Indian telecoms giant Bharti Airtel which is currently operating in 15 African countries including Ghana has dismissed media reports that the company planned exiting the continent by the end of the year.
According to the Bharti Airtel in a statement they “remain committed to Africa and will continue to invest in its operations to grow sustainably in Africa.”
The chairman of the Bharti Airtel Sunil Bharti Mittal in an earlier interview published on qz.com blamed the plans of the telecom operator to rationalize subsidiary Airtel’s African operations, combined with already circulating rumors sparked headlines suggesting Airtel is quitting the continent altogether.
“Mittal agreed with the interviewer that company’s run in 15 African countries had not been as successful as they had hoped,” the story on qz.com stated.
In Ghana, it has been widely speculated that, French telecom operator had begun moves to acquire Airtel Ghana and also Tigo Ghana after an alleged ongoing merger process.
Airtel provides phone, data and mobile money services in Chad, Congo Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Bharti Airtel, therefore rejected reports that, the company’s Africa 15 operations including Ghana showed poor performance, but the company can report that, Airtel’s third quarter 2016 operations reports shows a strong performance year on year, the highest over the last 9 quarters.
Below is the full statement
Airtel Africa, a leading telecommunications company with operations in 15 countries across Africa, has refuted speculative media reports erroneously stating its possible exit from Africa. The organization has reaffirmed that it remains committed to Africa and will continue to invest in its operations to grow sustainably in Africa.
Airtel Africa’s recent 3rd quarter results were strong. The underlying Africa revenues for the quarter accelerated by 6.0 per cent year on year, the highest over the last 9 quarters.
The organizations efforts to improve the quality of customer acquisitions have resulted in a reduction in customer churn to 4.9 per cent from 6.0 per cent. Data consumption and revenues have grown by 91.0 per cent & 24.0 per cent year on year respectively, led by stronger data networks.
The strong focus on cost management has led to a significant underlying EBITDA margin expansion of 4.5 per cent year on year, which now stands at 24.5 per cent. Africa is now generating positive free cash and is PBT positive in constant currency.
Raghunath Mandava, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Africa, said’ “All the steps taken recently with regard to human resources and infrastructure have been geared towards readying the organization to grow efficiently and sustainably in the medium to long term. The company remains committed to competing in various markets and providing more choice to customers through further investments to ensure consistent delivery of quality and value for money services to our customers. We are also accelerating our investments in new data networks and to modernize our existing networks. We are committed to launch 4G in multiple countries.”
He added “Mergers and acquisitions continue to be the norm for any multinational organization and they affect all global organizations in equal measures as and when they happen. As a strategy, we look for opportunities to acquire or merge in opcos that are operating in a fragmented market structure with too many players in a small market. Last year, Airtel and Orange reached a mutually beneficial agreement on the assets in Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso. Similarly, Airtel also acquired assets in Uganda, CongoB and Kenya in recent times. The agreements brought together the strengths of Airtel, Warid and Essar. This has offered benefits to customers in the form of a superior and wider network, affordable voice / data services and better customer care. Away from Africa, recently, we merged with Robi in Bangladesh to create a solid and profitable No.2 player in the market.”
The recent results demonstrate the effectiveness of Airtel’s business strategy in Africa. The organization sees an opportunity ahead to emerge with a broader reach and sharper execution.