Bharti Airtel has announced that it will expand its African operations into Rwanda, bringing to 17 the total number of African countries where it is present. The operator has previously pledged to invest over US$100 million in its operations over the next three years and generate direct and indirect employment opportunities.
Commenting on the launch, Mr. Manoj Kohli, CEO (International) & Joint MD, Bharti Airtel said, “We believe that Rwanda is an extremely promising market. It will be our endeavour to bring world-class and affordable services to our customers in Rwanda and add value to the economy. We would like to thank the Rwandan government for giving us this opportunity, and we are committed to contributing to their aim of bridging the digital divide in the country.”
“We are looking to partner with the private sector to provide good quality, accessible and affordable telecommunications services,” says Right Hon. Dr. Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, Prime Minister, Rwanda. He added: “We are especially excited about the prospect of connecting Rwanda with the rest of the East African region and, indeed, with the rest of Africa. As Rwandans begin engaging in business ventures and looking for regional partners, telecommunications companies that are able to provide access to a pan-African wireless network, become a crucial part of expansion.”
Airtel has also partnered with IBM in a move that will enable the teleco to offer superior customer experience in Rwanda. The partnership will see IBM deploy and manage the information technology (IT) infrastructure and applications to further support Airtel’s goal of providing innovative mobile services.
The end-to-end network management will be overseen by Ericsson. Lars Lindén, head of Region Sub-Saharan Africa for Ericsson, says: “This solution... will be the first Airtel network designed as an all-IP solution. That means Airtel will be able to provide advanced services to its subscribers, expand quickly to accommodate quick growth, and keep operating expenses down.”
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. The rapidly growing private sector – which includes telecommunications infrastructure and ICT – presents many opportunities for the development of the industry and the country’s economy. In fact, according to the World Bank, each 10 per cent of broadband penetration results in a 1.3 per cent increase in per capita GDP growth in developing countries.