward, the Company plans to leverage big opportunities in 3G voice & high speed wireless broadband and mobile commerce,” Bharti said.
Bharti started its expansion overseas partly to get over the growth plateau it faces at home. India, with around 35% real wireless penetration, has already started showing signs of deceleration after growing at an extremely fast pace for several years.