Airtel launches operations in Rwanda
Airtel Rwanda, an investment arm of Bharti Airtel, will today open shop in the country becoming the country’s third telecom operator.
The launch is scheduled to take place at the company’s headquarters in Remera near the Amahoro National Stadium.
Bharti Airtel was given the operating licence in September last year and the Indian-based firm is set to invest US$100 million (Rwf59.5 billion) in three years.
The multi-million investment package included $30 million (Rwf17.8 bn) to purchase the operating licence.
The official launching is expected to be attended by high-ranking government officials and Airtel Group’s Chief Executive Officer Manoj Kohli, and Joint Managing Director, Bharti Airtel.
Bharti Airtel is among the top five global mobile telecommunications operators in the world, with operations in 19 countries across Asia and Africa. Rwanda becomes the telecom’s 17th operation across Africa.
Telecom industry observers believe that the entry of Airtel’s pricing and innovation will drastically stir up the telecoms sector and increase competition thus giving consumers a choice.
Currently, Rwanda’s mobile penetration rate stands at 46 per cent as of December 2011.
Telecoms regulator, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), targets 60 per cent mobile penetration by the end of this year, as the Airtel starts operations.
Bharti Airtel becomes the third operator after MTN Rwanda, which has 2,892,827 subscribers and TIGO Rwanda with 1,553,367.
MTN Rwanda began operations in 1998, while Tigo, which is owned by Luxembourg-based Millicom International Cellular SA (MICC), started operations in 2009.
The operator comes into the market after the sector regulator revoked Rwandatel’s (once a third operator) GSM operating licence, after failing to fulfil its licence obligations, according to RURA.
The telecom giant has operations across Asia and Africa with over 230 million subscribers across. It has operations in three other East African member states; Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
After signing the operating licence last year, the Chairman and Managing Director of Bharti Airtel, Sunil Bharti Mittal said on top of the routine voice, SMS and value added services, his company would ensure better broadband availability to the market.
Bharti Airtel offers mobile voice, data services, fixed line and high speed broadband.
Contact email: saul.butera[at]newtimes.co.rw