Two months after launching operations in Rwanda, Bharti Airtel has declared its intention of investing US$100 million in the country. The pledge was made during a meeting between the operator’s International CEO & Joint MD Manoj Kohli and the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame.
The investment is planned over the next three years, and is aiming at generating both direct and indirect employment opportunities within its ecosystem. The company will also be bringing in partners like IBM and Ericsson to set up and manage world class facilities in the country.
Mr. Kohli said: “Rwanda is a promising telecommunications market and we are grateful to the Government and people of Rwanda for the support extended to us since our entry into the country.”
“Our strategy for Rwanda is in harmony with the government’s vision to make telecommunications a priority,” he continued. “We plan to work closely with the government to provide access to affordable telecoms products and services across the country.”
Rwanda is among the fastest growing telecom markets in Africa and, according to the National Statistics Institute of Rwanda, mobile penetration in the country was at 38.4 per cent as of July 2011. Airtel was awarded a licence by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) late last year to operate 2G and 3G GSM mobile services. Mr. Kohli said Airtel’s overall strategy remains in line with that of the government; the firm aims to provide convenient access to telecommunication services by extending its network to rural communities.
Kigali is currently operating on a 2G network, but Airtel is aiming to launch 3G services in the market within the upcoming quarter. Rwanda will also benefit from Airtel’s mobile commerce platform, Airtel Money. The service will allow consumers and communities to conduct a range of financial transactions quickly and easily. Targeted at both banked and unbanked customers, the service will enable customers to make affordable, fast and secure financial transactions including direct fund transfers from one user to another, bill payments, top ups and mobile banking.
The company’s vision for Rwanda stretches far beyond business priorities, added Kohli. Since launching in March this year, the company has strengthened its commitment to the community by adopting a primary school in Kicukiro. Airtel will be refurbishing the school to ensure that its students are educated in an environment most suitable for learning.