New Delhi: India’s top cellular carrier, Bharti Airtel , which last year bought mobile phone operations in 15 African countries, is on target to generate $5 billion in revenue from the continent and reach 100 million subscribers there by the end of March 2013, a top executive said.
Bharti paid $9 billion for most of Kuwait-based Zain’s African cellular operations, which generated about $2.9 billion in revenues in the year that ended 31 March and had 44.2 million subscribers. The loss-making operations have been a drag on Bharti’s consolidated earnings.
“Let me assure you the objective I have stated...100 million subscribers, $5 billion in revenue, $2 billion in Ebitda, we are definitely moving towards that steadily,” Manoj Kohli, Bharti Airtel’s chief executive for international operations, told Reuters in an interview.
“We are confident we’ll achieve it,” he said, as Bharti completed one year of the African acquisition that made it the world’s fifth-biggest mobile carrier by subscribers.
Bharti, which sees Africa as the biggest future continent for telecoms growth, has implemented its low-cost, high-volume Indian model in Africa and has outsourced network, information technology and back office operations to reduce costs.
Bharti had operating margins of 24% in its African operations for the year ended March, compared with 36.8% from its India and other south Asian operations.
Kohli expects Africa margins to improve in coming quarters.
“One thing I can say confidently that our business model has now been implanted in Africa ... you’ll see quarter after quarter a positive impact of the business model,” he said.