Airtel Africa

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Airtel Africa plc, trading as Airtel, is an Indian multinational company that provides telecommunications and mobile money services in 14 countries in Africa, primarily in East, Central and West Africa. Airtel Africa is majority owned by the Indian telecommunications company Bharti Airtel. Airtel Africa offers mobile voice and data services as well as mobile money services both nationally and internationally. Airtel Nigeria is the most profitable unit of Airtel Africa, due to its cheap data plans in Nigeria. As of March 2019, Airtel had over 99 million subscribers in the continent.[4] It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.[5]

Airtel Africa plc
FormerlyAirtel Africa Limited (2018–2019)[1]
Company typePLC
PredecessorZain Africa B.V.
Founded8 June 2010; 14 years ago (2010-06-08)
HeadquartersLondon, England, UK[2]
Area served
ServicesAfrica's leading provider of prepaid, postpaid mobile, & 4G services.
RevenueIncrease $5.268 billion (2023)[3]
Increase $1.757 billion (2023)[3]
Increase $0.750 billion (2023)[3]
Total assetsIncrease $11.166 billion (2023)[3]
Total equityIncrease $3.808 billion (2023)[3]
OwnerBharti Airtel (67.2%)



MTN Group merger negotiations


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.[6] However, the talks fell apart as MTN Group tried to reverse the negotiations by making Bharti almost a subsidiary of the new company.[7]

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.[8] Airtel said "Bharti Airtel Ltd is pleased to announce that it has renewed its effort for a significant partnership with MTN Group".[9] The exclusivity period was extended twice up to 30 September 2009. Talks eventually ended without agreement.[10]

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.[11]

Zain Africa acquisition


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.[12]


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.[13]

Warid Uganda acquisition


Airtel acquired the Uganda business of Warid in 2013.[14]

Telecom Seychelles acquisition


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.[15] 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.[16][15]

Tigo Rwanda acquisition


Bharti Airtel was awarded a licence to operate mobile services by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency in September 2011.[17] Airtel Rwanda Limited launched services on 30 March 2012.[18] Airtel announced that it had reached an agreement with competitor Millicom to acquire complete control of Tigo Rwanda at a reported cost of $60–70 million in December 2017.[19][20] The acquisition made Airtel the second largest mobile operator in Rwanda with a 40% market share.[21] The company operated as Airtel-Tigo following the merger, until it was rebranded as Airtel Rwanda in January 2020.[22][23]

Bharti Airtel announced on 4 June 2019 that it would seek to raise $750 million through an initial public offering for Airtel Africa under which the company would be listed on the London Stock Exchange.[24][25]

Countries of operations


Airtel Africa operates in the following countries:

Country Subsidiary Remarks
  Chad Airtel Chad Airtel Chad is the #1 operator with 43% market share.[26]
  Democratic Republic of the Congo Airtel DRC Airtel had 1 million customers in 2014.[27]
  Gabon Airtel Gabon Airtel Gabon has 829,000 customers and its market share stood at 61%.[28]
  Kenya Airtel Kenya Airtel Kenya is the second largest operator and has about 9 million customers.[29]
  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.[26]
  Malawi Airtel Malawi Airtel Malawi is the market leader with a market share of 72%.[26]
  Niger Airtel Niger Airtel Niger is the market leader with a 68% market share.[26]
  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.[30]
  Republic of the Congo Airtel Congo B Airtel Congo is the market leader with a 55% market share.[26]
  Rwanda Airtel Rwanda Airtel launched services in Rwanda on 30 March 2012.[31]
  Seychelles Airtel Seychelles Airtel has over 55% market share of mobile market in Seychelles.[32]
  Tanzania Airtel Tanzania Airtel Tanzania is the market leader with a 30% market share.[33]
  Uganda Airtel Uganda Airtel Uganda stands as the #2 operator with a market share of 38%.[26]
  Zambia Airtel Zambia Airtel Zambia has a 40.5% market share.[34]

Former operations


Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone


Airtel began operating in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone after acquiring Zain's Africa operations in June 2010.[35] 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.[36][37] Orange assumed control of operations in Burkina Faso in June 2016 and Sierra Leone in July 2016.[38][39][40][41]



Airtel began operating in Ghana after acquiring Zain's Africa operations in June 2010.[35] 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, with the two companies holding an equal stake in the merged entity.[4][42] On 27 October 2020, Airtel announced that it planned to exit its business in Ghana, and that it had entered into "advanced stages of discussions" for sale of shares in AirtelTigo to the Government of Ghana.[43] AirtelTigo Ghana was sold in October 2020 to the Ghanaian government for $25 million.[44]

One Network

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.[45] As of 2021, the service is available in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.[46][44]

Partial sale of Airtel Money


In March 2021, Airtel Africa sold an undisclosed minority fraction of its Airtel Money business, to San Francisco-based private equity firm TPG Capital, at a contract price of US$200 million. TPG is investing in the Airtel Money business of Airtel Africa, through its subsidiary, The Arise Fund.[47] Shortly after, in early April 2021, Airtel Africa sold an additional undisclosed minority stake of Airtel Money to Mastercard for US$100 million.[48]

See also



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  2. ^ "Airtel Africa PLC AAF Our story - Stock | London Stock Exchange". Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Annual Results 2023" (PDF). Airtel Africa. Retrieved 11 February 2024.
  4. ^ a b "Airtel, Millicom ink pact to merge in Ghana - The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  5. ^ "BHP Group Plc (UK) & BHP Group Ltd (Australia): Unification of Share Structure - Update: Changes in FTSE UK Index Series". 26 January 2022. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  6. ^ "Emerging-market telecoms: Eyes on Africa", The Economist, 6 May 2008
  7. ^ "$50 Billion Telecom Deal Falls Apart", The New York Times, 25 May 2008
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  9. ^ "". Archived from the original on 24 October 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
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  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ Tripathy, Devidutta; Goma, Eman (8 June 2010). "Bharti closes $9 billion Zain Africa deal". Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
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  15. ^ a b "Bharti Airtel to buy Telecom Seychelles for Rs 288 crore". Economic Times. 11 August 2010. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  16. ^ "USD10m plan for Airtel Seychelles; Bharti announces commitment to SEAS cable". 18 August 2010. Archived from the original on 26 July 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  17. ^ "Bharti Airtel Rwanda entry seen spurring price war". Reuters. 14 September 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
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  19. ^ Aulakh, Gulveen. "Bharti Airtel signs agreement to buy Millicom's operations in Rwanda". The Economic Times. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
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  21. ^ Kurup, Rajesh. "Bharti Airtel to acquire Millicom's operations in Rwanda". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  22. ^ "Airtel-Tigo rebrands, launches new campaign". The New Times. 16 January 2020. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
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  30. ^ Bello, Muhammed. "Industry Statistics". Archived from the original on 25 December 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
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  32. ^ "About us | Airtel (Seychelles) – Mobile Phones, Mobile Internet, Broadband, Email, Blackberry & Roaming". 24 October 1997. Archived from the original on 28 August 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  33. ^ "Tanzania is betting big on 4G by taking back a Bharti-Airtel stake in the state telco". Quartz. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  34. ^ "Investor Relations FAQs". Airtel Zambia. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  35. ^ a b "Bharti Airtel bidding US$10.7B for Zain's Africa mobile ops". Reuters. 15 February 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
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  39. ^ Lead, Telecom (19 July 2016). "Orange completes Airtel deal in Sierra Leone | TelecomLead". TelecomLead. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
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  41. ^ "Orange announces 100% takeover of Airtel in Sierra Leone". Africanews. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
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  47. ^ Victor Juma (19 March 2021). "Airtel sells mobile money service stake to PE firm for Sh21 billion". Business Daily Africa. Nairobi. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
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