Bharti to invest $1 billion in Africa this year: Mittal

Bharti to invest $1 billion in Africa this year: Mittal

Addis Ababa: Consolidating its operations in Africa, Bharti airtel will invest $1 billion (about 4,500 crore) in the continent to expand its network throughout 16 countries.

“We have already invested $11 billion here and have committed nearly $1 billion investment for this year for expansion of our network," Bharti group chief Sunil Mittal told PTI.

Asked whether the company was looking at more acquisitions in the region, he said, “At the moment we are focussing on our 16 countries and for any future expansion in Africa, we will see as the opportunities come, as there is nothing on the table at the moment."

He, however, said that there were great opportunities in the region and recommended his fellow businessmen from India to explore investment options here.

“In my view, Africa offers a long-term opportunity for Indian businesses in manufacturing, agriculture, services and it is my desire and recommendation that more and more Indian businesses should participate in Africa," Mittal said.

Last year, in the largest ever telecom takeover by an Indian firm, Bharti had acquired Kuwait-based Zain Telecom’s African business for $10.7 billion (about 48,000 crore).

The closure of the deal had implied that Bharti has received all the approvals from the governments and regulators of each of these 16 nations.

During 2010-11, airtel’s Africa operations reported a net loss of 480 crore, while revenues stood at 13,083.4 crore.

“Out of 16 countries many are very profitable, most of them are profitable. As far as Africa is concerned, we have to grow in Nigeria, we have to grow in Ghana, Uganda, Kenya — these are few countries where we have to step up," he said.

At the end of the fourth quarter, the company had 44.2 million GSM mobile customers on its network. During the quarter, the company added 2.1 million customers. The ARPU for the quarter was $7.2 per month. The blended monthly usage per customer, during the quarter was at 115 minutes.

With the help of Africa operations, Bharti has become world’s fifth largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers. Total user base of Bharti in 19 nations stands at over 185 million.

The company has also launched its brand airtel in all 16 African countries.