Bharti outsources African operations to Indian allies

The same three vendors that are deploying Bharti Airtel’s 3G infrastructure in India have been awarded contracts to expand the operator’s African networks following its acquisition of Zain Africa.

Nokia Siemens Networks, Huawei and Ericsson have reportedly secured five-year contracts worth over US$3 billion. Bharti is now operating in 16 countries across Africa, serving around 40 million customers, but is aiming to reach 100 million customers by 2012.

A significant amount of Bharti’s African workforce will now be under the employment of one of the three vendors, making this the third outsourcing contract issued by the operator since it acquired the African operations. The first of these was a US$1.5 billion deal with IBM, which manages the operator’s IT requirements. The operator then issued its call centre contracts to Tech Mahindra, Spanco and IBM.

The operator has seen significant success with outsourcing in its home market, India – in the face of strong competition, outsourcing has allowed Bharti to provide a high volume of customers with low-cost services.

Bharti’s African operations made up over a quarter of its total revenue and over 20% of mobile subscribers in Q3 2010.

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