Bharti Airtel, the country's largest mobile telecom service provider, has received a licence to operate 2G and 3G services in Rwanda and is planning to invest over $100 million in the African country over the next three years.
With this licence, the company's footprint across the African continent will expand to 17 countries, Rwanda being one of its fastest growing markets, it said in a statement.
Last year, Bharti acquired telecoms operations in 15 African countries in a $9 billion deal, and will operate in 20 countries worldwide, including 17 in Africa, after entering Rwanda.
Shortly after acquiring Zain, Manoj Kohli, joint-managing director, Bharti Airtel had told Uganda's The New Vision newspaper that part of the $100 million investment would go towards network expansion, distribution, infrastructure and broadband extension (See: Bharti Airtel to invest $100 million in Zain Uganda: Report) "We are pleased to be part of the vision of the Government of Rwanda to take telecommunications forward as a priority. We will work with the Government to bring affordable and best in class mobile services that add value to the lives of people of Rwanda and contribute towards bridging the digital divide in the country," Bharti Airtel chairman and managing director Sunil Mittal said.
Rwanda is amongst the fastest growing telecom markets in Africa. The mobile penetration in the country was 38.4 per cent as of July 2011, the statement said, quoting National Statistics Institute of Rwanda.
"Rwanda is a key telecom market with immense growth potential and will strengthen Bharti Airtel's footprint in East Africa," Mittal added.
In June last year, the New Delhi-based firm had announced the acquisition of the African assets of Kuwait's biggest phone company, Mobile Telecommunications Company, also known as Zain, at an enterprise value of $10.7 billion (See: Bharti acquires Zain, becomes world's fifth largest mobile operator)
With this, Bharti enters 17 countries in Africa – to add to its existing operations in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Seychelles – and becomes the world's fifth largest mobile phone company by subscribers.
At present, Airtel already has presence across 16 countries of Africa which include Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
In July this year, Bharti Airtel said it planned to restructure Indian and South Asian operations, expecting the reorganisation to improve efficiency and help it transform into a customer-facing firm from its present technology-centric approach.
The telecommunications major is reorganising its corporate structure, effective effective 1 August 2011, with creation of business-to-customer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) verticals.
The transformed organisation structure will have two distinct Customer Business Units (CBU) with clear focus on B2C and B2B segments.
The B2C unit will service retail consumers, homes and small offices, by combining mobile, telemedia, digital TV and emerging businesses like m-commerce, m-health and m-advertising among others. It will consist of consumer business and market operations.
Rwanda, officially the Republic of Rwanda, is an African country a population of about 11.4 million (2011) and borders Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Congo.