Airtel Africa

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Bharti Airtel (International) Netherlands B.V.
Airtel Africa
PredecessorZain Africa B.V.
Founded8 June 2010; 8 years ago (2010-06-08) (7 years)
HeadquartersKeizersgracht 62-64,
1015 CS Amsterdam
Area served
ParentBharti Airtel Limited
  • Airtel Chad
  • Airtel DRC
  • Airtel Gabon
  • Airtel Kenya
  • Airtel Madagascar
  • Airtel Malawi
  • Airtel Niger
  • Airtel Nigeria
  • Airtel Congo
  • Airtel Rwanda
  • Airtel Seychelles
  • Airtel Tanzania
  • Airtel Uganda
  • Airtel Zambia

Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) B.V., doing business as Airtel Africa, is a holding company and a subsidiary of Indian telecommunications company Bharti Airtel. Through its subsidiaries, Airtel Africa provides telecommunication services in 15 African countries.[2]

Nigeria is Airtel's most profitable market, due to its cheap data plans in the country, followed by Ghana. As of March 2017, Airtel has 78 million subscribers in the continent.[3]


MTN Group merger negotiations[edit]

In May 2008, it emerged that Airtel was exploring the possibility of buying the MTN Group, a South Africa-based telecommunications company with operations in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East. The Financial Times reported that Bharti was considering offering US$45 billion for a 100% stake in MTN, which would be the largest overseas acquisition ever by an Indian firm. However, both sides emphasised the tentative nature of the talks. The Economist magazine noted, "If anything, Bharti would be marrying up", as MTN had more subscribers, higher revenues and broader geographic coverage.[4] However, the talks fell apart as MTN Group tried to reverse the negotiations by making Bharti almost a subsidiary of the new company.[5]

In May 2009, Airtel confirmed that it was again in talks with MTN and both companies agreed to discuss the potential transaction exclusively by 31 July 2009.[6] Airtel said "Bharti Airtel Ltd is pleased to announce that it has renewed its effort for a significant partnership with MTN Group".[7] The exclusivity period was extended twice up to 30 September 2009. Talks eventually ended without agreement.[8]

A solution was proposed where the new company would be listed on 2 stock exchanges, one in South Africa and one in India. However, dual-listing of companies is not permitted by Indian law.[9]

Zain Africa acquisition[edit]

In Jun 2010, Bharti struck a deal to buy Zain's mobile operations in 15 African countries for $8.97 billion, in India's second biggest overseas acquisition after Tata Steel's US$13 billion buy of Corus in 2007. Bharti Airtel completed the acquisition of on 8 June 2010, making Airtel the world's fifth largest wireless carrier by subscriber base. Airtel reported that its revenues for the fourth quarter of 2010 grew by 53% to $3.2 billion compared to the previous year. The newly acquired Africa division contributed $911 million to the total. However, net profits dropped by 41% from $470 million in 2009 to $291 million 2010 due to a $188 million increase in radio spectrum charges in India and an increase of $106 million in debt interest.[10]


Airtel Tanzania HQ

On 18 November 2010, Airtel rebranded itself in India in the first phase of a global rebranding strategy. The company unveiled a new logo with 'airtel' written in lower case. Designed by London-based brand agency, The Brand Union, the new logo is the letter 'a' in lowercase, with 'airtel' written in lowercase under the logo.[11] On 23 November 2010, Airtel's Africa operations were rebranded to 'airtel'.

Warid Uganda acquisition[edit]

Airtel acquired the Uganda business of Warid in 2013.[12]

Telecom Seychelles acquisition[edit]

On 11 August 2010, Bharti Airtel announced that it would acquire 100% stake in Telecom Seychelles for US$62 million taking its global presence to 19 countries. Telecom Seychelles began operations in 1998 and operates 3G, Fixed Line, ship to shore services satellite telephony, among value added services like VSAT and Gateways for International Traffic across the Seychelles under the Airtel brand. The company has over 57% share of the mobile market of Seychelles.[13] Airtel announced plans to invest US$10 million in its fixed and mobile telecoms network in the Seychelles over three years, whilst also participating in the Seychelles East Africa submarine cable (SEAS) project. The US$34 million SEAS project is aimed at improving the Seychelles' global connectivity by building a 2,000 km undersea high-speed link to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.[14][13]

Sale to Orange[edit]

Airtel and French telecom company Orange S.A. signed an agreement in July 2015 for the sale of the former's operations in Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Chad and Congo-Brazzaville to the latter. In January 2016, Airtel announced that it had entered an agreement to sell its operations in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone to Orange. The value of the deal was not disclosed, but analysts estimated it to be US$800–900 million. The agreement on the sale of operation in Chad and Congo-Brazzaville lapsed.[15][16] Orange assumed control of operations in Burkina Faso in June 2016 and Sierra Leone in July 2016.[17][18][19][20]

Tigo Ghana merger[edit]

On 4 March 2017, Airtel and Millicom International Cellular agreed to merge their operations in Ghana (Airtel Ghana Ltd and Tigo Ghana Ltd) to create the country's second largest mobile operator. Both companies will hold an equal stake in the merged entity.[3][21]

Countries of operations[edit]

Airtel operates in the following countries in Africa:

Country Subsidiary Remarks
 Chad Airtel Chad Airtel Chad is the #1 operator with 69% market share.[22]
 Democratic Republic of the Congo Airtel DRC Airtel is the market leader with almost 7 million customers at the end of June 2012.
 Gabon Airtel Gabon Airtel Gabon has 829,000 customers and its market share stood at 61%.[23]
 Ghana Airtel Ghana The Mobile Voice subscriber base in Ghana grew from 29,815,213 in September 2014 to 29,990,581 at the end of October 2014. The subscriber base of Airtel decreased from the September figure of 3,790,636 September 2014 to end October 2014 at 3,742,970[24]
 Kenya Airtel Kenya Airtel Kenya is the second largest operator and has about 9 million customers.[25]
 Madagascar Airtel Madagascar Airtel holds second place in the mobile telecom market in Madagascar, has a 39% market share and over 1.4 million customers.[22]
 Malawi Airtel Malawi Airtel Malawi is the market leader with a market share of 72%.[22]
 Niger Airtel Niger Airtel Niger is the market leader with a 68% market share.[22]
 Nigeria Airtel Nigeria Airtel is the 3rd largest operator with 33,376,556 subscribers, behind Globacom (37,268,483) and MTN Nigeria (61,280,293) as of Nov 2016.[26]
 Republic of the Congo Airtel Congo B Airtel Congo is the market leader with a 55% market share.[22]
 Rwanda Airtel Rwanda Airtel launched services in Rwanda on 30 March 2012.[27]
 Seychelles Airtel Seychelles Airtel is the leading comprehensive telecommunications services providers with over 55% market share of mobile market in Seychelles.[28]
 Tanzania Airtel Tanzania Airtel Tanzania is the market leader with a 30% market share.[29]
 Uganda Airtel Uganda Airtel Uganda stands as the #2 operator with a market share of 38%.[22]
 Zambia Airtel Zambia

One Network[edit]

Map showing airtel coverage globally

One Network is a mobile phone network that allows Airtel customers to use the service in a number of countries at the same price as their home network. Customers can place outgoing calls at the same rate as their local network, and incoming calls are free.[30] As of 2014, the service is available in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Ghana, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "terms and conditions". airtel Africa. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  2. ^ "Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) B.V.: Private Company Information - Bloomberg". Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Airtel, Millicom ink pact to merge in Ghana - The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Emerging-market telecoms: Eyes on Africa", The Economist, 6 May 2008
  5. ^ "$50 Billion Telecom Deal Falls Apart", The New York Times, 25 May 2008
  6. ^ Archived from the original on 24 October 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "". Archived from the original on 24 October 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  8. ^ "Bharti, MTN call off merger talks". 1 October 2009. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  9. ^ "Bharti Airtel and MTN talks collapse again due to dual-listing disagreement | City A.M". City A.M. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  10. ^ Tripathy, Devidutta; Goma, Eman (8 June 2010). "Bharti closes $9 billion Zain Africa deal". Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  11. ^ "Airtel dons a new look, plans to be closer to consumers across the globe > afaqs! news & features". 2010-11-19. Retrieved 2012-06-28.
  12. ^ "Uganda regulator clears Airtel's Warid Telecom acquisition". Mint. 2013-05-13. Retrieved 2014-04-19.
  13. ^ a b "Bharti Airtel to buy Telecom Seychelles for Rs 288 crore". Economic Times. 11 August 2010. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  14. ^ "USD10m plan for Airtel Seychelles; Bharti announces commitment to SEAS cable". 18 August 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  15. ^ Reporter, B. S. (14 January 2016). "Airtel to sell 2 African operations to Orange". Business Standard India. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  16. ^ "Airtel signs deal to sell two African operations to France's Orange". Firstpost. 13 January 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Airtel closes sale of its unit in Sierra Leone to France's Orange". The Economic Times. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  18. ^ Lead, Telecom (19 July 2016). "Orange completes Airtel deal in Sierra Leone | TelecomLead". TelecomLead. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  19. ^ "Orange announces 100% takeover of Airtel in Burkina Faso". Africanews. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  20. ^ "Orange announces 100% takeover of Airtel in Sierra Leone". Africanews. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  21. ^ "Airtel, Millicom sign pact to combine Ghana operations". Mint. 3 March 2017.
  22. ^ a b c d e f "". 2008-07-14. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  23. ^ "African operators".[dead link]
  24. ^ "Airtel Ghana". 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  25. ^ "Airtel Kenya grows subscriber base to four million; 3G network to launch in March". 2011-01-14. Retrieved 2012-06-28.
  26. ^ Bello, Muhammed. "Industry Statistics". Retrieved 2017-09-10.
  27. ^ "Airtel launches mobile services in Rwanda". The Times Of India. 30 March 2012.
  28. ^ "About us | Airtel (Seychelles) – Mobile Phones, Mobile Internet, Broadband, Email, Blackberry & Roaming". 1997-10-24. Archived from the original on 28 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  29. ^ "Tanzania is betting big on 4G by taking back a Bharti-Airtel stake in the state telco". Quartz. Retrieved 2016-01-08.
  30. ^ Bafna, Sanjay (15 November 2012). "AIRTEL Customers in AFRICA to Get FREE Incoming Calls While International Roaming in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh". Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  31. ^ "One Network Services". Airtel. 2014. Archived from the original on 21 July 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2014.