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Bharti Airtel: ‘We are here to Stay and not about to exit Africa’. Launching 4G in Kenya

by Milicent Atieno
Bharti Airtel: ‘We are here to stay and not about to exit Africa.' The telecom launching 4G in Kenya

As a Kenyan, I thought Bharti Airtel woes were only in our country, where Safaricom has an iron-fist grip on the market. My opinion is shaped by the news I get from the media, who have been widely speculating an exit of Bharti Airtel from the Kenya market. It turns out; they were also expecting the telecom to exit from the entire African market.

The telecom has, however, come out to deny those speculations, and said it is here and here to stay; both in Kenya and Africa at large. Airtel also says it is planning on further investing in its installations across the continent. Take, for instance in Kenya, Bharti Airtel wants to roll out 4G LTE network. The planned 4G rollout is largely encouraged by the 2.5% bump in its mobile data subscribers from 18.7% to 21.2%.

Airtel Africa says its Q3 results were impressive, with revenues increasing by 6% year-over-year (Y-o-Y) its highest in the last nine quarters. Over that time it has had a reduction in customer churn from 6% to 4.9%.

Its data consumption grew by 91% and revenues by 24% on Y-o-Y, supported by a stronger data networks. The telecom has also been on a sharp cost management focus that led to improved EBITDA margin from 4.5% to 24.5%. It would appear Africa is now generating positive cash flow for Bharti Airtel.

All the steps taken recently with regard to human resources and infrastructure have been geared towards readying the organization to grow efficiently and sustainably in the medium to long term,” said Raghunath Mandava, the MD, and CEO of Airtel Africa.

“The company remains committed to competing in various markets and providing more choice to customers through further investments to ensure consistent delivery of quality and value for money services to our customers. We are also accelerating our investments in new data networks and to modernize our existing networks. We are committed to launch 4 G in multiple countries.

Mergers and acquisitions continue to be the norm for any multinational organization and they affect all global organizations in equal measures as and when they happen. As a strategy, we look for opportunities to acquire or merge in opcos that are operating in a fragmented market structure with too many players in a small market. Last year, Airtel and Orange reached a mutually beneficial agreement on the assets in Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso. Similarly, Airtel also acquired assets in Uganda, CongoB and Kenya in recent times. The agreements brought together the strengths of Airtel, Warid and Essar. This has offered benefits to customers in the form of a superior and wider network, affordable voice / data services and better customer care. Away from Africa, recently, we merged with Robi in Bangladesh to create a solid and profitable No.2 player in the market.”

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